The Link Between Phone Addiction and Mental Health Issues

When you look at how connected our world is with technology, handheld smartphones specifically, it’s hard to disprove there may be a link. The one in which I speak of is the…

how phone addiction contributes to mental health issues - Maui Recovery

When you look at how connected our world is with technology, handheld smartphones specifically, it’s hard to disprove there may be a link. The one in which I speak of is the link between phone addiction and mental health issues. Phones are a blessing in one way, and have become a curse in another way for some. Think for example, when you find your child snuck behind the sofa hiding their phone use from you. As human beings, real life connection can be at the foundation of our mental health, so it may be no surprise then that a lack of it can have negative effects. Was there substantial value in talking together at the dinner table with family, of course! Does that same value apply when watching something on your phone together at that same dinner table- probably not. Proving this link however is still in debate, as phone addiction disorder itself is still very new to the psychologist world. 

How To Define Phone Addiction In Today’s World

Someone having a phone addiction can be classified as someone with a disorder involving compulsive overuse of their phone or mobile devices. Phone addiction is also usually quantified as the number of times a user accesses their device and/or the total amount of time they are online over a specified period. It is important to understand that compulsive smartphone use is just one type of technology addiction. Brain imaging research shows that stimulating glowing screens are as dopamine-activating to the brain’s pleasure center as sex. Phone notifications such as a ‘Like’, ‘Comment’, or ‘Follow’ can actually trigger the brain for dopamine release and instigate addiction. If you’re thinking this seems a bit dramatic, then consider the linked disorders found to be correlated with phone addiction. 

The Link Between Phone Addiction And Mental Health Issues

In recent findings, smartphone addiction research correlates the link between phone addiction and mental health disorders. Disorders such as ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that drug addiction can. Quoting our co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras- “I’ve worked with hundreds of heroin addicts and crystal meth addicts, and what I can say is that it’s easier to treat a heroin addict than a true screen addict.” Some of what can be done to reduce phone addiction depends on awareness, as both an individual and society.

Interestingly enough, there have been quite a few tech genius minds that are aware of the link between phone addiction and mental health issues too. Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent In 2010, when a reporter suggested that his children must love the just-released iPad, he replied: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” (New York Times September 10, 2014.) This should speak volumes, as ironically, Apple and its enormously famous iPhone have played a huge role in smartphone availability and demand. Being aware of your screen time, or someone you love such as a child you are concerned about, is key. Perhaps balance is the answer for what can be done to reduce phone addiction, as balance is also maybe the key to life in general. Phones and their role in everyday life can be kept at a healthy level when used as needed, and in mindful amounts of time. Maui Recovery understands this importance, especially for our younger generations. 

Mental Health Issues That Can Be Aggravated By Phone Addiction

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems and include: Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry, Life experiences such as trauma or abuse, and Family history of mental health problems. The link between phone addiction and mental health issues is substantial, as they tend to feed each other in not such a good way. Common conditions that require mental health treatment are:

Anxiety and Depression – Anxiety and depression tend to offer short-term relief when it feels like the world is closing in on you. If they take over, however, and you can’t function (or even get out of bed), it’s important to get help. You may realize that depression and anxiety run your life. You may know you need to get to the heart of the matter – you’re just not sure where to start. Let Omega Recovery help; our well-trained and caring team of clinicians can help you work through the pain, develop the tools and make the lifestyle changes that you need to live a healthier, happier life.

Trauma -The moment we experience trauma, our world is shattered. Our sense of safety and security disappears, leaving us feeling vulnerable, helpless, and paranoid. It does not matter if physical harm has taken place or not – any situation that leaves us scared or emotionally overwhelmed can be traumatic. It’s not what happened, it’s how it’s interpreted. The higher the anxiety, the higher the chances of traumatization–and the higher the likelihood of addictive self-medicating. At Omega Recovery, we use a variety of trauma-informed mental health treatment modalities to help the struggling trauma client not just survive–but thrive!

