Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology at Yale University (USA) Marc Potenza warns, in an interview with Efe, about the growing number of disorders associated with the use of the Internet in recent years and calls for maximum attention "because addictions grow to network".
Potenza, who is a psychiatrist specializing in Children's Studies and Neurobiology, has traveled to Barcelona to participate in a day on addictions at the Bellvitge Hospital in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat.
The North American psychiatrist, who is also director of the Problem Gambling Clinic, maintains that although "the Internet can have educational functions", the use of the Internet as a method of entertainment "can lead to addictive behaviors".
According to the expert, who has received multiple international awards for his work on addictions, warns that determining that a person is addicted to the Internet is something gradual and often difficult to detect, although "the turning point is when the use of the Internet interferes in the basic activities of the person, "he says.
Potenza explains that the term "Internet addiction" was introduced more than 20 years ago to define those people who "expressed strong desires" to use the internet, to the point that "affected their day to day", such as "the school , work or family responsibilities. "
This type of addiction affects, according to Potenza, especially "the most vulnerable groups of the population" such as people who "suffer from depression or hyperactivity disorders," although he warns that "everyone can suffer this type of addiction."
Professor Potenza details that "as far as age is concerned, young people are the group most affected by this type of disorder", although middle-aged people and even "older groups" may also experience this type of problem. "
On the other hand, the psychiatrist does not observe differences between genders beyond that "men are the ones who play the most on the internet", but that does not leave women exempt from developing "serious problems with games", which initially are free in the network "but you end up paying large amounts of money to continue playing."
Precisely, warns that this type of games on the Internet can lead to "serious gambling problems, so we would no longer be talking only about an Internet addict, but a gambling addict", underlines Potenza, who received his Ph.D. Yale School of Medicine in 1993.
Treating Internet addiction "is still being studied", since it is a relatively recent phenomenon, but Potenza, which in 2008 promoted a pathological treatment center of the game at the Ramon y Cajal Hospital in Madrid, argues that "treat other Any disturbances the patient may have, such as depression or hyperactivity "can help" control addictive behavior ".
The American psychiatrist stresses the importance of "observing oneself using the internet to detect possible addictive behaviors" and "asking for medical help" when there is a suspicion.
Marc Potenza, along with other world experts in behavioral addictions like Jon Grant, participated last Wednesday in the day 'Hooked On Wifi', organized by the Psychiatric Service of Bellvitge-IDIBELL Hospital and the COST program (Eropean Cooperation in Sciende and Technology).
During the day, the experts analyzed different aspects of this type of addiction, from the impulses that lead people to spend hours on the internet to possible treatments when this dedication becomes a problem that affects the person's life.
Núria Poncela García