Insomnia, addiction, depression: the dark side of life, trading crypto Business

When Joanna Garzili was in Venice, California, for a holiday party in 2017, dancers in bikinis were on stilts, drinks were flowing, and there was talk of one thing: cryptocurrency. It seemed so sexy, she remembered what she was thinking. Enticed by the glamorous crowd, she later invested and charged: a $ 85,000 profit from a crypto-coin called GRT that made dreams of living at the Ritz-Carlton Residences come true.

But soon her deals became ill-considered, she said. Garzili put 90 percent of her savings on a coin that lost tens of thousands in a matter of days. She made risky investments in viral currency memes and constantly checked her trading apps to see how much money she earned or lost. Her nights became sleepless, but Garzili continued to chase after the next big payday.

“The crypt is like getting to Hades,” she said. “The crypt can reveal the darkest parts of ourselves if we are addicted; and I have a very exciting personality. ”

As the cryptocurrency boom has joined the ranks of ordinary investors chasing life in mansions and yachts, mental health experts say it is causing an increase in addiction. Jumps and falling prices provide a level of excitement that is hard to replicate with the most volatile stocks and bonds. The very unstable nature of cryptocurrency can instantly reduce profits to zero, leaving investors with mountains of debt, broken relationships and suicidal thoughts, according to drug experts.

Therapists such as Aaron Sternlicht of New York say they see an influx of people seeking help from cryptocurrency, although treatment is only available to a few privileged individuals.

“Many people will not receive the treatment they need,” he said.

Over the past decade, cryptocurrency has grown from astonishing to a major part of financial markets and mass culture, its market value rising sharply from $ 5.4 billion to $ 1.8 trillion, according to Coin Market Cap, a site that tracks cryptocurrency statistics. Meanwhile, celebrity recommendations create a lavish billboard for a lifestyle that cryptocurrency can provide.

In recent months Matt Damon has been promoting, an application that can help you trade cryptocurrency. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen advertise the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Influencers on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter showcase a life filled with first-class flights and luxurious rooftop pools, meaning the crypt is the best way to make it rich.

According to scientists involved in addiction, cryptocurrency has characteristics that make it more prone to addiction than betting on sports, gambling and traditional financial investments. Crypto can be traded around the clock, unlike most stocks. People don’t need to go to a casino to invest in coins. Crypto price volatility, especially in alternative currencies such as coin memes, can be quick and provide the brain with a quick sense of reward. And given the decentralized nature of the crypt, it may be easier to hide the financial implications of dependency.

Leah Nouer, director of gambling research at Rutgers University, said sleek investment applications are contributing to growing addiction. Thanks to colorful real-time charts, trading programs such as Robinhood make buying cryptocurrencies similar to a video game.

“They know what it’s like to make people more passionate about something – this high action, this rapid change with this positive award,” she said. “That’s why people like lottery tickets because they can frantically scratch and they get rewarded in that second and it gives you a dopamine explosion. These people are doing the same thing. ”

Although research is still evolving, several recent studies document the link between cryptocurrency trading and dependency. In April, a group of Finnish researchers found that cryptocurrency traders also have a high level of dependence on gambling, video games and internet addiction. They found that crypto traders, who were most often immigrants, also experienced higher levels of psychological frustration and loneliness compared to stock traders.

Ashwin Manica, a representative of Robinhood, strongly disagreed with the fact that the application plays some role in cryptocurrency.

“We believe that such accusations are an elitist attack on ordinary people, who for the first time have the opportunity to participate in stock markets and cryptocurrencies with the help of intuitively designed financial products,” he said in a statement. “We have not yet seen any solid evidence to support these anecdotal allegations, and the data paints a different picture.”

Sternlicht and his wife Lynn, a team of husband and wife therapists in New York who treat cryptocurrency addiction, said they have seen an approximately 40 percent increase in the number of people from around the world calling to get their cryptocurrency treatment services. Their services cost $ 2,500 for counseling and $ 25,000 for a 45-day treatment plan that is more intensive than traditional forms of conversational therapy. To treat addiction, they meet with family members, have access to bank accounts and meet with patients several times a week.

Most of their clients seek help when they exceed six-figure debts, have ruined their relationship, are experiencing significant bouts of depression and have other addictions, especially to alcohol, cocaine and Adderall. Aaron Sternlicht added that people who come to their practice usually have significant wealth, but for those who do not have large funds, seeking treatment can be difficult.

Sternlicht said the American Psychological Association did not classify cryptocurrency addiction as gambling addiction, creating a gray area that allows many insurance companies to refuse to cover cryptocurrency addiction therapy.

“There is not enough research to really diagnose,” he said.

Despite this, Nover said, people suffering from cryptocurrency do not need to seek specially designed services and they can get treatment from a gambling addiction counselor. “What you’re really addicted to is risk,” she said. “Anyone who treats gambling well can treat crypto addiction.”

Drew Wax, a 30-year-old cryptocurrency investor who lives near northern Virginia, became interested in investing in cryptocurrency around 2017 when he started investing in Ethereum. From there, he became interested in cryptocurrency mining, using his credit cards to buy the necessary equipment. “I spent all the money I had on buying cryptocurrencies and setting up a cryptocurrency mining facility,” he said. “I was addicted. I was obsessed. “

In a few moments he turned an investment of $ 1,000 into $ 100,000, just to see the profits evaporate. When swings happen, the consequences are significant. “I’m waking up, I’m depressed,” he said. “I say,‘ Wow, I can’t believe this. Like, it’s just not there.

And for the 49-year-old Garzili, living with a cryptocurrency addiction is a daily battle. When a new investment opportunity appears on her radar, the desire to invest and chase the maximum of the next salary becomes strong. So is the fear of missing out. “It’s like pulling in your stomach,” she said. “It’s like my whole body reaches out to ‘Go do it.’ Go trade. “

To manage, Garzili enrolled in a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. She forces herself to disconnect from the screen during the day. She walks, meditates and rides in a car when the desire to invest in a coin becomes too great. She is currently investing in less risky cryptocurrencies and she is telling herself that she needs to build her portfolio with a view to retirement.

Although Garzili said the government is demanding action to deter fraudsters who prey on cryptocurrency investors and curtail projects that don’t matter.

“People will still be killed,” she said. “Until we have tighter regulation.”

Pranshu Verma is a reporter for The Washington Post’s technology team. Before embarking on The Post in 2022, he covered technology at the Boston Globe. Prior to that, he was a report officer for the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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