New Study Suggests Cell Phone Addiction Is Linked to Depression

depressionA recent study suggests addicted cellphone users could be depressed. Everyone knows someone who cannot stop looking at their phone long enough to have a personal conversation. According to the results of the study, this behavior might be more than an annoying habit, and could potentially be a sign that the cell phone addict is depressed.

The study requested 28 adults to respond to a detailed questionnaire which is used to diagnose depression. In addition to the survey, participants allowed an app to be installed on their mobile devices in order to track their location and how much they used their cellphones for a two-week period. The software updated itself every five minutes. According to analysis from the questionnaire, happier people used their phones much less than those who were identified as depressed.

According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, people who spend more time at home are also more likely to have signs of depression. David Mohr, a researcher of Northwestern University in Chicago, said, people who spend a lot of time at home often reflect a loss of motivation which is often witnessed in depression. When referencing cell phone addiction, Mohr said it echoes compulsive behavior; another sign of depression. He added:

People are likely, when on their phones, to avoid thinking about things that are troubling, painful feelings or difficult relationships. It is an avoidance behavior we see in depression.

While it is without question that this is the connected generation that is “always on” there are issues which can arise from being constantly connected such as being disconnected from present surroundings. Millennials text, Instagram, Kik, Snapchat, Facebook, and tweet all before the average person finishes breakfast. Many adults are not on every platform of social media like the younger generation, but still grab their phone first thing in the morning to catch up on the news, check the weather and email, as well as update their Facebook status. It is also the last thing many adults do before going to bed.

depressionA recent study suggests cellphone addiction is linked to depression. Does this behavior signify an addiction? In all cases no, however, the main characteristic of addiction is the loss of control over a particular behavior. The most harmless things can become addictive, not just things such as drugs or gambling. With the new generation of technology, cell phones have become the “acceptable” addiction.

The emergence of smartphones has intensified society’s addiction to connectivity and pleasure. Scientists, according to several studies, have shown that brains get a hit of dopamine as soon as a person’s phone gives off a chirp, ring or vibration. When people have an addiction they often search for ways to justify the habit or habitual use of an item. Moreover, society seems to dictate how important it is to be constantly connected. This myth says, “Not only is it possible, but beneficial and necessary.”

In 2008 British researchers first coined the term nomophobia to describe people who experienced anxiety when access to mobile technology, such as their cell phone, was not available. Recent studies have shown that the percentage of people who feared a loss of their phone or its usage has nearly doubled. Nomophobia victims who have anxiety about being “phone-less” worry about turning off their phones, running out of battery power, while constantly checking for new notifications such as social media alerts, email, texts, and calls.

For the younger generation, this has become so much the norm that there is no way it could signify an addiction. However, the need for anything in order to feel normal and free from anxiety, is not only an addiction but a disability. Now a study has connected this type of behavior to the possibility of depression.

Addiction to mobile technology may not be as toxic as other addictions such as nicotine, drugs or alcohol, but it can be considered a “gateway drug” which fuels behavior mirroring anxiety and depression.  Habitual cell phone users are cheating themselves out of experiencing life. They may be present physically but often find themselves somewhere else mentally.

Reportedly the data collected from the app allowed depression to be spotted with 87 percent accuracy. If cell phone usage is just recreational try scaling back and see if anxiety replaces the feelings of dopamine. According to a new study which links cellphone addiction to depression, it may be time for cell phone rehab.

by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


Independent Online: Cellphone addicts ‘could be depressed’
Lauderdale Daily News: Mobile phone addicts suffer Depression
Huffington Post: Cell Phones: A Potentially Deadly Addiction

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Scott Beale – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Stefan Insam – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Andres Rodriguez – Flickr License

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