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Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression 360

Posted by timothy
from the uses-mental-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes "People who spend a lot of time surfing the internet are more likely to show signs of depression, British scientists said on Wednesday. These 'internet addicts' spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities, Morrison said. They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users."
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Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression

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  • by HikingStick (878216) <{z01riemer} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:51PM (#31011524)
    It will be interesting to see if the study examined sleep patterns of those who use the Internet to a far greater degree than others. Lack of sleep over an extended period of time has been linked to depression in many studies. Thus, the Internet surfing behaviors could be causing the subjects to get less sleep, thereby increasing the likelihood that they experience depression. The validity of the claim will come down to how well the study authors controlled for other variables, the overal validity of their methods, and whether or not other groups can replicate the results.
  • Cause or effect? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by at_slashdot (674436) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:56PM (#31011588)

    Didn't RTFA but this is the quick question that comes to mind when I read about all those studies... Also, what happens if you stop depressed people from using the Internet, do they feel better, worse, or the same?

  • work (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crsuperman34 (1599537) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:08PM (#31011772)
    I'm a graphic designer, it is REQUIRED that I sit on the internet 8+ hours a day gathering pdf's, emails, stock photography, free vector files, keeping up with social trends, web design, email design and taking short breaks browsing to 'switch' my mind to the next job. When I get home--by habit gained at the workplace--I check the news... cnn.com, salon.com, washington post and also prone to check facebook. So it is my job requiring me to be online which will eventually make me depressed. Seems that could be a legit argument against your workplace insurance in covering medical bills and could have even further repercussion?
  • by strstr (539330) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:27PM (#31012084)

    how about: excessive engagement in high stimulating activities such as the Internet, TV and online videogames, that ultimately depletes neurochemicals and at the same time causes a depression when experiencing less stimulating/normal activities? sometimes there really is too much of a good thing.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:36PM (#31012258) Homepage

    And what's cause and what's effect?

    What if heavy internet usage is caused by being depressed rather than causing it?

  • Re:I'll say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by derGoldstein (1494129) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:03PM (#31012624) Homepage
    What's more likely to get you depressed -- overexposure to porn, or overexposure to 4chan?
    Suppose you have a person who has very few social connections (just the ones they need to survive, like work relationships), and is also relatively isolated from their family (for whatever reason). Is it worse to saturate that person's mind with porn, or to dedicate a lot of time to, let's face it, some cruel, sadistic, and generally hateful communities that exist online?

    I'm definitely not trying to legitimize extreme porn consumption, but if we're talking about what leads people to depression, I think that there are more dangerous elements.
    (I actually just gave 4chan as an example to point out an overall direction -- there are far worse places, where hatred and malice are directed to whichever cause you can think up)
  • by Trahloc (842734) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:06PM (#31012656) Homepage
    My poor self image in no way has anything to do with the internet. Need proof? I was fat before I ever heard of the internet! HAH! ... now I did troll libraries and read entire sections of it before I got my computer... So I guess libraries cause depression too!

    FFS, some people are just depressed with life, they seek entertainment to help distract them from their own state. Whatever distraction that form takes has nothing to do with the depression. I can think of several reasons why I gained weight at a young age, none of them have to do with TV or my love of reading. Hell every person I know who goes out bar hoping to get laid would be classified as 'depressed' by these researchers most likely and their reasonably fit bastards. A general dissatisfaction with life seems to be one of the hallmarks of humanity and that is a good thing. We wouldn't be where we are if we were all content just living off the land like the other animals.
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by derGoldstein (1494129) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:25PM (#31012888) Homepage
    In a way it may be equated to substance abuse. Technically, one could drown their self in books as a distraction -- the main differences being the amount of moderation, and the lack of the interactive element (though from what I understand from TFA, it's mainly consumption of content they're referring to). People used to place themselves in front of the TV for 8 hours a day, and that was also linked to depression, or at least social dysfunction.

    I think that most people who read Slashdot, and especially anyone who posts, spends a lot of time online, but that's just pointing to "a media" (or is it a "medium" in this context?). What a person does when they're online is far more relevant than just the fact that they're online.
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dubbreak (623656) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:36PM (#31013020)
    I'd have to agree. I have experienced it and have family and friends as well. I sought distraction in other ways (speeding on motorcycles and drinking) and they were definitely not the cause. When you feel like shit you seek ways to make yourself feel anything else. Numb is a step up from depressed.

    I found anti-depressants (SSRIs, MAO inhibitors.. any kind I tried) numbing. Yes it made daily life more livable but I was stuck on 98%. I just wasn't quite there on the drugs. Life was better with drugs than without them at the time, but not quite as good as life prior w/o the drugs. Once I got off the anti-depressants I finally was able to have days where I felt 100%. I no longer feel slightly withdrawn from life (despite the fact I'm a software dev). Of course getting off antidepressants can be a bitch (withdrawal symptoms can be pretty bad).
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by derGoldstein (1494129) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:37PM (#31013038) Homepage
    Any content consumption can lead to different states of mind. Read enough Nietzsche (and/or that school of philosophy) and I dare you to stay optimistic.
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Myria (562655) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:53PM (#31013248)

    I have severe depression, and have suicidal thoughts pretty much every day. I use the Web and WoW to escape from my persistent gender dysphoria. In chat rooms and online games, I can be a girl, but not in real life.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:56PM (#31013312)

    (though from what I understand from TFA, it's mainly consumption of content they're referring to).

