Kathmandu Internet has become a very big part of our lifestyle. It is definitely handy at work and to get the needed information. And with varieties of apps, games and social media platforms on offer, it is a great way to kill time for many, especially youngsters. But using Internet beyond one’s designated purpose, going overboard could result in mental health problems like Internet gaming disorder, Dr Atul Ambekar, Professor Psychiatry at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (India) warned. “When the use of Internet isn’t purposeful, then it too could be an addiction. If a person is using the Internet for as long as 16-20 hours and there is no tangible use of the Internet, rather the daily activities of the user(s) are affected, then it is likely to be an Internet addiction,” elaborated Dr Ambekar. Internet-based addiction include cyber sex, text chat, online video gaming, online gambling, pornography, excessive use of social media, among others. He explained, “When one is using Internet for a professional or academic or even recreational purpose, it doesn’t mean it is causing any addiction. Even when people play games both on and offline for long hours to earn points, one is not addicted to Internet. When you feel that you are losing control over the behaviour which you are engaging in — that’s when it may constitute as addiction.” The doctor was in the Capital to present his paper on ‘Behavioural Addictions: Concepts and Controversies’ during the 6th National Conference of Psychiatrists’ Association of Nepal (PANCONKTM 2017). As per him, someone playing games for 18-20 hours a day without paying due regard to other responsibilities is going through the condition of Internet gaming addiction. There are massive multiplayer online games on the Internet creating a virtual world. “These are the kinds of games people are found to be most addicted to — people take online avatars for themselves and play these games simultaneously with literally thousands of other players around the world, each one trying to outdo the other and score more points. For people who are engaged in such addictive behaviour, the number one priority in their life is to play the games and earn more points which becomes the very reason of existence for living. They simply can’t leave their gaming station or work station once they start playing.” Without paying attention to their health, such people only perform their biological functions, don’t eat or drink, but keep playing. “These are the people who can be seriously suffering from gaming addiction. These are the extreme kind of cases which require urgent help,” added Dr Ambekar. Adolescents at risk People of any age group can become addicted to Internet games, but it is young adolescents, basically boys, who are more affected as they like to spend more time on computers, use the Internet, play games, et cetera. “They are the ones who have free time and are interested in the latest technologies,” Dr Ambekar cited pointing out, “This is something young psychiatrists of Nepal should be aware of and should start developing their capacity right from this point so that when the problem surfaces on an increasing scale, we are ready to deal with it.” How do we tackle it? “Research is ongoing and it is the need of the hour. At this moment, treatment for such cases are psychological help. Or self limitation can help him/her to get rid of such a disorder,” informed Dr Ambekar.
More on mental health KATHMANDU: “Anxiety and depression are very common mental health problems that many of us suffer from. But when your daily activities are not disturbed, it is nothing to get worried. But if your mental functions are disturbed and you are unable to carry out your daily activities, then you need medical intervention because you are suffering from mental health problems,” Professor Dr Mahendra Nepal, former Head of Department, Psychiatry at Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj said. “You will not be interested in your work and hobbies in this case.” Political instability, lack of family support, poor nutrition, peer pressure, bullying, substance abuse such as alcohol among others are some of the reasons to blame for mental health problems. As per Dr Saroj Prasad Ojha, Professor and Head of Department, Psychiatry at Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, Maharajgunj, “Timely treatment of mental illnesses is necessary to control further complications. But many people suffering from mental health do not have an access to treatment. The stigma regarding mental health still prevails in society.” So, to increase awareness about mental health, 6th National Conference of Psychiatrists’ Association of Nepal (PANCONKTM 2017) was held on February 17-18 at Hotel Annapurna, Durbarmarg with the theme ‘Mental health Access to all.’ Fifty scientific papers about mental health from Nepal, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Maldives were presented at the two-day conference where issues such as substance use disorder, anxiety and depression in pregnancy, globalisation and mental health, schizophrenia, behavioural addictions, national mental health policy and legislation, post-traumatic stress disorder among others were discussed.