Smartphone addiction can mess up your brain chemistry, study suggests

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Addiction to smartphones in teenagers can lead to an imbalance in brain chemistry that triggers depression and anxiety

Currently, 46 percent of Americans report "not being able to live without their smartphones".

As nearly every second individual is dependant on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, besides the occasional disturbing phone call, socialogists and psychologists are up in arms over the declining interaction among the young poeple with others.

What's more, the chemical imbalance in the brain that the researchers observed has also been linked to the inability of patients to process experiences as they happen.

Nineteen youths - nine male and ten female with a mean age of fifteen and a half - were compared with healthy control subjects of the same gender.

As part of the study, the addicted youth were enrolled in cognitive behavioral therapy, which showed positive signs of normalizing the chemical imbalance, the researchers said.

Researchers used standardized internet and smartphone addiction tests to measure the severity of internet addiction.

The South Korean docs then used MRS, a scan that measures the brain's chemicals, to see how addiction affected routines, social life, sleeping, productivity and feelings.

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Measuring the severity of smartphone addiction using standardised tests, the team also found addicted teenagers had "significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity".

Hyung Suk Seo, M.D.

Their MRS exam revealed that the 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 research has found GABA to be involved in motor vision and control and regulation of various brain functions, including anxiety. These increased ratios of Glx and GABA were significantly correlated with the clinical scales of smartphone and internet addictions, depression and anxiety.

High levels of GABA can lead to several side effects, such as drowsiness and anxiety.

GABA is found in everybody's brain, except excessively of this neurotransmitter in the wrong zones can have stifling effects."When the typical capacity of the limbic framework is bothered, patients can create tension, wretchedness or enslavement", said Dr. Max Wintermark, a teacher of radiology and the head of neuroradiology at Stanford University.

"The increased GABA levels and disrupted balance between GABA and glutamate in the anterior cingulate cortex may contribute to our understanding the pathophysiology of and treatment for addictions".

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