Facebook, Twitter and Skype users, be warned. New research has found a “central link” between mental health disorders and intensive computer use.

The study also suggested a correlation between stress and always being available on the phone.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg examined over 4,100 Swedish men and women between the ages of 20 and 24 for a year. The findings suggested that those who incessantly talk on their cell phones are at greater risk of experiencing sleep disturbances and signs of depression.

Intensive computer use, especially late at night, led to losing sleep and an increased risk for several mental health outcomes.  Even people who played video games online faced a greater risk of suffering from depression. The study found that daily computer gaming for one to two hours led to an increased risk for depression symptoms in women.

A psychological explanation was given for the need to always be available on the phone or online. Sara Thomee, the lead researcher, explained, “Demands for availability originated not only from work and the social network, but also from the individual’s own ambitions or desires. This resulted in disturbances when busy or resting, the feeling of never being free, and difficulties separating work and private life.”

To avert suffering from these types of mental disorders, people need to set limits on computer and cell phone use, and limit their own demands on availability, the study concludes.

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