World Health Organization declares video game addiction a ‘mental disorder’

Playing video games compulsively now qualifies as new mental health problem

Playing video games compulsively now qualifies as new mental health problem

The world health organization (WHO) has included in the new, 11th version of the worldwide classification of diseases (ICD-11) gambling.

Researchers across the world use it as reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions. The hallmark of the disorder is that playing games overtakes other desires, and that it continues or escalates despite negative consequences.

According to the symptoms of the condition, a patient is supposed to show signs of lack of self-control regarding engagement in gaming activities, making preference of gaming over other activities of importance as well as the escalation of gaming activities into personal life. Now, the updated 11 edition of the ICD has been released, and with it comes the official definition of gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.

"It enables us to understand so much about what makes people get sick and die, and to take action to prevent suffering and save lives", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as the ICD was published.

Online and offline "gaming disorder" is grouped with "disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours" in the ICD's 11th edition, the first major revision in almost three decades.

It's clear then that the World Health Organization doesn't rush into things or make rash judgments, and since the last revision of the manual has had ample time to study the impact of games on our daily lives. According to the World Health Organization, a gamer must be showing serious side effects like disrupted sleep and diet and a sharp drop in physical activity for at least a year before they can be diagnosed with a disorder. Besides, the classification is used by national health programme managers; data collection specialists; and others. That said, there are millions of gamers around the world, and we feel that it could be said that some of these gamers are actually addicted to gaming.

His advice to people who know someone dealing with a video game addiction? "The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior".

There's no question that games can offer therapeutic benefits, but equally, few would dispute that they can also lead to an unhealthy level of addiction.

UKIE already has their own FAQ up about the issue, which explains the controversy and the genuine disagreement in academic circles as to whether gaming addiction counts as a separate disorder. "It's too new and it's quite controversial", she said, adding more scientific study would have to be done.

The addition is meant to help clinical professionals define the point at which a pastime or hobby of playing video games becomes problematic.

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