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Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2014 Sep;23(3):301-10. doi: 10.1017/S2045796013000437. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Internet addiction and psychopathology in a community before and during an economic crisis.

Author information

Hellenic Association for the Study of Internet Addiction Disorder,Larissa,Greece.
Institute of Psychosocial Development (IPSA),Larissa,Greece.



Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a novel concept under scrutiny for a definite inclusion in the psychiatric taxonomy, after showing correlations with overt expressions of psychopathology. This study aims to assist the scientific dialogue concerning IAD while presenting comparative data on adolescent psychopathology before and during a major economic crisis that has affected Greece from 2010 onwards.


This is a cross-sectional study of a high school student population, aged 12-18, on IAD which follows-up a 2006 survey, and is carried out 5 years later at the same school classes. A comparison on psychopathological symptoms between the two samples is carried out to confirm any underlying correlations with IAD while providing some first insight on any effects of the economic crisis on adolescent psyche.


Results indicate that Internet addiction is increased in this population paralleling the increase in Internet availability at home. Adolescents affected with IAD present with more psychopathological symptoms. A comparison between the 2006 and 2011 samples reveals lower rates of general psychopathology but similar burden of reported symptoms.


Those findings are discussed in the framework of adolescent coping to adversity, individual reactions to major crises, as well as the general debate regarding the value of IAD as a distinct diagnosis. The effects of the economic crisis may have triggered an adaptive response in the adolescent population although IAD as a distinct nosological entity is clearly linked to more symptoms of overt psychopathology. Directions are offered for further research in countries affected by crises.


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