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The 2010 Suggested Diagnostic Criteria for Internet Addiction

Published in the journal Addiction in Feb 2010; here are the proposed diagnostic criteria for Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

Based on the recommended criteria, to meet a diagnosis of IAD a person must display both of the following symptoms:

1. A preoccupation with the internet (thinking a lot about time spent in the past online or anticipating and planning a coming online session)

2. Withdrawal symptoms – after a few days without access to the internet IAD sufferers will experience symptoms such as dysphoria, boredom, anxiety and irritability.

And at least one of the following symptoms:

  1. Tolerance – needing to spend increasing amounts of time online achieve the same level of satisfaction that was previously achieved after briefer sessions
  2. Wanting to reduce time spent online – Either a persistent desire to reduce time spent online or previous attempts and failures in limiting time spent online
  3. Continuing to use the internet despite knowing the harms it does you – you continue to excessively use the internet even though you know that your use of the internet causes you physical or psychiatric harms (Or worsens existing problems)
  4. Losing interest in things that were previously enjoyed – you no longer participate at the same level in hobbies or activities that you used to enjoy or find meaningful because of your excessive use of the internet
  5. Using the internet to feel better – to relieve negative emotions, such as dysphoria, anxiety, guilt and others

Additionally:

  1. Your behaviors cannot be better explained by another mental health disorder
  2. Your internet usage must cause you significant life impairment, such as the loss of a job or important relationship or reduced capacity to perform at work or school
  3. Your excessive internet usage must be ongoing for longer than 3 continuous months and you must spend more than 6 hours online per day (not including time spent online at work or for school)1

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