Are You a Facebook Addict?

Psychologists are now probing a new kind of addiction called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD). Psychologist Dr. Michael Fenichel, who has published numerous essays on FAD online, describes it as a situation in which Facebook usage “overtakes” daily activities like waking up, getting dressed, using the telephone, or checking e-mail.

“The amazing thing is that, like cell phones, nobody seems to notice the vast amount of time and energy—at work, at home, and now while on the move—people are devoting to Facebook. It has become a given,” Fenichel writes in an online post titled “Facebook Addiction Disorder—A New Challenge?”

FAD could be classified under the broader “Internet addiction disorder” or Internet overuse.

Academic papers have already posed theories on Internet addiction and social networking addiction, in addition to cell phone addiction.

“Like most activities, moderation and integration are key. Those that may seriously label and treat FAD as a behavioral addiction will clearly need to use context in determining if a behavior has become demonstrably harmful to overall social, work, or face-to-face interpersonal efficacy,” Fenichel added.

Joanna Lipari, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told CNN about several signs of addiction to Facebook:

1. You stay up late at night on Facebook (rather than sleeping), causing you to be tired the next day.

2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook. Lipari said it is difficult to define how much is too much when it comes to Facebook usage, but that an average person should only spend about half an hour on the site.

3. You become obsessed with old loves or exes you’ve reconnected with on Facebook.

4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook.

5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in cold sweat. If you try going a day without Facebook and it causes you stress and anxiety, this means you need help.

According to the same report by Elizabeth Cohen, Senior CNN Medical Correspondent, Facebook addiction is not yet an actual medical diagnosis. However, the report notes that several therapists in the United States have noticed a rise in the number of clients who get hooked on social networking to the point of social dysfunction.