Smartphone ‘Addiction’ Creates Brain Imbalance

Smartphone use tied to depression, anxiety … 

(PRNewswire) Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people ‘addicted’ to smartphones and the internet.

A study finds significant correlations among smartphone ‘addiction’, depression and anxiety. SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America

According to a recent study, 46 percent of Americans say they could not live without their smartphones.

While this sentiment is clearly hyperbole, more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smartphones and other portable electronic devices.

Along with a growing concern that young people, in particular, may be spending too much time staring into their phones instead of interacting with others, come questions as to the immediate effects on the brain and the possible long-term consequences of such habits.

Hyung Suk Seo, M.D. of Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues studied 19 teenagers diagnosed with ‘internet or smartphone addiction’ and 19 gender- and age-matched healthy controls.

Dr. Seo reported that the addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity.

The researchers performed MRS exams on the addicted youth prior to and following behavioral therapy and a single MRS study on the control patients to measure levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits or slows down brain signals, and glutamate-glutamine (Glx), a neurotransmitter that causes neurons to become more electrically excited.

Previous studies have found GABA to be involved in vision and motor control and the regulation of various brain functions, including anxiety.

The results of the MRS revealed that, compared to the healthy controls, the ratio of GABA to Glx was significantly increased in the anterior cingulate cortex of smartphone- and internet-addicted youth prior to therapy.

Dr. Seo said the ratios of GABA to creatine and GABA to glutamate were significantly correlated to clinical scales of internet and smartphone addictions, depression and anxiety. Read the full story at PRNewswire. Also of interest: Forget Risky Rx; We Found 3 Safe Remedies That Are Proven Stress-Busters