Long-lasting, adverse health conditions linked to cell phone addiction, doctors say

Depression, anxiety and insomnia doctors say all linked to cell phone addiction (Credit:Robert Catanese)

The effects our smartphones and tablets are having on our bodies is an increasing concern for doctors.

SouthCoast Health's Dr. Victor Rosenfeld is a neurologist and is speaking out over what he calls "cell phone addiction."

"This is turning into, probably, an epidemic in terms of its addiction," said Rosenfeld.

Doctors say that addiction lies in the palms of our hands everyday.

"Every time that you get an alert or ping on your phone, that creates a surge of dopamine in your brain," he said.

Dr. Rosenfeld says dopamine is a powerful chemical released by the body often associated with the reward system of the brain.

"Dopamine is the same chemical that's released with highly addictive substances like cocaine," he said.

He said cell phone and tablet use of more than five hours a day can be hazardous to your health, and he goes on to say children and teens are at greater risk of depression and anxiety with excessive cell phone use with lasting effects.

"They have shown significant decreases in productivity, in social skills and ability to perform in the work force because their lack of socialization," he said.

And for those out there who check their phone before bedtime, you may want to think twice.

"The blue light that comes from a cell phone or a tablet actually is like the noon day sun in its ability to suppress melatonin, so that's going to suppress and confuse your sleep signals and interfere with your sleep significantly," he said.

Are you a Nobophobiac?

Nomophobia, the fear of not having your mobile phone, strikes 46 percent of Americans, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Teenagers, in particular, seem to be very affected. Doctors say, there is a widespread depression epidemic in this age group, greater than has ever been reported in history, and it is linked to excessive smartphone use.

Here are just a few of the verified effects that a phone addiction can have on your brain:

  • Lessens your ability to concentrate
  • Makes you more easily distracted
  • Higher chance of having anxiety, depression, impulsivity and insomnia
  • Less desire to interact with other humans, increasing levels of social anxiety
  • Risks damaging relationships between friends and family members

Some easy steps to take to limit your overuse of smartphones and reduce adverse health conditions include:

  • Turn off your phone during certain times of the day
  • Don’t bring your phone to your bed, the blue light emitted from phones is harmful to your sleeping patterns.
  • Leave your phone charging on the floor of the bedroom or in another room while you sleep.
  • Make sure not to look at your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime so you can fall asleep more naturally
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