Excessive Internet use linked to depression

New research conducted by psychologists at Leeds University suggests that heavy Internet usageis linked to depression and addiction.

Though the sample size was relatively small - 1,319 people with an average age of 21 responded to an online questionnaire - the authors classed 18 individuals (1.2 per cent of the total) as ‘Internet addicts’ who were rated with a depression score five times higher than the others.

Researchers have been suggesting that Internet usage causes depression as the Web first became a mainstream information source in the mid 1990s. A two-year study by Carnegie-Mellon University published as far back as 1998 suggested that spending too much time online can cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Writing in the journal 'Psychopathology', study leader at Leeds University’s Institute of Psychological Sciences Catriona Morrison conceded that it is not clear whether using the Internet causes adverse affects on mental health, or whether people already affected by problems are more likely to use the Internet, however.

A separate study conducted by Taiwanese researchers published in October last year indicated that teenagers with existing psychosocial disorders, such as depression, social phobia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are more like to be addicted to the Internet than others, for example.

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