If you are a gamer or tied to the video gaming industry, you won’t like this report given to the American Psychiatric Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting. It has to do with a review of 13 published articles that look at Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) especially those addicted to Internet gaming) and brain abnormalities.
Now, keep in mind that IAD is not a DSM V disorder, but one that is under study at present time. The interest in IAD is because we have a number of studies that show IAD associated with depression, suicide, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD and more.
American youth are more Internet addicted (26.3%) than drugs and alcohol. And teens who are addicted are more at risk for depression and suicide.
Here are four findings from the review:
1) Internet addiction is associated with changes in blood flow in the brain. Increased blood flow is seen around the reward and pleasure centers of the brain, with decreases in blood flow around areas associated with hearing and visual processing.
2) Internet addiction is associated with dopamine changes in the brain. Prolonged use can lead to a reduction in dopamine transporters, a state we see in other addictive disorders.
3) Prolonged use can also give a sense of out-of-body feeling and euphoria.
4) Prolonged use can lead to feeling indifferent to consequences of a person’s behavior such as decreased sensitivity to monetary loss.
So while there are no definite conclusions, we continue to look at the impact of the Internet on our connectedness and how it might be changing the brain in good and not so good ways. There is enough information to suggest that Internet addiction is real for some people, but more study is needed.
Source: American Psychiatric Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting. Abstract NR7-33. Presented May 4, 2014.