The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized video game addiction as a mental disorder. Acknowledging the extent of hazards and effects the condition can cause to an individual, the WHO recently listed the condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for the first time.
According to the Classification, gaming disorder can be defined as a persistent or recurrent pattern of gaming behavior severe enough to take “precedence over other life interests and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” Hence, any person experiencing significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of function due to his/her cravings to play video games would be diagnosed with a gaming disorder. Also, he/she must have lived with the symptoms for at least one year, said the WHO.
So far, due to lack of specified guidelines and rules, experts and medical practitioners were unable to provide any proper treatment to teenagers and young adults battling an addiction to gaming. Also, as the condition was unrecognized, people hesitated in seeking help. There were many who were unaware of the underlying disorder and presumed the condition to be a fetish or obsession. However, with the recent inclusion in the ICD, people experiencing symptoms of gaming disorder can seek professional treatment to recover from the condition.
Studies show similarity in symptoms of game addiction and substance abuse
Earlier, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) had recognized the obsession with video games and online gambling as Internet Gaming Disorder. However, it had placed the disorder in Section III, warranting further clinical examination before it could be included as a formal disorder. Succeeding the placement, many studies drew similarities between game addiction and substance use disorder (SUD), thus, supporting the inclusion of the condition in the ICD.
Amidst, one of the studies suggested that any person suffering from gaming disorder tend to exhibit symptoms similar to that of substance abuse, including compulsive urges and inability to control use. This further led to distress and functional impairment in five domains, namely, academic, social, occupational, developmental and behavioral.
Another study found that people suffering from gaming disorder exhibit cravings and over-engagement, despite negative consequences, similar to those experienced by people battling alcohol abuse disorder. These similarities could be seen in visual and auditory simulation, chemical intoxication and prevalence age.
Taking a cue from such past studies and adding them to the recent reviews of available evidence, the WHO specified that not everybody who indulged in gaming or binge gaming could be diagnosed with gaming disorder. Only people spending excessive time on gaming activities, “particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities” so much so that it can change their physical or psychological health and social functioning can they be considered as patients of gaming disorder.
Recovery from game addiction is possible
The categorization of gaming disorder as a mental disorder will help divert increased attention to the risks of development of this mental disorder and accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures. An individual experiencing the symptoms of the condition can seek help from the nearest mental health treatment center.
If you are looking for residential mental health treatment for either yourself or your loved one who may be exhibiting symptoms similar to that of gaming disorder, contact the Sovereign Health. Our personalized plans offered at state-of-the-art residential mental health treatment centers can help you recover fully from the condition. Call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know more about our services and programs.