Video Game Addiction: Now Considered a Real Disease according to WHO

Whether it’s FIFA 20 or FORTNITE, you sit down turn it on and the hours start to go by. What was once a way to blow off steam and relax has transitioned into a pattern of behavior that’s downright addictive.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Gaming disorder was recently classified as a mental health disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

According to the WHO, to be diagnosed, the behavior must be severe enough to cause “significant detriment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other necessary aspects of functioning.

The disorder is extremely rare.

The disorder isn’t sudden, but rather is considered as a diagnosis when the negative behavior lasts for about a year and takes over the player’s entire life— often to the impairment of a healthy diet and physical fitness.

If players are not participating in other important behaviours, such as going to work, school or doing homework, then it’s starting to become a problem.

Why does gaming become addictive?
The addiction involved with video games isn’t the same as with alcohol or drug use.

Gambling and gaming addictions have more of the same characteristics, the reward isn’t constant and is very unpredictable. This keeps players actively seeking the good feeling that’s produced in the brain when they reach a new goal or successfully complete an objective.

Video game developers understand a great deal about what’s called “schedules of reinforcement.” Many games, especially massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), are designed to make players repeat behaviors in the quest of that gaming high. With virtual societies, money to earn and even spouses to be had, the draw to stay connected can become irresistible.

So who is at risk?
People who are prone to other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, may rely on gaming to produce changes in brain chemistry that make them feel good temporarily.

Those at highest risk are adolescents and young adults, who may have greater difficulty judging the negative effects of gaming behavior.

Just as with gambling disorders, gaming disorder can still occur at nearly any age.

What aid can you get?
Putting some limits in place, for some people. In others, complete abstinence from gaming, might be required to treat addiction.

Parents may need to help their children set strict time limits adherence for gaming activities. But if video games are seriously impairing a person’s life, it may be best for them to cut out gaming altogether.
Like other compulsive or addictive behaviors, it’s often hard for individuals who’ve had problems with a specific behavior to develop greater control over it.

Proactively addressing the symptoms of gaming addiction may help individuals find their way to mental health providers who can offer accurate assistance for underlying or co-occurring conditions.

Mental health professionals will soon come to view other behaviors, such as excess use of social media, to be problematic as well.


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