Smartphone Addiction Linked to Chemical Imbalance and Depression

by Isabella Cruz |

Smartphone Addiction on the Rise

A recent study from the Radiological Society of North America has linked smartphone addiction with anxiety, depression, and more. As our society becomes more and more dependent on our phones for a variety of essential uses – communication, news, entertainment – smartphone addiction becomes more prevalent.

Researchers have discovered a link between the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) and longterm smartphone usage. The connection illustrates increased levels of GABA produced by those participants determined  smartphone addicted youths of the study. This neurotransmitter inhibits brain signals, which in turn slows down motor functions and motor control.

Smartphone addiction as defined within the study is the tendency of smartphone usage to interrupt essential daily tasks, such as sleep and social interactions within the lives of the participants. This emerging type of addiction is especially common amongst teenagers, the chosen focus group of the study. However, as smartphone usage becomes more and more entwined with daily life, this addiction will only become more and more common.

Smartphones and Neurotransmitter Imbalance

Increased levels of GABA are linked to depression, anxiety, and insomnia as the ratio of GABA to other, more responsive, neurotransmitters is increased. When increased compared to the neurotransmitter Gix (glutamate-glutamine) in particular, correlations to drowsiness and anxiety were found among study participants.

The correlative findings of this study are a breakthrough in the understanding of addictions and the relationships between the chemical balances within the minds of those addicted. Overall, the correlations found between these neurotransmitters may relate a loss in functional integration and regulation of processing in the cognitive and emotional neural network. A loss of quality in daily routines, productivity, sleeping patterns, and emotional instability were all found to be linked to this sort of imbalance.

Luckily, chemical imbalances amongst the affected participants were found to improve through already normalized methods of treating other technology addictions, such as addictions to gaming. This type of cognitive behavioral therapy was found to radically decrease or even normalize the ratio between GABA and Gix.

As the long-term effects of this sort of loss and impairment have yet to be explored, studies such as these are crucial in order to begin to understand treatment of long-term smartphone addiction.

Photo of Isabella Cruz

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