    That is the exact reason that I use the Web so often: content of any kind. I read a lot of things, and follow a few topics just out of the need to not ruminate on things. Message boards, chatrooms, etc. all help me communicate at some level after a period of very intense depression (such as now, where I just had to drop a semester), where the anxiety is killer.

  • Re:Content-free news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:46PM (#31013912) Homepage

    If I told you that 1.2% of people who used the Internet were convicted murderers, but failed to mention that 2% of the general population are convicted murderers, would I be right in claiming to have established a correlation between the Internet and murder?

    I can't answer that, but I can say that I'm now very scared by the idea that 1 in every 50 people I meet is a convicted murderer.

  • by BigSes (1623417) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:58PM (#31014066)
    I didn't RTFA, but things like this always make me think of gaming as "internet use" and if this would be part of the basis for these studies. People who are hopelessly addicted to playing WoW, Everquest, or even earlier games such as The Realm, often exhibit depressed and anti-social behaviors.

    I knew someone once who was generally quite depressed every single day (albiet not professionally diagnosed), who lived for WoW, nearly 8-10 hours a day (much more on weekends). No matter what degree of persuasion that I tried to give her, she was convinced that WoW was the answer, not the source. I thought it might be helpful to enjoy real life again for a while, and not count on that dependency.

    I also knew someone who played Everquest that, IRL, was clincally diagnosed as depressed and nearly bipolar. I was often told by him that after long bouts of the game, these tendencies would get worse. He would then start to exhibit those behaviors in game, and in the real world.

    With gaming, I think it might be possible that people get depressed because they realize its an addiction, and it makes them depressed upon realizing they have a problem. The cycle then begins and continues on and on. Thats why I think these studies really should include more than browsing before coming to a conclusion.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:10PM (#31014180)
    Always remember that you are not alone. I have similar problems, and there are many like us.
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:29PM (#31014382) Homepage Journal
    I was like you long ago, but then I stopped giving a fuck about what others thought of me. Made life 100% better.

    After I fixed that problem, I turned to the internet again because of new problems - one of them is that all of my friends got married and had kids, or they work exhausting hours. Do I envy them? Hell no, because I can go pub-crawling or kayaking while they're stuck indoors wasting all of their money and hard work on nagging, domineering wives and screaming, crapping, defiant kids. When they do have free time to visit we're always stuck at their house playing xBox with 5 year-olds or kicked out to the cold-ass garage before their wife makes me leave at 10pm on a Saturday. They're fucking miserable. Do not take your freedom for granted. Do not envy happy-looking couples, you don't see all of the fighting and control struggles behind the scenes.

    The other problem is having non-nerd friends. Everybody I know in real life is not very articulate and conversation is about typical, non-controversial things. Time spent on each topic is kept to a minimum. Trying to start a deep conversation about politics or technology rights just causes them to scratch their heads and rub their eyes in irritation.

    But things are different on the internet. What's so cool about the internet? Not having to give a fuck about what people think! Nigger, for example. There will always be at least 1 niche that will welcome your weirdness with open arms so that you don't have to deal with all of those hypocrites, phonies, and rubes we encounter in real life. Create a strong persona on the internet and become that persona. Let its toughness change your behavior in real life. Then, when you no longer give a fuck about what others think, they'll try harder to get your attention and win your approval. Pussy will throw itself at you left and right.
  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:50PM (#31014642)

    I have severe depression, and have suicidal thoughts pretty much every day. I use the Web and WoW to escape from my persistent gender dysphoria. In chat rooms and online games, I can be a girl, but not in real life.

    I've been in your exact same situation only a few months ago. As it happens going on estradiol and testosterone blockers have more or less pushed me from suicidal to feeling better than I even thought was humanly possible (was hard to predict in advance when you have little to compare with). Unfortunately not everybody has the same reaction, but if you're not already on them I can only recommend you give hormones a very serious thought. I know it can be hard to get them many places ( I was forced to self-medicate myself ) and that things are not that easy, but seeing your post more or less described my life 6 months ago I just wanted to let you know that things can get a heck of a lot better.

  • Re:I'll say... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:09PM (#31014854)

    I actually just gave 4chan as an example to point out an overall direction -- there are far worse places, where hatred and malice are directed to whichever cause you can think up

    That's not unique to the Internet.

    One of my flatmates watches three British soaps: EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. I don't watch them myself, but sometimes I see what's happening if I'm cooking when she's home. Most of the time, it's people shouting at each other, arguing, cheating, backstabbing, and generally spreading hatred around them. It's awful.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @08:53PM (#31017484)
    Wow. You describe the things I am going through for years and years now. Nice to know I'm not alone on Slashdot.

    Like you I use female characters in the MMO's I play as an outlet for what is going on inside me. Everyone I play City of Heroes with think I am a youngish girl and treat me like their little sister -- both women and men.

    Sorry for posting anon, but I'm not as brave as you =)

    Again, thank you for letting me feel not so alone.

COBOL is for morons. -- E.W. Dijkstra

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