Digital detoxification: take advantage of our addiction to smartphones
Researchers found a chemical imbalance in the brain of addicted smartphones and Internet users. Teen addicts had higher scores on the severity of insomnia, depression, anxiety and impulsivity.
( Krzysztof Kamil | Pixabay )
Researchers found evidence of chemical imbalance in the brains of young people who are addicted to smartphones and using the Internet. The imbalance relationship correlated significantly with addictions, anxiety and depression.
Smart Phone Testing and Internet Addiction
Researchers from a new study on smartphones and Internet addiction focused on the brain chemistry of young people who were diagnosed to be addicted to using their smartphones or the internet.
The researchers conducted the study on 19 young individuals who were diagnosed with Internet addiction or smartphones, and another group of 19 young individuals as healthy controls. The average age for both groups is 15.5, and both groups have nine men each. Of the addicted participants, 12 underwent cognitive-behavioral therapy for their addiction.
They used a standardized addiction test to determine the severity of participants' addictions, focusing on how Internet usage affects their social life, productivity, feelings, sleep patterns and daily routines. What they found was that the addicted participants scored higher in terms of insomnia, impulsivity, anxiety and depression.
"The higher the score, the more severe the addiction is," said Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, MD, one of the authors of the study.
The researchers also performed magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study the brain chemistry of the participants, both before and after cognitive behavioral therapy. They found that, compared to the MRS results of healthy individuals, the ratio of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) to glutamate-glutamine (Glx) increased in the brains of participants with Internet or smartphone addiction before therapy.
GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain that controls brain signals, while Glx is a neurotransmitter that excites neurons. In other studies, it has been shown that GABA participates in the regulation of certain brain functions, including anxiety. Too much can cause anxiety and drowsiness.
Consequence of addiction to smartphones and the Internet
The results of the study show that, like any other addiction, addictions to games, internet and smartphones can have serious implications. Although the researchers say that more studies may be needed to fully see the clinical implications of the findings, the good news is that the GAMA and Glx ratios of addicted patients returned to normal after cognitive behavioral therapy.
As a result, researchers believe that the chemical imbalance they observed in young participants could contribute to the way people understand addictions and treatments for them.
The results of the study were presented at the meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
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