Technology Withdrawal

Feb 29, 2024

Technology withdrawal involves the emotional, mental, and physical effects of quitting technology. This method helps those with a compulsion or addiction to technology. 

There is very little research about the cravings and withdrawals people experience after reducing or quitting their technology dependence. It’s impossible to quit technology altogether since it’s the way we socialize, work, and study. Because of this, research has shown that some people struggle to control their technology addiction. 

What is internet withdrawal?

The modern world has come with its share of problems. Internet use increased due to easy access to smartphones and tablets. Social media platforms and gaming apps have risen in popularity in recent years.

The internet also provides quick access to information. It can be highly addicting as a result. Internet addiction results in a loss of time and productivity. You might find that you have a compulsive desire to constantly be “online.” 

This addiction can affect your personal and professional life. To control the use of the internet, you might consider internet withdrawal. This method involves stopping, controlling, or abstaining from internet use. 

These are a few symptoms observed:

The best way to treat internet addiction is to supplement the habit with a healthy activity. For example, a social media detox isn’t sufficient enough on its own.

Instead, you can reward yourself for abstaining from the platform. Other approaches include trying a new hobby, keeping yourself productive, dealing with the underlying cause of your problem, and determining the reason for your internet addiction. 

Internet withdrawal involves the behavioral and psychological symptoms that arise after stopping internet use. The withdrawal phase is challenging but necessary to recover. You might notice that your cravings and urges are harder than ever.

Withdrawal is necessary to get past the point of addiction. Common signs of internet withdrawal include anxiety, depression, exhaustion, insomnia, irritability, oversleeping, mood swings, and psychosis. Each of these symptoms will decrease in severity over time. 

The Withdrawal Experience

According to Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous, the withdrawal experience is also known as the rock bottom point, in which you admit defeat. This phase will help you to construct a healthy lifestyle that’s free from internet dependence. Once you make the voice to break the addiction and abstain from unhealthy internet use, withdrawal is dependent on you. 

Withdrawal occurs at three levels -- emotional and mental, physical, and spiritual. First, you’ll experience your emotions and feelings with an open mind. Don’t use this time to judge or shame yourself. But it’s also important for you to be honest about your feelings. 

Emotional feelings from withdrawal can include anger, anxiety, depression, emptiness, fear, and loneliness. You have a physical hunger to fill the emotional emptiness with the internet to fill that void in your life. 

You’ll also experience physical symptoms such as body aches, exhaustion, insomnia, and restlessness. During this time, you would substitute the internet with other activities or hobbies. 

It’s also important to practice self-care during this time. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. 

You might find that you want to explore your spiritual side or seek relief from a Higher Power. Some support groups provide resources for your spiritual journey. They help open your mind, seek meaning and purpose, and believe in something greater than yourself.

Depression and Technology Dependence

Research shows there’s a link between technology dependence and depression. According to a 2012 study by the AMA, exposure to blue light from computers, smartphones, and television screens can mess up the circadian rhythm.

Over time, it can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia, and mood disorders. However, there are still questions on whether depression causes technology dependence or the other way around.

Some people turn to technology to escape extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness. On the other hand, technology addiction and compulsion can contribute to depression. 

This research also suggests that technology overuse can cause negative thoughts, poor mental health, and disrupted sleep patterns. Harvard Medical School reported that close to 90% of adult patients with major depression also have sleep issues. 

Treatment for Addiction to Technology

At the time of this writing, there is no official diagnosis by the DSM-5 for technology addiction. Still, there are treatment options that address the underlying issue of the problem. 

Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps you develop the skills to assess and heal from challenges associated with your addiction.

Most people addicted to technology tend to escape from their distressing thoughts like financial stress or family problems. Patients can change the way they use and see technology in therapy.

Exposure therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps patients face their fears and avoidance issues. It helps with healthy habits and emotional regulation. 

Motivational enhancement therapy is a type of counseling therapy that helps patients recognize their feelings before and after technology use. It also helps them become aware of the consequences of their behaviors.

Meanwhile, medication-assisted treatment uses a combination of medication and talk therapy. A physician prescribes medication that treats symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. Each MAT session is tailored to the patient’s specific needs. 

If you’re struggling with excessive internet use and want to consider treatment, contact Birches Health to consider your options. 

 

Resources:

Technology Craving and Withdrawal: Exploring Compulsive Mobile App Use

Internet Addiction

Navigating Withdrawals – Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous

Technology and Depression

Sleep and Mental Health - Harvard Medical School

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