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Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

We Help Folks With Mental Health Conditons and Screen Dependence

Internet Addiction with Co-occurring Disorders is a very clinical way to talk about what we treat at reSTART. Being less clinical, we can just say that most of the folks who come to reSTART have more than one problem. Yes, their lives have fallen apart because of their gaming and other Internet activities, but when they come to reSTART most of them are depressed, anxious, and many have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of them show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And many have physical problems such as severe sleep deprivation, under weight or over weight, and physcially deconditioned.

Our philosophy of care is to take a holistic view of each individual and address the whole person. The difficulties that our clients have are usually social, physical and psychological.

For those with a Video Game Addiction, Physical Health is Foundational

If you’re sleep deprived, sedentary (yet highly aroused), eating an impoverished diet and not taking care of your self-care needs like brushing your teeth, your health will quickly deteriorate. If this has been going on for years, you’re likely to be in bad physical health. You may find that you can’t sleep even when you try; you’re severely underweight or overweight; your body is not physically fit; and your teeth may be rotting. There are some gamers who have lost control to such an extent, gaming nonstop for 40 plus hours at a time, that they collapse dead at their computers from throwing a blood clot or from organ failure. If you’re someone whose absorption in digital media has caused you to lose appetite (or, not pay attention to hunger), you could end up like one of our clients who arrived at reSTART weighing 115 lbs. He was 6’2”. Another client was so chronically sleep deprived that he had waking hallucinations. Another had to have caps put on all his teeth.

So, one of the first things we address are these physical health needs. Regular sleep, healthy diet, lots of physical exercise, all in an environment that is screen free and stress free, go a long way toward restoring a sense of physical and emotional well-being. Our Naturopathic physician checks vitamin and mineral levels, blood sugar, and other components of health. She has consistently found low Vit D levels, and she has been successful in helping a number of clients reverse their pre-diabetic condition.

Without Mental Health We Cannot Attain Our Full Potential for Happiness

Along with the physical problems that our clients typically have, there are mental health problems beyond their compulsive Internet use. The vast majority of our client arrive depressed (sometimes suicidal) and anxious. Many come with a prior diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). About a third show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We’ve come to anticipate that some of these diagnoses will change over the course of their stay with us. Most of those who are depressed report not feeling depressed after the first month or so. This is because they are detoxed from screens, their physical health is being restored, and they are connecting to others. Those with ADHD may find that they really don’t need medication, or can reduce it, for the same reasons. Symptoms of anxiety and ASD often reduce, as well.

Self-esteem is built on, among other things, a sense of competency. As our clients gain mastery over the many simple things that they must do (like caring for the animals, learning to cook, caring for their physical living environment) they begin to feel better and better about themselves, which, of course,

contributes to a sense of wellbeing reversing the depression and anxiety they were experiencing before coming to reSTART. As they advance in the program, going into the Open World transition program and, perhaps, beyond that into Sustainability, their competencies accrue. They learn time management so they can get up in time for their paying jobs. They learn to be good, responsible employees. They learn to function as independent adults and, wow, does that ever feel good!

We All Need Real-life Social Connection, Face-to-face

Another component of self-esteem and well-being is being able to connect socially in a positive way. Many of our clients, from spending too much of their childhoods in front of screens, have either never developed good social skills or have lost confidence in their skills. They have friends online, in gaming communities, but those communication skills are often not pro-social and, even if pro-social, they may not translate into face-to-face social competence.

A beautiful thing happens at reSTART. In safe and intimate spaces, first at the Ranch and later at Heavensfield and Open World, our clients learn the skills of friendship-making. And their friendships are not the usual male-bonding friendships just covering gaming, sports and other external things. Instead, our clients learn to be honest and vulnerable with each other. They develop a capacity for real intimacy, a deep level of friendship that is unusual in our culture. This lays the foundation for the future, both in building friendships with men and women, but also in developing healthy, romantic relationships.

Treatment for Screen Addictions like Internet Video Game Addiction  Improves Health and Happiness

Long-term happiness and well-being are built on developing health in the realms of the physical, the mental, and the social. reSTART understands this. By providing the ingredients necessary to build health in all of these realms, our clients are able to grow and flourish in the rich environment we offer.

reSTART your life.

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Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

What is intimacy?

People have different ideas about the word “intimacy”. For many, it’s a code word for sex. We at reSTART do not think of it this way. We subscribe to the ideas put forth by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Dr. Brene Brown and Dr. Patrick Carnes. The Gottmans, through their 40+ years of research, say that intimacy is: “. . . the feeling that grows out of knowing another person’s past, present, and future in great detail (“love maps”) and they know the same about you. Intimacy requires the development of respect and admiration.”Dr. Brown talks about the sense of intimacy and trust that grows out of allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person, risking and “daring greatly” to be known. And Dr. Carnes talks about how, over time, two people come to know one another in an increasingly open way that develops trust. In the context of romance, he calls this “courtship”.

Friends With Benefits?

These ideas clearly overlap and get at the notion that intimacy is not sex. It really is the development, over time, of an open, honest, trusting relationship. This sounds like friendship, doesn’t it? And, indeed, it is that. In their study of satisfying, long-term relationships they found that the core of success was friendship, characterized by trust, respect, love and admiration. Between romantic partners there will be sex, of course, added into the mix.

Distorted Reality

The clients who come to reSTART have, for the majority, little notion of healthy intimacy. They have spent their growing up years playing video games, watching porn, and whatever other online activities they found interesting. The content of video games and porn was largely what informed their ideas about relationships. The more time they spent online and how early its overuse began influenced the ways their minds came to bewired.It is safe to say that most of our clients come to us with an intimacy disorder. They rarely know how to build and maintain close, intimate relationships, face to face,either with those they would like as friends, or those they would like as romantic partners.

Not Always As It Seems

Gamers often believe that their online friendships count as intimate, and, it is true that they may feel close to those they game with and talk to in their online communities. Sometimes these online relationships are mutual and sometimes gamers meet these friends in person and deepen their friendships or romantic relationships. But, here’s the thing, however close you feel to someone you only know online, the reality is that you have no way of truly knowing who they are. You may feel trust in this person and then have the trust betrayed either by them disappearing one day (a common occurrence) or meeting them one day in person and they are different from the person they presented to you online. We know, for example, of a 22 year-old man who had been having a romantic relationship for 10 years with an older man, pretending to be a grown woman when he was just 12+ years old. At 22 he was committed to never meeting this man, as he didn’t ever want to be discovered for whom he really was.

Shifting the Intimacy Paradigm

So, in conclusion, the online lives of our clients have, for the most part, not allowed them to develop the skills of intimacy-building. Their intimacy disorder can change within the safe, close environment of our program where they learn how to risk being vulnerable with one another. The change takes time, but many of them find that the investment in this growth is worth it. They, like all of us, need and want intimate relationships. As they discover a path toward it, their hopes for the future develop.