The World Health Organization (WHO) is recognizing excessive video gaming as a disease since it causes impairment in critical areas of life. This disorder continually to a beta draft of WHO’s International Classification of diseases.

While some experts have said that video gaming could actually stimulate the brain making it more active, excessive video gaming can lead to several mental health problems. More and more people are unable to control how often they play and can’t seem to be able to stop a game. This affects their personal lives, and that is why the World Health Organization recognizes video gaming as a new disease.

World health organization, mental health
Video gaming disorder is being recognized as a disease. Image Credit: The purple Quill

“The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”, WHO writes on the draft.

‘Gaming Disorder’ is listed under the category:  Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors’

Video gaming is more than just a hobby for many. Some of them are unable to stop playing, which becomes a problem for themselves and the ones around them. Video gaming can severely affect people’s education, work and their relationships with family, friends and themselves. The behavior mostly persists at least one year after being diagnosed. Though depending on the severity of the case, the time for diagnosing can be reduced. Video gaming included both online and offline gaming.

For its terrible consequences, the World Health Organization is adding video gaming disorder as a disease to the draft of the International Classification of Diseases document for 2018. The International Classification of Diseases or ICD is used by health professionals from the entire world, and it serves as a guideline for defining health conditions and diseases. 2018 edition will be the 11th edition of the ICD. Video gaming is especifically listed under the “Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors” category.

However, in the United States, the video gaming disorder has not been recognized yet as an official disease in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), created by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This is the guide followed by health professionals in the United States.

It is very likely that APA includes gaming disorder as a disease in the following guides since it already added internet gaming disorder as a potential problem in the latest guide.

“By listing Internet Gaming Disorder in DSM’5 Section III, APA hopes to encourage research to determine whether the condition should be added to the manual as a disorder,” the APA wrote in an explanation about their stance.

World Health Organization, mental health
Video gaming addiction can deteriorate diverse aspects of life. Image credit: Nielsen

Video gaming hinders normal behavior and functioning

Some might be skeptical about treating video gaming as an actual addiction and a disease. However, it is hard to deny that spending too much time in front of the screen and immerse in a virtual world can hinder the normal behavior. An extreme case of that occurred in Mexico in 2011, when a woman spent so much time playing non-stop that she forgot to take care of her baby and to feed it. The toddler died from malnutrition and dehydration.

In 2015, a man in Taiwan was found dead from a cardiac arrest after playing for three consecutive days. Doctors said that he might have died from exhaustion.

Addiction to video gaming is manifested by:

  • Impaired control over gaming
  • The person gives priority to gaming over any other aspect of the life, which drives them to forget or neglect other interests.
  • Continuation or escalation of the gaming regardless of the negative consequences.

The disorder is most common in male adolescents between 12 and 20 years.

With this actions, WHO is also trying to raise awareness among health professionals, policymakers and people in general about this increasing problem. Video games are getting more sophisticated.

There is an almost endless variety of games in the market, and they are constantly being upgraded. As there is more access to technology and internet, more people are prone to develop an addiction to video gaming.

However, it is essential to take into account that enjoying games, online or offline, doesn’t turn people into addicts. People can play games, in fact, video gaming can help release stress, and improve hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities. The important thing is not to let games control lives.

Source: Newsweek