Ask Dr. Nandi: Addiction to smart devices can lead to brain abnormalities

Posted at 2:01 PM, Dec 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-11 15:37:14-05

Many of us know intuitively that spending too much time on our smartphones can have negative impacts on our physical and mental health. But according to a recent study, there’s proof that it can actually alter brain chemistry.

Scientists have learned that chemical imbalances exist in the brains of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet. When tested, such people showed significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, impulsivity, and insomnia than did peers who spent less time on their devices. 

They looked at 19 people who were diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction, and then compared them to 19 healthy folks who were part of a control group.

What they found was that the addicted people showed chemicals irregularities in their brains. Specifically, they had increased levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which can lead to things like drowsiness and anxiety. 

Partha’s Rx

  1. Have designated times to check your smartphone during the day. 
  2. Consider taking occasional internet “vacations” to unplug completely for a few days or weeks. 
  3. When the sun goes down, put your phone down too. Too much screen time at night can hurt sleep.
  4. If you think you’re at risk of becoming addicted to your smart device, seek professional therapy. 

Nearly half of American adults now claim they couldn’t live without their smartphones.That sounds like addiction to me!

The good news is that there ARE forms of therapy that can help reverse internet and phone addiction, like cognitive behavioral therapy. But it’s important for viewers to realize that this is a real thing, with potentially serious consequences.