Although inadequate sleep has been linked to problematic behaviors, such as poor impulse control and emotion dysregulation, little research interest has been the role of sleep and sleep deprivation on impulsive behaviors in young adults. To further examine the relationship of sleepiness to impulsivity and impulsive behaviors, this study was designed to collect data on sleepiness, and a range of impulse control disorders and cognitive measures.
Young non-treatment-seeking adults were recruited from two US cities and completed a screening form for sleepiness, along with demographic, clinical, and cognitive measures relevant to impulsivity. Relationships between these explanatory variables and total sleepiness scores were analyzed using partial least squares. Significant explanatory variables were identified (p < .05, bootstrap).
Higher levels of sleepiness were significantly associated with higher ADHD symptoms, gambling disorder symptoms, Internet addiction symptoms, and personality-related impulsiveness. Sleepiness was also associated with set-shifting errors, and with gambling more points (abnormal decision-making), but not with significant impairment in response to inhibition, or other aspects of decision-making.
This study confirms a cross-sectional relationship between sleepiness and a range of impulsive measures at the level of behavior (ADHD, gambling, and Internet addiction) and personality traits. Longitudinal research would be required to explore causal mechanisms and the direction of any such effects. Screening for such mental health diagnoses in people with sleep problems may be valuable, as enquiring patients with such impulsive symptoms about sleep, in order to maximize quality of life.
Although family history of psychiatric disorders has often been considered potentially useful in understanding clinical presentations in patients, it is less clear what a positive family history means for people who gamble in the general community. We sought to understand the clinical and cognitive impact of having a first-degree relative with a substance use disorder (SUD) in a sample of non-treatment seeking young adults.
576 participants (aged 18–29 years) who gambled at least five times in the preceding year undertook clinical and neurocognitive evaluations. Those with a first-degree relative with a SUD were compared to those without on a number of demographic, clinical and cognitive measures. We used Partial Least Squares (PLS) regression to identify which variables (if any) were significantly associated with family history of SUDs, controlling for the influence of other variables on each other.
180 (31.3%) participants had a first-degree family member with a SUD. In terms of clinical variables, family history of SUD was significantly associated with higher rates of substance use (alcohol, nicotine), higher rates of problem gambling, and higher occurrence of mental health disorders. Family history of SUD was also associated with more set-shifting problems (plus higher rates of obsessive-compulsive tendencies), lower quality of decision-making, and more spatial working memory errors.
These results indicate that gamblers with a first-degree family member with a SUD may have a unique clinical and cognition presentation. Understanding these differences may be relevant to developing more individualized treatment approaches for disordered gambling. Compulsivity may be important as a proxy of vulnerability towards addiction.
Problematic Internet use (PIU) is commonplace but is not yet recognized as a formal mental disorder. Excessive Internet use could result from other conditions such as gambling disorder. The aim of the study was to assess the impact of impulsive–compulsive comorbidities on the presentation of PIU, defined using Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire.
A total of 123 adults aged 18–29 years were recruited using media advertisements, and attended the research center for a detailed psychiatric assessment, including interviews, completion of questionnaires, and neuropsychological testing. Participants were classified into three groups: PIU with no comorbid impulsive/compulsive disorders (n = 18), PIU with one or more comorbid impulsive/compulsive disorders (n = 37), and healthy controls who did not have any mental health diagnoses (n = 67). Differences between the three groups were characterized in terms of demographic, clinical, and cognitive variables. Effect sizes for overall effects of group were also reported.
The three groups did not significantly differ on age, gender, levels of education, nicotine consumption, or alcohol use (small effect sizes). Quality of life was significantly impaired in PIU irrespective of whether or not individuals had comorbid impulsive/compulsive disorders (large effect size). However, impaired response inhibition and decision-making were only identified in PIU with impulsive/compulsive comorbidities (medium effect sizes).
Discussion and conclusions
Most people with PIU will have one or more other impulsive/compulsive disorders, but PIU can occur without such comorbidities and still present with impaired quality of life. Response inhibition and decision-making appear to be disproportionately impacted in the case of PIU comorbid with other impulsive/compulsive conditions, which may account for some of the inconsistencies in the existing literature. Large scale international collaborations are required to validate PIU and further assess its clinical, cognitive, and biological sequelae.
This study sought to examine the occurrence of the problematic use of smartphones in a university sample and associated physical and mental health correlates, including potential relationships with risky sexual practices.
