Psychiatrist: U.S. is suffering from epidemic of debilitating ‘digital addictions’

Too much screen time is triggering dopamine overload, she argues
A line of iPhones
A line of iPhones
(Drew Angerer/Getty)

A U.S. psychiatrist is arguing that the country is suffering from a debilitating addiction to digital devices, one that is causing high levels of depression and anxiety in otherwise healthy people.

Anna Lembke argued in the Wall Street Journal this week that over the course of her career she has observed “more and more patients who suffer from depression and anxiety, including otherwise healthy young people with loving families, elite education and relative wealth.” 

“Their problem isn’t trauma, social dislocation or poverty,” she said. “It’s too much dopamine, a chemical produced in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter, associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.”

That overload, she claims, is coming from a fixation on digital screens, including smartphones and video games. 

“[J]ust about all of us have a digital drug of choice, and it probably involves using a smartphone,” she said, arguing that reducing screentime will lead to “a healthier dopamine balance” in the brain.