World Health Organization adds gaming disorder to 2018 mental health concern list

Kristen Gonzales
December 29, 2017

Health care employees and doctors can now diagnose patients with the condition.

"The WHO move reflects growing awareness about this disorder - among health professionals, parents and teachers", said Manoj Sharma, associate professor of clinical psychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), Bangalore.

Excessive video game playing will soon be classified as a mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization.

But to be clear, this doesn't mean that all gaming is addictive or could lead to a disorder.

Last year, dozens of psychologists, including Ferguson, penned a grave article in response to the WHO's proposal to list gaming disorder. "Impaired control" is the key phrase in this definition, with the apparent disorder leading gaming to "take precedence" over basically every other aspect of the addict's life.

In a number of countries, the problem has become a significant public health concern.

There are many other studies leading up to the ICD-11 classification of gaming disorder that demonstrates a correlation between high-frequency of video gaming behavior, impulsivity, and attention problems.

Gaming disorder to be named a mental health condition for the first time
World Health Organization adds gaming disorder to 2018 mental health concern list

This isn't a particularly new realization, as there have been rehab centers for gaming addiction founded in the past.

But problematic gaming may also serve as a dysfunctional coping mechanism for some, according to the Nottingham Trent researchers.

Part of the problem is how to distinguish between simply spending a lot of time playing games and actual addictive behavior.

Although it's rare, gamers have died during marathon gaming sessions, according to the Washington Post. It is the first time that the ICD has included an entry for gaming, placing it in the same category as the disorders related to drugs, alcohol and gambling.

Gamers compulsively play to the exclusion of other interests and their persistent gaming appears to endanger their academic or job functioning, the APA had said. "They dismiss what this person is experiencing".

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