Internet addiction as damaging as drugs
The discovery indicates that being hooked on the internet can be just as physically damaging as addiction to drugs.
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a recently recognised condition characterised by out-of-control internet use that impairs quality of life.
Denied access to their computers, people with this disorder may experience distress and withdrawal symptoms including tremors, obsessive thoughts, and involuntary typing movements of the fingers.
Until now research on IAD has focused on psychological assessments.
This study used a MRI technique to look at its effects on brain structure in 17 internet-addicted adolescents and 16 non-addicted individuals.
In the IAD-diagnosed teenagers, there was evidence of disruption to nerve fibres connecting vital parts of the brain involved in emotions, decision-making, and self-control.
Commenting on the findings, consultant psychiatrist at Imperial College London Dr