As per a study conducted by researchers of San Francisco State University in the US, smartphone addiction and mental illnesses might be linked. As per the team, smartphone addiction is often found in people who are depressed, lonely and have a higher level of anxiety.

The behavioural addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief, gradually – Erik Peper from San Francisco State University.

The researchers claimed that smartphone addiction and overuse is just like any other form of addiction, namely drug abuse and caffeine overdose.

Smartphone Addiction Depression, Anxiety and LonelinessIn a survey of 135 students, it was found that students who used their phones more reported higher levels of loneliness, depression and anxiety.

The study was published in the journal of NeuroRegulation. As per the team, loneliness is partly a consequence of replacing face-to-face interaction with a form of communication where body language and other signals cannot be interpreted.

The same students almost constantly multi-tasked while studying, watching other media, eating or attending class. The constant activity prevents the body from relaxing and regenerating. This also leads to something called, “semi-tasking,” where people can do multiple tasks but can’t fully concentrate in any one particular or can’t do any of them properly.

Smartphone Addiction Depression, Anxiety and LonelinessThe study claimed that the tech industry has been misusing latest discoveries about our psychology, creating an artificial system of need and satisfaction. The most prime one was push notifications and alerts that divert our attention from our normal routine to attain satisfaction.

Push notifications, vibrations and other alerts on our phones and computers make us feel compelled to look at them by triggering the same neural pathways in our brains that once alerted us to imminent danger, such as an attack by a tiger or other large predator

Peper suggested disabling notifications that aren’t important, especially during work or any other activity that demands our increased focus.

This however also brings to mind the fact that people who are already depressed or struggling with anxiety fall prey to drugs. These people are also addicted to their smartphones and other forms of social media due to a lack of companionship or perhaps difficulty in making friends.

Smartphone Addiction Depression, Anxiety and LonelinessTherefore, it might not be totally illogical to think that the tech industry is targeting people with depression or/and anxiety and further crippling them with smartphone addiction. A person who has dozens of friends is more likely to ignore a notification/text than someone who has only one or two. This is possibly due to fear of rejection or curiosity to discover who might be trying to communicate with them.

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