WHO to declare video game addiction a mental disorder?

WHO to declare video game addiction a mental disorder?

The speculation of labeling playing video game as a mental disorder has been rife since long and the World Health Organization (WHO) is all set to take action. The 11th update of WHO’s International Classification of Diseases has defined gaming disorder as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the Internet) or offline.” The indications of this disorder are:

  • Weakened control over the ability to quit playing, decreasing frequency or intensity
  • Prioritizing gaming over everything else
  • Continued indulgence despite the negative outcomes on everyday life

With video game disorder being labeled as a mental illness, it is expected that insurance companies might also start covering it in their health plans.

Video gaming akin to substance abuse

According to Jeff Reiland, a child and family therapist at Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin, playing video games affects the brain in a fashion similar to that of alcohol and drugs. People addicted to video games might lie about their behavior or hide it. Further, they “might forsake things they have to do,” just as those with substance abuse do.

He also said that when the young generation engages virtually with video games, their brains gets short-circuited, compromising their ability to cope with real-life situations. Eventually, the gaming gets hard-wired into their brains. In such cases, if somebody takes away the video game, without any prior notice, the dependent individual might experience a meltdown.

An addiction to video games can affect a person’s life in many ways. It can ruin relationships, careers and even finances. However, with strict resolve, one can overcome this addiction. Listed below are some helpful ways, following which, one can manage his or her addiction to video games:

  • The preliminary step to combat video game addiction is to accept that one has a problem. Living in denial can never help and might only worsen the situation.
  • It is important not go cold turkey as that might lead to a relapse. One should, however, try to decrease the number of hours devoted to playing games, gradually.
  • One of the ways to combat video game addiction is to spend time with real people. Spending time with loved ones, family members, workmates, etc. is much healthier than being constantly in the virtual world.
  • One must also try to eliminate the number of systems on which one plays video games. Having multiple consoles, handheld and others, might fuel the addiction; hence, only a single system should be available to limit game-time.
  • One must try to take a few breaks between games. This would help reduce screen time and also encourage one to interact with others.
  • It is helpful to inculcate other hobbies, like walking, cooking, pottery, etc., as that might help one to reduce the number of hours spent in playing video games.

If none of the self-help tips helps, then an individual should consider seeking professional help.

Dealing with video game addiction

Like addiction to alcohol or any other substance, a dependence on video games can reach a level where it might interfere with an individual’s life. Playing video games is increasingly being associated with the risk of developing other mental disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). On quitting, one might also experience serious withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, in case of chronic addiction, it is best to enlist expert support.

If you or your loved one is suffering from a mental disorder like depression, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to get information about the best depression help centers offering evidence-based intervention plans. Call our 24/7 depression helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our trained representative for more information about the finest treatment centers for depression.