Can someone be addicted to video games? Yes, the World Health Organization thinks so and it’s a mental condition that has a name too – Gaming Disorder.
“Gaming disorder” has officially been considered by the World Health Organization as a mental health disorder. In its 11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases diagnostic handbook which is used to classify health conditions classified gaming disorder as a diagnosable condition.
“I’m not creating a precedent,” said Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which proposed the new diagnosis to WHO’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly.
Instead, he said, WHO has followed “the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field.”
For one to be considered as someone with gaming disorder, these 3 are the telltale signs that need to be recurrent for at least one year.
- Gaming is strongly preferred over other activities,
- No limits on gaming even with present negative consequences.
- Compulsive gaming strains the patient’s life or relationships.
But this stance has been contested by some mental health professionals who do not think that gaming disorder is worthy of inclusion in the International Classification of Diseases.
“It’s a little bit premature to label this as a diagnosis,” Bean said. “I’m a clinician and a researcher, so I see people who play video games and believe themselves to be on the lines of addicted.” In his experience, they’re actually using gaming “more as a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression.” Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director at The Telos Project, a non-profit mental health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, tells CNN.
WHO also mentions that most interventions or treatments for gaming disorder are based on the principles and methods of cognitive behavioral therapy and different types of support may also be provided, including “psychosocial interventions: social support, understanding of the conditions, family support.”
Ultimately, the WHO bid is that the classification will fuel research and international collaboration and significantly reduce the current gaps in knowledge when it comes to the prevalence of these conditions, their nature, and management.