March 17, 2008

Recognize Internet and Text messaging addiction as mental illnesses

books.jpeg Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness, reports The Ottawa Citizen.

"An editorial in this month's issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction -- including "excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging" -- is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders."

Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr. Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives," like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.

Dr. Block says about 86 per cent of Internet addicts have some other form of mental illness, but that unless a therapist is looking for it, Internet addiction is likely to be missed.

He argues that the phenomenon warrants being included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry's official dictionary of mental illnesses. The next edition is due out in 2012. A draft is expected to to be available for public comment next year.

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