How to spot the danger signs of these modern day addictions.
Modern day addictions plague the best of us. We’re talking compulsiveness, loss of control or obsession with something – like smartphones, shopping and even food! For those with extreme addictions, it could affect their self-esteem, relationships and careers. So, if you notice someone displaying these signs (even yourself!), get her to speak to a medical professional.
Dr Lim Yun Chin, Specialist in Psychiatry & Consultant, Raffles Counselling Centre, Raffles Medical Group, highlights the signs and symptoms to note.
1. Modern Day Addiction: Internet & Social Media
Are you obsessed with social media? (Photo: My Make OU / www.123rf.com)
The first thing they do in a cafe is ask for the free wifi password, then log on to Facebook or Instagram to let friends and followers know what they are doing. Thanks to the ease of connectivity, staying wired has become a habit. For those with an internet or social media addiction, they feel lost or handicapped without their smartphone or tablet.
Some danger signs of internet or social media addiction include:
• Browsing the internet or social media daily or aimlessly and refusing to stop
• Getting irritated when browsing is disrupted or being unable to go online
• Isolation from offline or real relationships, such as family and friends
• Physical exhaustion, due to lack of sleep
2. Modern Day Addition: Gaming
Gamers get such a kick from beating their personal high scores, getting congratulated by fellow gamers and – the ultimate – winning a gaming tournament. Only thing is, online game never seem to end and many are now gaming and collaborating in real time mode.
Some danger signs of gaming addiction include:
• Being preoccupied with internet games
• Withdrawal symptoms manifest when internet gaming is taken away
• Loss of interest in hobbies, significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity as a result of participation in internet gaming
• A need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in internet gaming
3. Modern Day Addiction: Cosmetic Surgery
Given the rise in the number of cosmetic surgery tourists, this modern day addiction is definitely on an upsurge. Cosmetic surgery addiction actually stems from a psychological condition, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). A person with BDD is usually preoccupied with a slight (or imagined) body or facial defect that it disrupts her daily activities. Those with BDD are unlikely to be satisfied with a single cosmetic procedure.
Some danger signs of cosmetic surgery addictions include:
• Unrealistic expectations about the outcome of the surgery (for instance, that it can improve one’s relationships or career)
• Always finding something “wrong” or unacceptable on their face or body
• Gets hooked on the high of looking like their favourite celebrities
4. Modern Day Addiction: Shopping
Those with oniomania, or shopping addiction, are unable to control shopping urges. (Photo: David Gilder / www.123rf.com)
Everyone loves a good sale, but some might take it to extremes. For those with shopping addictions, or oniomania, the endorphins released in their brains during compulsive shopping reinforces their shopping habits. They may use this high as a solution for negative emotions such as sadness, stress and depression.
Some danger signs of shopping addiction include:
• Shopping as a reaction to feeling angry or depressed
• Shopping as a way to feel less guilty about a previous shopping spree
• Spending more than one can afford
• Losing control of the shopping behaviour
• Puts relationships at stake as a result of spending or shopping too much
5. Modern Day Addiction: Food
Other than for survival, our brains derive pleasure from eating. But foods like carbohydrates, sugars, fats and salt can overstimulate the pleasure centres of the brain, and create a drive to eat abnormally. It could also be a sign of a more serious medical condition, like binge eating order (where sufferers have episodes of compulsive overeating) or orthorexia (an obsession with eating healthy).
Some danger signs of food addiction include:
• Increasing food intake over time
• Spending more time eating and thinking about food, even spending less time on usual activities
• Finding the need to eat more than most people in order to feel satisfied
• Continuing to overeat in spite of knowing the consequences will lead to physical, psychological and/or relationship problems
6. Modern Day Addiction: Sex
Sometimes called hypersexuality, sex addiction is an obsession with sexual thoughts, behaviours or urges. Those with compulsive sexual behaviour can even cause emotional or physical harm to themselves or others.
Some danger signs of sex addiction include:
• Using compulsive sexual behaviour as an escape from problems
• Intense sexual impulses that are beyond control
• Continuing to engage in sexual behaviours that have serious consequences
• Trouble establishing and maintaining emotional closeness, even if married
• Feels driven to do certain sexual behaviours even though the activity is not a source of pleasure or satisfaction
This article was written by Joanna Lee and first appeared in Raffles Healthnews. It has been adapted for www.shape.com.sg.