Social media addiction recognised as official condition

Tuesday 12 February 2013 15.15
A study last year by the University of Chicago found social media can even be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol
A study last year by the University of Chicago found social media can even be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol

Addiction to social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter has become an official condition with London clinics treating hundreds of sufferers a year.

Many clinics across the UK are treating patients addicted to social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

In the UK, social media has been recognised as an official addiction.

A study last year by the University of Chicago found it can even be more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.

The research shows that social network features such as

Likes and re-tweets give users a burst of the addictive neurotransmitter dopamine, while a lack of endorsements can provoke jealousy and anxiety.

Signs of addiction include spending more than five hours per day on a social media website.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham says he treats around 100 social media addicts a year at this clinic in London, which he says is linked to gaming and internet addictions.

"They start to miss or avoid doing the necessary things in life, even at a fundamental level of self-care. They delay eating or avoid eating or drinking, delay sleep, miss meetings or delay getting into work or college", said Mr Graham.

The Tavistock and Portman Clinic is an NHS clinic in London devoted to treating social media addiction.

He says teenage girls are the most susceptible to social media addiction, with peer pressure and the need to be seen online both major factors.

Treatment begins with complete abstinence and a timetable of organised activities.

He can then determine what factors may be luring a patient back to their addiction.

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