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Pathological Internet Use Linked to Teen Depression

Study included Chinese teens who took Internet Addiction Test; depression risk higher at follow-up

TUESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Pathological Internet use among adolescents who are initially free of mental health problems may be linked to later depression, according to research published online Aug. 2 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Lawrence T. Lam, Ph.D., of the University of Notre Dame Australia in Darlinghurst, and Zi-Wen Peng, of the SunYat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, analyzed data from 1,041 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 who were below the cutoff on self-rated anxiety and depression scales. Pathological Internet use was assessed with the Internet Addiction Test.

The researchers found that, at nine-month follow-up, the risk of depression was higher in those with pathological Internet use (incidence rate ratio, 2.5), compared to those who didn't use the Internet pathologically.

"As we understand that mental health problems among adolescents bear significant personal costs as well as costs to the community, early intervention and prevention that targets at-risk groups with identified risk factors is effective in reducing the burden of depression among young people," the authors write. "A screening program for pathological use of the Internet could also be considered in all high schools to identify individuals at risk for early counseling and treatment."

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