World Health Organization to classify video game addiction as mental illness

The World Health Organization could soon recognize “gaming disorder.”
The World Health Organization could soon recognize “gaming disorder.”

29 December, 2017

The latest draft of the World Health Organization's 2018 worldwide classification of diseases is now available online.

Basically, you play a lot of videogames.

Sudden deaths and physical symptoms linked to online gaming have been on the rise in recent years.

The disorder is characterised by "impaired control" with increasing priority given to gaming and "escalation", despite "negative consequences".

According to the marketing group NPD, video game console spending in the up 27 percent from past year, up to $1.9 billion.

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"Disorders due to addictive behaviors are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviors other than the use of dependence-producing substances", the gaming-relevant section states.

The revised version of the manual is slated to appear in 2018 and is expected to classify addiction to video games as a separate condition called "gaming disorder".

The WHO charactised a gaming disorder as a "pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" both on or offline. That said, "Internet Gaming Disorder" was also proposed for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, but was ultimately slated for further study because of a lack of evidence supporting its inclusion. So if you receive treatment for your gaming addiction, you could theoretically get it paid for through insurance, much like other forms of addictive behavior.

This isn't a particularly new realization, as there have been rehab centers for gaming addiction founded in the past. Second, some research has indicated that "video game addiction" is not a stable construct and clinical impairment might be low. Doctors are advised to look for telltale signs like social isolation, appetite loss, antisocial behavior and withdrawal symptoms.

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