Gaming addiction 'a mental health disorder'

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"Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital or video-gaming activities", a briefing on the disorder said. Previous editions had categorised sexual dysfunction and gender incongruence, for example, under mental health conditions. Researchers across the world use it as reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions.

Benjamin Wong, a counselor at Mindful Digitality based in Vancouver, British Columbia, joins KRON4 News to discuss. A mental health professional would also address problematic thoughts associated with either stopping playing or the thoughts that keep them gaming, he says. There has been a global effort to find treatment for those who play compulsively, especially in light of the deaths of people who continued to play games past the point of dehydration and exhaustion.

"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease", said Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement).

Not all gamers should be concerned about developing gaming disorder.

WHO said classifying "gaming disorder" as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks.

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The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade group for the video game industry, has issued a statement regarding the World Health Organization's new "gaming disorder" disease.

Director of WHO's Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Shekhar Saxena, describes some of the warning signs of addictive Gaming behavior. "The WHO should consider the mounting evidence put before them before inclusion next year of "gaming disorder" in the final version of ICD-11".

In South Korea and the USA, clinics have sprung up to treat video game addiction, along with community and online support groups.

"Research has been done on how playing video games at high rates of frequency can interrupt other activities in life and can become problematic for a person's lifestyle", he said. "The gaming behaviour 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". The new ICD-11 also reflects progress in medicine and advances in scientific understanding.