It’s not yet a long time ago when the World Health Organization finally acknowledged that video game addiction is a mental health condition. It was in 2019 when they added “gaming disorder” to the International Classification of Diseases or the ICD-11, which is WHO’s official diagnostic manual.
Gaming and gambling are very similar activities, but gambling addiction is acknowledged more compared to regular gaming addiction. For some, the people playing at online casinos like 10CRIC are also the same people who might be at risk with problematic gaming. But 10CRIC is regulated means excape players from being cheated and addicted through its press releases etc.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) still hasn’t included video game addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the DSM-5.
The DSM-5 was published in 2013, but no changes have been made yet. The APA only said that there wasn’t enough evidence to determine that a gaming disorder is a unique mental health condition.
Still, mental health experts are supportive of WHO’s classification of gaming addiction. Dr. John Jiao tweeted about gaming addiction and said, “Gaming disorder” is not about [the number] of hours played. It’s when gaming takes precedence over health, hygiene, relationships, finances, etc. Gaming itself is not a disorder.
“People with real, legitimate video game addiction can often have trouble with insurance paying for their therapy, especially if they don’t fit any other diagnosis,” the emergency medical doctor said. He also emphasized that the diagnosis was sorely needed.
What are the Symptoms of a Gaming Disorder?
Now that it is established that gaming disorder is a thing and is different from gambling addiction, how do you spot someone who has this?
Well, there are two ways that gaming addiction could affect a person: emotionally and physically.
When it comes to emotional symptoms, people who have dealt with someone who has a gaming disorder noticed the following:
- Restlessness and irritability while playing and when they can’t play
- Too much anticipation for the next gaming session
- Lying to friends and family about how much time and money they spend on gaming
- Isolation from others to spend more time gaming
Some of the physical symptoms of video game addiction are the following:
- Migraines and eye strain
- Carpal tunnel because of overuse of a game controller, keyboard, and/or mouse
- Poor personal hygiene
Now, there are also other significant long-term effects of gaming disorders. Some people get into financial problems because of playing games. Nowadays, spending on games doesn’t end with purchasing them.
This is especially the case for mobile gaming. There are mobile games that are free to download but have in-app purchases that are hard to resist.
Research from GHA found that almost one in six young gamers took money from their parents without permission to buy loot boxes from games. There are even gamers who ended up having their families re-mortgage their homes to cover the costs of their game spending.
This is why there are countries that have started to look into the loot system of online games like Call of Duty, FIFA, and more. In China, they are now regulating the purchase of loot boxes. They consider this a form of gambling that may result in addiction.
Aside from financial struggles, there are also people with gaming disorders that had to endure academic and occupational consequences.
How to Treat Gaming Disorders
Treatment always starts with assessment. If you know someone exhibiting the symptoms we mentioned above, then that person should start lessening the time they spend on gaming. However, if you are unsure if a person has a gaming disorder, you may seek help from a professional.
Once it is confirmed that a person has a gaming disorder, treatment may come in different forms, including therapy and 12 step-programs. There are also instances when medication might be necessary. According to addictionblog.org, one of the medications used to treat this disorder is bupropion.
It is a drug that helps decrease a person’s cravings, which in this case, is video gaming. However, medication isn’t really what many professionals would resort to right away. Most of the time, therapy is already an effective way to combat this disorder.
Medication may only be necessary if there is more to it than just being addicted to playing video games. This is only a step to take if a professional is involved. Again, the best that you can do if you’re someone dealing with the symptoms or you know someone who has the mentioned symptoms is to consult mental health specialists like psychologists or psychiatrists.