Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) can lead to addiction and psychosis, says a new study, citing an example of a 31 year old woman who believed she was receiving coded messages from celebrities on the micro-blogging site.

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Addiction to Twitter’s messaging application

The study, titled Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?” and released by The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, followed the plight of a 31-year old German woman, “Mrs C,” who became so addicted to Twitter that she couldn’t escape from the messaging application.

At times Mrs. C would spend several hours a day reading and writing messages on Twitter, neglecting her social relationships and even meals and regular sleeping hours, the study pointed out.

But even more troubling were apparently controlling coded messages she was receiving.

The progression to Twitter addiction started to manifest itself when the patient told doctors that she believed a famous actor was sending her secret coded messages.  She then began seeing these secret messages from all over Twitter.

“During the next couple of weeks, Mrs. C increasingly felt that the messages of other users were ?meant in a symbolic way.’’ The study indicated she was given “tasks” she believed she had to execute in a certain fashion, the paper explained. “After approximately two months, she started to discover the same symbols in her real-world environment. She then began to feel that there “must be some organization behind these tasks’ and started to suspect a sect, pointing to the development of systematized paranoid delusion.”

Twitter addict never exhibited signs of a psychosis prior to her mental breakdown

Prior to her mental breakdown, Mrs. C never exhibited signs of a psychosis or other forms of personality disorder, the report noted.  She was admitted to a hospital where she eventually recovered from her psychosis, according to the report.

After her recovery she showed no interest in Twitter whatsoever.

The report authors speculate that the limitation of 140 characters per message can be interpreted to have symbolic meaning.

The report researchers thesis is that social media can operate as trigger for displaying symptoms of mental illness. At the same time social media platforms are increasingly seen as useful tools for mental health professionals. People who suffer from certain psychiatric conditions can find various support groups on Twitter, and the micro-blogging site has been used as a platform to uncover various acts of government corruption and wrongdoing.