Internet addiction is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that affects approximately 10 percent of people who spend time online. OCD symptoms can range from mild to severe, and people who live it have the urge to perform certain rituals on a regular basis. Some people check the locks on their doors and windows, while others wash their hands several times a day. The urge to surf the Internet is another example of this kind of ritualistic behavior.
Internet addiction can lead to the person feeling anxious or depressed. You may be thinking that teens are the age group most likely to develop an Internet addiction. If the problem becomes severe enough, the young person can isolate themselves in their home in front of the computer screen and interact with people they meet online only.
Another group of people who are at a higher risk of developing an Internet addiction are middle-aged men and women whose children have grown up and left home. These "Empty Nesters" may start spending more time online as a way to fill in their time. For both groups, the Internet addiction may experience the following kinds of symptoms:
- difficulty sleeping
- problems at work or school due to excessive Internet use
- anxiety when unable to be online
- symptoms of deep depression (hopelessness, sadness, lack of motivation)
- social isolation as far as family and friends are concerned
A person who has an Internet addiction will spend a lot of time thinking about being online when they are not actually surfing the Internet. They may feel anxious or depressed if they try to cut back on their online activities on their own. Part of the addiction involves lying to employers, family members and possibly the individual's therapist about the amount of time being spent online.