The psychiatric department at Gemelli hospital in Rome has opened a new centre for sufferers of internet addiction disorder (IAD). The department already treats a range of dependencies from drugs and alcohol to gambling, but it has now extended its services to include people addicted to using the internet.
In 1995 the American psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg identified the main symptoms of IAD, including the need to spend an increasing amount of time using the internet, less interest in any other activities, feelings of anxiety, depression and worry about what might be happening on-line when not using the web and the continued use of the internet despite the problems it might be creating with family, friends, school or work. Other symptoms are mood changes and physical and health problems such as sleep deprivation, bad eyesight, back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Federico Tonioni, a psychiatrist at the new centre, explains: