Video gaming addiction is now a mental disorder, says WHO

20 June, 2018, 07:58 | Author: Cassandra Gardner
  • Video game addiction declared a mental health problem, treatment to be available on NHS

The recognition comes five years after the American Psychiatric Association added "Internet Gaming Disorder" to their latest list of disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders edition 5 (or DSM-5), as a 'Condition for Further Study' - meaning that leaders in the field are aware of the issue and want to see more research. The hallmark of the disorder is that playing games overtakes other desires, and that it continues or escalates despite negative consequences.

In its latest revision to an global disease classification manual, the United Nations health agency said Monday that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue". The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is take into account by countries when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

Finally, after years of speculation and concern, we may start to get some scientific answers now that the World Health Organization has made a decision to classify gaming disorder as an addiction, comparable to compulsive gambling or substance abuse. Some 2.5 billion people, or one in three worldwide, play some form of free-to-play screen game.

Gaming also piques gamers' interest in new hobbies and careers such as history (15 percent), information technology (12 percent) and art (7 percent), while 34 percent cite improved cognition, problem-solving or social skills thanks to gaming.

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The World Health Organization says that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition, in a move that some critics warn may risk stigmatizing its young players.

Researchers across the world use it as reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions.

It's hoped the new official classification will encourage gamers to seek help for their addiction and others take their disorder more seriously.

The WHO's latest reference bible of recognised and diagnosable diseases describes addiction to digital and video gaming as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour".

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While gamers are willing to acknowledge the potential downsides of their past-time, with 23 percent claiming that gaming addiction should be ranked alongside drug/alcohol/gambling addiction, the question of commentators linking violence with gaming drew a almost unanimous response.

ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states, and will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

The ICD is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the global standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. Gaming disorder was considered for inclusion based on scientific evidence and the recommendations of experts around the world.

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