Internet addiction a mental disorder

Internet addiction is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders, according to an editorial in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry. "Excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations and e-mail/text messaging" are signs of Internet addiction, the editorial says.

Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges and withdrawal, according to Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. He said they require more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online. Addicts can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives," like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.

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