Health & FitAddicted to the internet? Behavioral therapy could work, researchers find
Is Internet Addiction a Real Thing?
Short answer: Yes. Here's everything you should know about the symptoms, warning signs, and treatment of internet addiction disorder.
Many people spend hours on the internet every week -- but some people can't pull away.
For individuals with internet addiction, there's a type of short-term therapy that can be an effective treatment, according to a small study published Wednesday in medical journal.
Researchers found that 69.4% of men with internet addiction entered remission if they received short-term cognitive behavioral therapy, compared to 23.9% of men who entered remission while being on a waitlist to receive therapy.
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People in remission were 10 times more likely to be part of the short-term cognitive behavioral therapy group than the waitlist control group.
"This indicates a strong treatment effect for subjects suffering from internet addiction or gaming disorder," said Klaus Wölfling, lead author of the study, in a podcast for JAMA Psychiatry. Wölfling is a researcher in the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany.
Internet addiction, according to the researchers, is excessive use of the internet that negatively affects family, social, work and other aspects of life.
Last year, the World Health Organization recognizedas a mental health condition. The criteria for gaming disorder in WHO's includes at least 12 months of recurrent patterns of gaming, loss of control, and continued behavior even after causing negative consequences and distress in other aspects of life.
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For this study, researchers used a broader definition of internet addiction, to include patients who were addicted to gaming, social networks, pornography, online surfing or general internet use. The prevalence of internet addiction is estimated
15 weeks of therapy
The study looked at 143 men between the ages of 17 and 55 across four outpatient clinics in Germany and Austria, who met criteria for internet addiction based on scores from the Assessment of Internet and Computer Game Addiction, a standardized survey used in the field.
It is based on 14 criteria that include frequency of internet activity, withdrawal symptoms, preoccupation with the internet and a loss of interest in other life activities. Internet addiction was defined as a score greater than 13, while remission was defined as a score of less than 7.
The short-term cognitive behavioral therapy consisted of 15 weeks of group and individual sessions. The program was divided into three phases: education about the addiction, psychotherapeutic intervention -- such as showing healthy use of the internet -- and "focus on relapse prevention techniques and transition into everyday life," according to Wölfling.
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The people who were in the waitlist control group did ultimately receive the cognitive behavioral therapy, but after a 15 week delay to allow the study to be completed.
The study assessed only men because they are the predominant patients in internet addiction in the clinics, according to Wölfling. For behavioral addiction generally, men "represent 90% of patients treated or diagnosed in outpatient clinics," the researchers wrote.
Patients were assessed at the start of treatment, mid-treatment and post-treatment at four months.
Those in the short-term cognitive therapy group also had a follow-up assessment after six months. Researchers looked at self-reports of internet addiction behaviors and symptoms.
At the end of treatment, patients in the therapy group showed lower self-reported addiction symptoms such as withdrawal, preoccupation and time spent online, and better social, work and day-to-day functioning.
Patients showed lower rates of depression overall, without significant differences between the two groups. A small number of people became more depressed and had to be transferred to an inpatient facility, the researchers noted.
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This was the first randomized, clinical trial across multiple clinics that looked at the treatment for internet addiction, but the study had several limitations.
The small sample size could have "overestimated" the effect of short-term therapy, the researchers wrote.
Also, the study was limited to men and based on information patients reported on their own condition. Some patients dropped out, with 100 patients completing the study as scheduled.
Future randomized controlled trials should have better patient retention, include women and be longer in duration, according to Wölfling.
"Patients might profit even further if the treatment phase would be prolonged," he said in the JAMA Psychiatry podcast.
"Understanding of the person and history and the development of the pathologic behavior or disorder may be more important for the patient to learn about their own history and own life's development."
Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, psychologist ... What are the differences?
While the reimbursement of sessions at the psychologists is currently under study, some tips to find yourself between psychologists, psychiatrists and psychoanalyst and choose the right.
The difficult process of starting therapy is compounded by the difficult task of identifying the right professional. Because according to the consulted specialist, the mode of work or the result differs.
Psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a specialization in psychiatry. It treats serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, manic depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, food ... The psychiatrist is the only one to be authorized to prescribe drugs.
If the psychoanalyst does not have a state diploma, he must theoretically fulfill three conditions to exercise: having himself made an analysis, to have been formed through psychoanalytic associations and to be supervised by a " controller ", himself an analyst. This specialist can offer you a face to face therapy or lying on the couch. The work done is to explore the unconscious to know the root causes of neuroses and, gradually, change its behavior.
The psychologist is not a doctor but a professional psychology graduate. He proposes a therapy based on a method to which he has been trained (behavioral, family, systemic, humanistic ...). He is, most often, consulted in difficult times to cross as a mourning, a crisis in the relationship, get rid of an addiction ...How long does a therapy last?
This parameter must not make you give up consulting. Indeed, this is extremely variable, ranging from a few weeks to a few years depending on the work chosen. Count for example between six and ten years for a psychoanalysis. The other therapies, practiced at the psychologist, are more brief (hypnosis, behavioral and cognitive therapy ...) or medium-term (art therapy, psychogenealogy ...). Other elements also come into play, such as motivation, objectives or problem.
⋙Where to find your therapist?
Certainly not randomly on the Internet! It is best to talk to a friend who has been there before or seek advice from your doctor. For a psychiatrist, turn to the council of the order of doctors or consult the website of the Health Insurance (http://ameli-direct.ameli.fr). For a psychologist, contact the FFPP (French Federation of Psychologists and Psychology). Finally, for a psychoanalyst, medico-psychological centers will be good interlocutors. If your therapist does not suit you, dare to change it, no matter how advanced your work with him. However, it is good to talk to him about it, because this decision is also part of the therapy.
This article appeared in the n ° 1655 of Télé Loisirs
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