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WHO Classifies Video Game Addiction As A Mental Health Problem: What Are The Symptoms Of Gaming Disorder?

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The World Health Organization has classified gaming disorder as a mental health condition. The United Nations agency has included gaming disorder in the new draft of the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, which was released on Monday.

Implications Of Including Gaming Disorder In ICD

Being included in the ICD-11 means that gaming disorder will become a health condition and a diagnosis can be used by doctors, healthcare workers, and insurance companies.

Signs And Symptoms Of Gaming Disorder

Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said that gaming disorder has three major diagnostic features.

The first is that gaming behavior takes precedence over the sufferer's other activities and life. The second is impaired control of gaming behaviors. The third is it leads to significant impairment of the sufferer's personal, social, family, and occupational or educational functioning.

Poznyak said that the main characteristics of gaming disorder are the same as those of gambling disorders and substance use disorders. He explained that gambling disorder is not linked to use of psychoactive substance but still features addictive behaviors.

Effects Of Gaming Disorder

The effect of gaming disorder is also real and may include diet problems, deficiency in physical activity and disturbed sleep patterns.

A 2009 study published in Psychological Science, which involved more than 1,100 youth, showed that pathological gamers spend twice as much time playing compared with non-pathological gamers. They also received poorer grades in school and are marked by attention problems.

Prevalence Of Gaming Disorder

Those who play video games, however, do not necessarily suffer from the mental disorder. Poznyak said that even those who do intense gaming may not qualify to be suffering from gaming disorder.

A person has to show the negative pattern of behavior for at least 12 months and the symptoms have to be severe enough to cause impairment to the important aspects of the person's life. WHO said that the prevalence of the condition is actually low.

"Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities," WHO said.

Gamers

Figures from the Entertainment Software Associated show that there is an average of two gamers in every game-playing household in the United States. It isn't just kids who love video games. The average age of female video game players is 36, while the average age of male video game players is 32.

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