Counseling for Internet Addiction in Richmond, VA
Henry was annoyed. He was watching his daughter’s soccer game, and yes, he was also catching up on email. After the game, Henry overheard her say to a friend that he was always on his phone. Immediately, Henry thought, “no I am not!” He was explaining this to his therapist when the counselor asked him to take the next week and observe how much time he spends online—either on his phone or on his laptop. At his next appointment, Henry was feeling a little more subdued. His therapist asked him what he had observed. Henry had been on his phone a lot. He had always told himself that he was just trying to give himself an advantage at work, but even when his work was done for the day, Henry felt anxious when he did not have his phone or laptop nearby. He and his therapist talked about how using the Internet can become addictive just like gambling or shopping. In fact, his therapist explained that a lot of people are like Henry. More and more, people are using the Internet compulsively, and they are feeling negative consequences in their lives because of it. Henry’s therapist also explained that there are a number of effective treatments that may help him regain control.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”
Being online is an essential part of life for many people. The Internet is how they keep in touch with family and friends, and most jobs require people to go online at some point if not spend their entire work day there. For some people, unplugging is not a challenge at all. For many, they have difficulty unplugging. For many, they struggling to control what they do online and how long the spend there. Compulsive Internet use is a growing mental health challenge, but there are treatments available.
Thriveworks Richmond offers therapy for Internet addiction, and we have helped a number of clients regain control over dependent and compulsive Internet use.
Being Dependent upon Being Online
Today, there are unlimited data plans and high-speed Internet, but even during the days of dial-up, mental health professionals observed behavior that concerned them. In the mid-1990s, mental health professionals were connecting that behavior with dependency, compulsion, and addiction. By the late 1990s, they had developed criteria for Internet addiction. Dr. Kimberly Young outlined that criteria, and she suggested that an individual who displayed a minimum of five of the following symptoms may be addicted to the Internet:
- The inability to stop internet use or control when one goes online.
- Risking one’s professional or personal life because of Internet use.
- Increasingly spending longer time online in order to feel satisfied with one’s use.
- Going online for longer than one planned.
- When one cannot be online, feeling irritable, moody, or depressed.
- A preoccupation with being online or the Internet.
- Lying to loved ones about how much one uses the Internet, when one goes online, or what one does there.
- Regulating one’s emotions with the Internet.
There are a number of manifestations that Internet addiction can take. Dr. Young also outlined these subcategories for compulsive Internet use:
- Net compulsions: Going online to shop, day-trade, or gamble compulsively.
- Information addiction: Scrolling mindlessly and endlessly through websites, social media, and databases.
- Computer addiction: Playing video games online in a compulsive way.
- Cybersex addiction: Obsessively going to the Internet for porn and/or sex.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Online relationships that are compulsive.
Physical and Emotional Effects of Internet Addiction
What happens on the Internet can have difficult effects in real life. Just like other addictions, compulsive Internet use can cause challenges for an individual and for their loved ones. Physically, people who are dependent upon the Internet may experience…
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not changing clothes, bathing, et cetera)
- Weight gain or loss
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Neck pain
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Emotionally, people who are dependent upon the Internet may experience…
- Avoidance of work
- Feelings of guilt
- Losing a sense of time
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Mood swings
- Inability to keep to a schedule
Thriveworks Richmond: Appointments for Internet Addiction
As you read about compulsive Internet use, did you recognize anything in your own life? If you did, you are not alone. Many others are struggling, and there are many resources available for healing. At Thriveworks Richmond, we are committed to helping our clients find the personalized care they need. Some people with an Internet addiction would benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Others may need medication or a support group. Our therapists form an individualized treatment plan for our clients that accounts for their unique needs and circumstances. If you are ready to reach out for help, we are ready to meet with you. When you contact our office, your first appointment may be the following day. We accept many different insurance plans. Weekend and evening sessions are also offered. Let’s work together. Call today.