Video game addiction is now being recognised as a mental health condition

Grant Boone
June 19, 2018

However, she warns that video gaming addiction affects just a small percentage of the world's population - but adds that "it must be recognised" early, as it can "last a year before diagnosis".

"Disorders due to addictive behaviours are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances", writes the WHO.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to "the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world".

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

There's another related condition that's new to ICD-11: Hazardous gaming.

"Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders", the World Health Organization said in a statement.

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The move means that people will now be able to receive treatment for their addictions to video games and that the NHS in the United Kingdom will be able to provide treatment to children addicted to games free of charge.

The latest version of the ICD was released on Monday to include the condition - which is characterised by "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour which may be online or offline". The DSM-5 calls out "Internet Gaming Disorder" but says it's a condition that warrants more clinical research and experience before it can be classified in the book as a formal disorder. The overwhelming majority of video game adepts are young, many in their teens.

"Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view", said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

More than 2 billion people worldwide regularly play games.

The ICD forms a basis for the WHO and other experts to see and respond to trends in health, and is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on the classifications. "However, their prevalence has been increasing to such an alarming degree that we welcome the official World Health Organization recognition as it can help propel further research and provision of services".

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