A 156-item anonymous online survey was distributed via e-mail to a sample of 9,449 university students. In addition to problematic smartphone usage, current use of alcohol and drugs, psychological and physical status, and academic performance were assessed.
A total of 31,425 participants were included in the analysis, of whom 20.1% reported problematic smartphone use. Problematic use of smartphones was associated with lower grade point averages and with alcohol use disorder symptoms. It was also significantly associated with impulsivity (Barratt scale and ADHD) and elevated occurrence of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Finally, those with current problems with smartphone use were significantly more sexually active.
Problematic use of smartphones is common and has public health importance due to these demonstrable associations with alcohol use, certain mental health diagnoses (especially ADHD, anxiety, depression, and PTSD), and worse scholastic performance. Clinicians should enquire about excessive smartphone use as it may be associated with a range of mental health issues. Research is needed to address longitudinal associations.
Gambling disorder (GD) may have its onset in a wide range of ages, from adolescents to old adults. In addition, individuals with GD tend to seek treatment at different moments in their lives. As a result of these characteristics (variable age at onset and variable age at treatment seeking), we find subjects with diverse duration of illness (DOI) in clinical practice. DOI is an important but relatively understudied factor in GD. Our objective was to investigate clinical and neurocognitive characteristics associated with different DOI.
This study evaluated 448 adults diagnosed with GD. All assessments were completed prior to treatments being commenced.
Our main results were: (a) there is a negative correlation between DOI and lag between first gambling and onset of GD; (b) lifetime history of alcohol use disorder (AUD) is associated with a longer duration of GD; (c) the presence of a first-degree relative with history of AUD is associated with a more extended course of GD; and (d) there is a negative correlation between DOI and quality of life.
This study suggests that some important variables are associated with different DOI. Increasing treatment-seeking behavior, providing customized psychological interventions, and effectively managing AUD may decrease the high levels of chronicity in GD. Furthermore, research on GD such as phenomenological studies and clinical trials may consider the duration of GD in their methodology. DOI might be an important variable when analyzing treatment outcome and avoiding confounders.
Previous analyses have highlighted significant associations between gambling disorder (GD)/subsyndromal GD and increased rates of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders relative to the general population. However, less is known about how anxiety symptoms influence the clinical presentation of gambling problems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between anxiety symptoms, gambling activity, and neurocognition across the spectrum of gambling behavior.
The sample consisted of 143 non-treatment-seeking young adults (aged 18–29 years), in which 63 individuals (44.1%) were classified as recreational gamblers, 47 (32.9%) as having subsyndromal GD, and 33 (23.1%) met criteria for GD.
The main findings were: (a) there was a positive correlation between anxiety severity and gambling severity measured by the number of DSM-5 GD criteria met; (b) there was a positive correlation between anxiety severity and attentional impulsiveness; (c) subjects with suicidality presented higher levels of anxiety; and (d) the severity of anxiety symptoms was negatively correlated with the quality of life.
Discussion and conclusions
This study suggests that anxiety may be associated with relevant clinical variables in the broad spectrum of gambling activity. Therefore, proper management of anxiety symptoms might improve the clinical presentation of gamblers in different areas.
Gambling and gaming disorders have been included as “disorders due to addictive behaviors” in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Other problematic behaviors may be considered as “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors (6C5Y).”
Narrative review, experts' opinions.
We suggest the following meta-level criteria for considering potential addictive behaviors as fulfilling the category of “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors”:
1. Clinical relevance: Empirical evidence from multiple scientific studies demonstrates that the specific potential addictive behavior is clinically relevant and individuals experience negative consequences and functional impairments in daily life due to the problematic and potentially addictive behavior.
2. Theoretical embedding: Current theories and theoretical models belonging to the field of research on addictive behaviors describe and explain most appropriately the candidate phenomenon of a potential addictive behavior.
3. Empirical evidence: Data based on self-reports, clinical interviews, surveys, behavioral experiments, and, if available, biological investigations (neural, physiological, genetic) suggest that psychological (and neurobiological) mechanisms involved in other addictive behaviors are also valid for the candidate phenomenon. Varying degrees of support for problematic forms of pornography use, buying and shopping, and use of social networks are available. These conditions may fit the category of “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors”.
It is important not to over-pathologize everyday-life behavior while concurrently not trivializing conditions that are of clinical importance and that deserve public health considerations. The proposed meta-level-criteria may help guide both research efforts and clinical practice.