Codependency – At Omega Recovery, we believe that Codependency stems from growing up in a troubling environment. Our focus is on emotional dilemmas that form when people have tough childhoods. People who endured abuse or neglect during childhood tend to pick up harmful behaviors. Some classic examples include caretaking, misery addiction, control addiction, people pleasing and approval seeking. Codependent people can also suffer from obsessive over-analyzing and quickly wear themselves out. People who grew up under traumatizing circumstances can also fall victim to “catastrophizing”. They expect the worst to happen in any situation. Anything positive is negative, and disaster lurks around every corner. To them, this is perfectly normal. At Omega Recovery, by ushering them through our mental health treatment options with an understanding hand, we heighten their chances of breaking through the agonizing patterns that make up codependency.

Bipolar Disorder – Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). This particular disorder requires mental health treatment early on to best help the struggling individual.

Borderline Personality Disorder – Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships. With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.

Thought Disorder – Thought Disorder refers to disorganized thinking as evidenced by disorganized speech. Specific thought disorders include derailment, poverty of speech, tangentiality, illogicality, perseveration, and thought blocking. Thought Disorder is a hallmark feature of schizophrenia but is also associated with other conditions including mood disorders, dementia, mania, and neurological diseases.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – An anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. At Omega Recovery, by ushering them through mental health treatment options with an understanding hand, we heighten their chances of developing the tools and make the lifestyle changes that you need to live a healthier, happier life.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – is a psychiatric disorder that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Omega Recovery uses a variety of trauma-informed mental health treatment modalities to help the struggling trauma client not just survive–but thrive!

Lack of Purpose or Meaning in One’s Life – For many, addiction is about escaping pain–physical or emotional. Yet for others, their addiction is all about filling a sense of emptiness that exists in their lives. These “existential crises” can be a result of retirement, divorce, illness, a death in the family…or merely a sense of purposelessness that leads to a life adrift and devoid of meaning. These are very often the conditions that lead to an endless cycle of self-medicating to fill the void of meaning and purpose that has developed. And the link between phone addiction and mental health issues is part of the felt void. 

Maui Recovery Knows The Link Between Phone Addiction And Mental Health Issues

At Maui Recovery, we offer our clients the best treatments for mental health issues through our community integrated programs. Traditional mental health centers put the struggling individual in an artificial treatment bubble where it’s relatively easy to get well. But, inevitably when that client leaves treatment, they are unprepared to deal with the stress of everyday life. In this “community integration” model the clients get to experience life; shopping in the supermarket, going to a barbeque, going to a doctor’s appointment, and going to a job interview for example. All with staff supervision and clinical support that can help process any and all the feelings and emotions that can so often arise in early recovery. Maui Recovery is a holistically oriented counseling and wellness center that offers comprehensive services and treatment to clients and their families seeking recovery. We understand the link between phone addiction and mental health issues, which is why our clients come to us. Phone addiction and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD oftentimes come together to create the perfect storm.

Maui Recovery’s mental health treatment philosophy embraces the notion that all people have the capacity to grow, flourish, and self-actualize once they break free from addiction. The tight grip of phone addiction and psychological challenges that have been negatively impacting their lives. We honor the concept of the Omega Point, a term coined by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which he used to describe the pinnacle of human consciousness and evolution. Thus, in order to help our clients reach their full potential, the licensed clinicians and certified counselors at Maui Recovery will use a variety of therapeutic techniques. Evidence-based modalities to assist our clients in overcoming their challenges to feel “more comfortable in their own skin”. This aims to help clients meaningfully move forward in their lives, find their purpose, and discover their authentic selves.

Maui Recovery Offers The Best Mental Health Treatment Options Available 

There is no doubt a link between phone addiction and mental health issues, as both are on the continual rise. At Maui Recovery, we do a thorough assessment to get to the underlying causes of the psychological distress for mental health treatment. If a sense of emptiness is the culprit, then beginning to work with a thoughtful clinician to find meaning and purpose in one’s life is the solution. We use Viktor Frankl’s “Logotherapy” to help drifting and lost Maui Recovery clients find their purpose and passion in their lives. Once a person is aligned with a sense of purpose, very often their lives become more manageable. If you or a loved one are seeking treatment for phone addiction and mental health issues, look to Maui Recovery for the best options available!

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If you’re struggling with an addiction, or know a friend or family member who is, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here for you.

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