This month’s hot-off-the-press issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry claims that internet addiction - mentioning "excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging" - is becoming an increasingly commonplace compulsive-impulsive disorder. It says it "should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders".

Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, claims that the disorder should be "included in the [next edition of] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry's official dictionary of mental illnesses".

Neglecting basic drives

The next edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is due out in 2012, but a draft edition of this is planned to be available to the public at some point in 2009.

Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives" such as eating or sleeping. Some may need psychoactive medications or hospitalisation to combat their over-reliance on the internet.

Notably, Dr. Block says that about 86 per cent of ‘internet addicts’ also have some other form of mental illness.