The Internet -- millions of people rely on it for everyday tasks. But when is the line crossed between average use and addiction? An article published in Perspectives in Psychiatric Care states, "The Internet has properties that for some individuals promote addictive behaviors and pseudo-intimate interpersonal relationships." Nurse practitioners will soon find themselves faced with the issues of "internet addicts" and their inability to get offline.
While not yet defined as a true addiction, many are suffering the consequences of obsession with the online world, unable to control their use. From gaming to sexual and emotional relationships, the internet is taking over lives. More and more people will be confronted with consequences such as divorce and physical symptoms which will force them to seek both medical and psychological treatment.
Online marital infidelity (cybersex) can lead to divorce and harm personal relationships. Individuals who seek out sexual partners online also appear to be at higher risk for sexually transmitted disease. Furthermore, such behaviors can lead to cybersexual addiction. Previous studies have reported that "Approximately 9 million people, or 15 percent of Internet users, accessed one of the top adult Web sites in a 1-month period."
Some physical symptoms include "cyber shakes," dry eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome and headaches. "A focus on the computer and lack of attention to daily reality is indicative of poor judgment and results on lowered grades in school, job loss, and indebtedness."
Recognizing this as an addiction will allow for appropriate treatment. Subsequently, therapists will be faced with how to treat such technological addictions and their associated issues.
This study is published in the Perspectives in Psychiatric Care.
Diane M. Wieland, PhD, RN, CS has been a psychiatric nurse for over twenty-five years. Dr. Wieland also has a private practice in which she has treated patients with computer addiction. She received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and is certified as a clinical specialist for adult psychiatric-mental health from the American Nurses' Association.
About Perspectives in Psychiatric Care
Perspectives in Psychiatric Care (PPC) is recognized and respected as the journal for advanced practice psychiatric nurses. The journal provides advanced practice nurses with current research, clinical application, and knowledge about psychiatric nursing, prescriptive treatment, and education. It publishes peer-reviewed papers that reflect clinical practice issues, psychobiological information, and integrative perspectives that are evidence-based.
About the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses
The mission of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN) is to unite and strengthen the presence and the voice of specialty psychiatric-mental health nursing while influencing health care policy to promote equitable, evidence-based and effective treatment and care for individuals, families and communities. For more information, visit: www.ispn-psych.org.
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