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Texting Can Be An Addiction, But A Mental Illness? Texting Restraint Especially Challenging For ADHD

and lots of texting
Creative Commons License photo credit: HollyWata

I am having a really tough time with texting. I find it so easy, and when I get emotional, even more so.  Right off that bat I want to apologize to anyone / everyone I text to as I know while you may love many of my bright, funny texts, it has also been an easy escape for me to not deal with some tougher issues.

You would never really think of texting as an addiction, but it is.  At least I think it is.  I just did a search online and can see it is a highly debated subject, and a lot of people have a lot of different opinions.  Some even say it’s a mental illness, which I find a little harder to understand.  So let’s backtrack and review standard definitions of both mental illness and addiction.

According to The Farlex free online dictionary (slight variations among dictionaries):

mental illness:


Any of various conditions characterized by impairment of an individual’s normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic, or other factors, such as infection or head trauma. Also called emotional illness, mental disease, mental disorder.
ad·dic·tion // <![CDATA[
// (-dkshn)



a. Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
b. An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.


a. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.
b. An instance of this: had an addiction for fast cars.

OK.  Really?  Fast cars as a mental illness?  Religion as a mental illness?  You get ‘chemical brain highs’ from a variety of things – just because that happens, does it mean it is an addiction or mental ‘illness’?  Not to mention illness gives off such a negative connotation (do we have a heart illness?).  It sounds weak and soft, when in fact brain issues are quite serious, medical, and biological and should be treated as such.

Back to my point; texting. For me, the differentiating factor of addiction is when it interrupts your daily life and creates negative consequences for you and others.  That is really the significant factor.  Negative consequences.

I am pretty clear that for me, texting is an addiction.  I use it as a way to communicate negative feelings when I am upset – which generally just makes everything worse.  I am also impulsive and my mind works very, very quickly.  So I might have solved a problem ten minutes ago, but come up with a new solution 10 minutes later.  When I communicate this to others (whose brains maybe aren’t on such warp speed) I am confusing, inconsistent, and perceived ‘crazy.’  After reviewing some recent texts I can see why (but really, it all made sense to me at the time and I had a different tone!).

No excuses, though.  The problem I have is that texting is so EASY and so right there.  But once again I have created problems in my life because of it, so I am vowing to stop.  I talked to my brilliant friend Raquel and she had some rather creative suggestions:

  • Take up knitting (you will care more about finishing the sock for your new niece first!)
  • Get an old phone (she suggested that I try to get a refund as well for the phone I have, since I am technically ‘downgrading.’  Good advice but I wonder if they even make phones without text messaging?
  • Pick up the phone (even though part of me likes the writing aspect of it, it gets things on paper so I can remember!)

Do any of you have helpful solutions on giving up texting?  Thoughts on if it’s a mental illness / addiction?  Please share!

PS:  I guess the moral is, for those of you that deal with the impulsivity of ADHD / ADD  – I would steer clear of texting.  Better to build relationships in person, and take that extra few minutes to see how they are doing, even if it just takes a few minutes.
Texting Can Be An Addiction, But A Mental Illness? Texting Restraint Especially Challenging For ADHD

Kathryn Goetzke

I own a company called the Mood-factory (, a company that creates products based on how sensory experiences effect moods. I also run a nonprofit for depressio, iFred (, we are working to change the brand of depression. And yes, I have ADHD, along with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and a host of other challenges, opportunities, and gifts.

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APA Reference
Goetzke, K. (2010). Texting Can Be An Addiction, But A Mental Illness? Texting Restraint Especially Challenging For ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Apr 2010
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