Treating Social Isolation and Internet Addiction

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Treating Social Isolation and Internet Addiction

Internet addiction and isolation often coincide when an individual spends most of their time alone and online. As technology advances and young people become increasingly present online, internet addiction becomes even more of a widespread issue. Learn more about social isolation, internet addiction, and how Avalon Malibu aims to heal the root cause of addiction so you can live a fuller, more social life.

Normal Introversion vs. Social Isolation

Introverts are sometimes mistaken as people in need of social interaction or even incapable of doing so. However, this isn’t true at all. They are often completely healthy in their desire for alone time. Enjoying solitude is much different than fearing social interaction. This is where social isolation comes into play. When someone self-isolates, they cut off ties with friends and loved ones and insist on being alone even if they want social interaction.

Social isolation can be both a cause and a symptom of depression. This self-imposed isolation only makes their depression worse, creating a cycle of worsening symptoms. There are various reasons why some people isolate themselves. This includes feeling scared or worried about embarrassing themselves, feeling misunderstood, or even feeling like others don’t care to be with them. Whatever the reason, social isolation can become dangerous if left untreated.

Understanding Internet Addiction Disorder

While internet addiction disorder is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly referred to as the DSM-5), it is still considered a prevalent mental health concern. Internet addiction disorder can be defined as a need or urge to go online despite negative impacts on daily life, including career and relationships. This addiction is often also called pathological internet use, internet dependence, or compulsive computer use.

Some mental health experts agree that excessive Internet use is not its own disorder but rather a symptom of other mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety. However, cases of internet addiction disorder do contain the basic elements of addiction. These characteristics include a loss of control, tolerance, withdrawal, and continuing internet use despite adverse outcomes.

While the U.S. government has not made any public statements of concern over internet addiction, countries like China and South Korea have declared this addiction disorder a public health threat.

Signs of Internet Addiction Disorder

Some professionals use the following criteria to determine if someone is struggling with internet addiction disorder. If five or more of these symptoms are present, then the individual most likely requires professional help:

  • Spends significant time thinking about the internet, including past online activity and future online sessions
  • Requires increased amounts of time online to feel satisfied
  • Has wanted to reduce internet use but was unable to do so
  • Experiences mood changes or feels irritable when internet use is reduced
  • Stays online longer than they planned
  • Risks relationships, career, or education for continued internet use
  • Has tried to hide their internet use
  • Treats internet use as an escape from daily issues or emotional distress

Internet Addiction and Isolation Often Coincide

Increased time online usually results in increased time in isolation. There is a term originating from Japan that describes someone who is addicted to the internet and self-isolates. This term is “hikikomori” and is considered a phenomenon in the country due to the large number of people who experience it. Those experiencing hikikomori are known to withdraw socially for months or even years, leaving all responsibilities and relationships behind.

While hikikomori is certainly an extreme case, it does exemplify the correlation between social isolation and internet addiction. One seems to occur in the presence of the other and needs to be treated to discover the individual’s true cause for self-isolating and internet addiction.

Many conditions can be at the root of these issues, such as depression, trauma, anxiety, and more. Speaking with a mental health professional can help a person find the cause of their addiction and learn how to overcome it.

Treating Internet Addiction and Social Isolation

Internet addiction and social isolation can quickly take over a person’s life, but it doesn’t have to. At Avalon Malibu, we treat various types of mental health concerns and addictions, including internet addiction. Mindfulness-based therapy can help individuals unlearn their addictive patterns. This mindfulness practice, via focused awareness, is a crucial asset for transforming harmful behavioral habits.

Clients can assist with behavioral change using nonjudgmental, contemplative strategies. Internet addiction frequently places people on autopilot, relying on coping strategies that have been reinforced through time, such as self-isolation. Mindfulness-based treatments allow clients to actively experience and analyze their addictive habits and further understand how they can transform them into healthy coping skills for a better, more stable lifestyle.

Our medical professionals work closely with clients in individual therapy sessions to address sources of anxiety, depression, and avoidance that provide the basis for internet addiction to form. Our compassionate staff, which specializes in anxiety reduction, psychological disorder therapy, and trauma recovery, assists clients in identifying and resolving the underlying reasons for their compulsive behaviors.

There’s no need to let internet addiction consume your life and isolate you from the world. Make a change and step out of your comfort zone to find a more fulfilling and healthy life. If you or a loved one is struggling with internet addiction and isolation, Avalon Malibu can help. Along with our established psychotherapy treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, we offer therapeutic methods such as art therapy, yoga, and writing therapy to reflect on and restore mental health. Our caring staff is fully prepared to support you or your loved one throughout the recovery process and ensure a strong start to a life of healing. Learn more about our internet addiction treatment by calling (844) 857-5992.

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