Facebook and other social networking sites may affect your mental health by causing psychotic episodes and delusions, researchers warn. As internet access becomes increasingly widespread, so do psychopathologies such as internet addiction and delusions related to the technology and to virtual relationships, according to the study.
Web-based communication systems such as Facebook and chat groups are an important part of this story, said Dr. Uri Nitzan of Tel Aviv University. According to Nitzan, patients shared some crucial characteristics, including loneliness or vulnerability due to the loss of or separation from a loved one, relative inexperience with technology, and no prior history of psychosis or substance abuse.
In each case, a connection was found between the gradual development and exacerbation of psychotic symptoms, including delusions, anxiety, confusion, and intensified use of computer communications.
The good news is that all of the patients who sought out treatment on their own were able to make a full recovery with proper treatment care, Nitzan said. All three of his patients sought refuge from loneliness and found solace in intense virtual relationships.
Though the relationships were positive at first, they later led to feelings of hurt, betrayal, and invasion of privacy, said Nitzan.
"All three patients developed psychotic symptoms related to the situation, including delusions regarding the person behind the screen and their connection through the computer," he said.