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Excessive internet use linked to depression

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Spending too much time browsing the internet may leave people feeling depressed, according to the first major study into the effects of web use on mental health.

The study, carried out by researchers at Leeds University, looked at the internet habits and mental health of 1,319 adults and young people.

The study showed a strong correlation between those who regard themselves as dependent on the internet and those who reported high levels of depressive symptoms.

Those identified as having “internet addiction” were more likely to engage with sexually gratifying websites, gaming websites and sites that serve as a replacement for real-life socialising, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Writing in the journal Psychopathology, the study’s lead author Catriona Morrison said “This study reinforces the public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal socialfunction might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.

“This type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health.”

“Excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don’t know is which comes first — are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This goes to show how cause and effect can get mixed up and support anecdotal assumption.

    As someone with severe clinical depression from 2003 to 2009, coming out of a marriage. lonely, isolated in personal life, found out my ex had been abusing our daughter (I am a practice nurse and work was a life saver), at home I was very vulnerable. I have to say that the Internet was a life saver and IS VERY SOCIAL.

    As a result of social interaction on messaging services I have developed some very close and supportive friends and I have had my recovery helped by supporting them.

    I now join there walking groups, have been camping, and have discovered the joys of youth hosteling all at the age of 55. This Sunday I am joining a male friend I have met on a friendship site on a walk, and being joined by a female and other male friend from Internet contacts.

    In my experience, people find the Internet a safe place to go (not looking at sex sites here) where at first, when feeling desperate, there can be anonomised contact. Then as we get to know people who chat about hobbis, families, friends, problems, gardening, holidays etc. we can glean out the genuineness of a person just as reliably as face to face.

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