Gaming Addiction Set To Be Classified As Mental Health Condition

By Bryan Le 12/26/17

The world of psychiatry is set to recognize video gaming addiction as an official mental disorder in 2018.

Hands reaching for a video game controller.
As real as any other.

Video game addiction could soon become a recognized mental health condition in the International Classification of Diseases, according to The Independent. The International Classification of Diseases is a diagnostic manual published by the World Health Organization, but it hasn’t seen an update in 27 years.

The upcoming eleventh edition, due to be released in 2018, is set to change the way mental health professionals treat video game addiction. While the exact wording of the entry isn’t nailed down quite yet, drafts have outlined the criteria that the manual will list as symptoms for officially diagnosing the disorder.

“Health professionals need to recognize that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences,” said Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.”

The American Psychiatric Association has already defined symptoms for “internet gaming disorder” for a few years now, a list which includes anxiety, withdrawal, and antisocial behavior. A 2016 study by the University of Oxford found that out of 19,000 gaming men and women surveyed in the U.S., Canada and Germany, 2 to 3% revealed that they met at least five of the criteria for addiction in their gaming habits.

“To our knowledge, these are the first findings from a large-scale project to produce robust evidence on the potential new problem of ‘internet gaming disorder,’” said Dr. Andrew Przybylski, lead author of the study. “Contrary to what was predicted, the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health; however, more research grounded in open and robust scientific practices is needed to learn if games are truly as addictive as many fear.”

While the field of psychiatry has yet to establish a relationship between addiction and video gaming, some have lost their jobs and families because of their gaming habits. The Fix interviewed a trucker with a back injury and PTSD from his time in the military, who dove into World of Warcraft to forget his pains and lost his wife and daughter in the process.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter