Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 584-585  

Internet phobia: A case report

Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication9-Nov-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Soumitra Das
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_460_17

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How to cite this article:
Bagewadi VI, Das S. Internet phobia: A case report. Indian J Psychol Med 2018;40:584-5

How to cite this URL:
Bagewadi VI, Das S. Internet phobia: A case report. Indian J Psychol Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 May 24];40:584-5. Available from:


We are gradually becoming dependent on internet. From morning to evening, we have only one loyal friend which is Google. Whatever you want, Google has the answer. As internet has pierced every moment of our life, the fear of getting troubled by cybercriminals is real. Often, privacy of well-protected firm or individual get breached. Hence, the fear related to it is similar to phobia where “someone has marked fear, anxiety or avoidance of specific object or situation.” Phobia is an anxiety disorder which causes significant disability in person's life leading to avoidance of important situation or activities.[1],[2] Here, we present a case who had extreme avoidance and related dysfunction due to fear of getting broken of her privacy.

A 54-year-old homemaker, with nil previous history, presented with significant distress and fear about her safety due to interference to her privacy due to leakage through internet and internet gadgets for the past 1 year and increased for the past 6 months. She claimed that her bank accounts and e-mails including her browsing history of YouTube were known to others. But on clarification, she is not convinced, neither able to ignore the fact that her privacy being safe. Due to which, she started avoiding watching television, using e-mails, drawing money from internet banking, and asked for help from other family members. She feels at time restless, anxious, and terrified. She says that these are her own thoughts although she does not want this kind of discomfort but validates its rationality. She also cites examples of various hacking activities going on around her and she is concerned about her privacy. Owing to this, she has significant dysfunctions such as missing important e-mails, avoiding online shopping such as Amazon or Flipkart, and not enjoying the YouTube videos what she enjoyed the most. There was no distressing incident as a precipitating factor which she also acknowledged that nothing happened till now, but she is excessively worried about anticipation of misshapen.

We diagnosed her as phobic anxiety disorder named as “internet phobia” and started on systematic desensitization therapy. The patient showed gradual improvement while on therapy and later took referral in her own place.

Although computed security needs to be taken seriously, it might become excessive for some people leading to avoidance of computer. It is not uncommon that personal privacy is often attacked by hackers but anxiety related to it coloring all domains of life is surely not natural. In the present era, where we are dependent on internet shopping, bill payments, and internet banking, it is extremely difficult to avoid it in any level. Even, some activities only happen through internet which makes it more difficult for an individual to avoid internet. In our case, we ruled out delusional disorder as it was not false or fixed. We also ruled out obsessive–compulsive disorder as the patient did not think it as irrational but validates it as excessive.[3]

Although we have seen cases experiences about a similar phenomenon, we are just explaining a case in detail to understand common phenomenology emerging due to the current trend in social media. We believe that phenomenon like internet phobia is something similar to agoraphobia/claustrophobia which needs further identification and specific management. It might warrant a specifically structured therapy or intervention.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Craske MG, Stein MB. Anxiety. Lancet 2016;388:3048-59. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 23].  Back to cited text no. 1
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association Publishing 1000 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22209-3901 USA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. Available from: 9780890425596. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 23].  Back to cited text no. 2
Craske MG, Rauch SL, Ursano R, Prenoveau J, Pine DS, Zinbarg RE. What is an anxiety disorder? Depress Anxiety 2009;26:1066-85. Available from: [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 23].  Back to cited text no. 3


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