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Mobile phone depression

A crutch to help improve your mood?

Nearly one third of smartphone users have confessed to feeling "addicted" to their devices. The average user checks their handset 150 times a day, and new studies show that this could be an unconscious sign that depression isn't far away.

Research undertaken by Baylor University shows those who constantly check their phones could be doing so in order to combat a negative mood. They also unveiled a link between the users personality and the level of phone addiction, finding a clear correlation between emotional instability and phone usage.

The research also threw up an unexpected finding - users tied to their smartphones all day do not necessarily have introverted personalities.

Addiction "rewires the brain"

"Much like a variety of substance addictions, cell phone addiction may be an attempt at mood repair," the study's authors wrote. "Incessant checking of emails, sending texts, tweeting, and surfing the web may act as pacifiers for the unstable individual distracting him or herself from the worries of the day and providing solace, albeit temporarily, from such concerns."

When such addictive behaviors rewire the brain, the challenge is to erase these patterns of behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can “increase awareness of cues that trigger craving and teach skills that enable new patterns of thinking and acting.” This is in lieu of therapeutic drug treatments that are able to mask the brain’s addictive desires but are not usually effective at establishing new patterns in the brain.

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The brain is a communications center consisting of billions of neurons, or nerve cells. Networks of neurons pass messages back and forth among different structures within the brain, the spinal cord, and nerves in the rest of the body (the peripheral nervous system). These nerve networks coordinate and regulate everything we feel, think, and do.

Sociologists have also warned that the popularity of e-mailing, text messaging and playing games on mobile phones is affecting other important activities such as recreational reading and studying. A third of those aged between 16 and 20 prefer text messaging to all other means of written communication, according to a survey last year by Mori for Vodafone.