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Facebook Addiction May Cause Psychosis

Excessive social networking can lead to delusions, anxiety and confusion, a study finds.

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By McCarton Ackerman

11/21/12

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Watch out: those late-night Facebook binges and Twitter benders might actually be making you crazy. A new study out of Israel reports that excessive use of social networking sites can lead to psychotic symptoms such as delusions, anxiety and confusion. Dr. Uri Nitzan, of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, presented three in-depth cases involving patients who sought refuge from a lonely situation in intense virtual relationships. The study showed that all of these online relationships led to feelings of hurt, betrayal, and invasion of privacy. Two patients felt vulnerable after sharing private information, while the third patient experienced tactile hallucinations, believing that the person beyond the screen was physically touching her. “All of the patients developed psychotic symptoms related to the situation, including delusions regarding the person behind the screen and their connection through the computer,” says Nitzan. "As internet access becomes increasingly widespread, so do related psychopathologies such as internet addiction and delusions related to the technology and to virtual relationships. Computer communications such as Facebook and chat groups are an important part of this story." According to many psychologists, addiction to social networking sites like Facebook is a growing problem; "Internet addiction disorder" is being considered for inclusion in the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

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