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Why Gaming Addictions May Be Rooted in a Mental Disorder

Xbox controller

We joke that we are glued to our screens and addicted to our devices. However, experts are recognizing that a so-called addiction to gaming has roots in a mental disorder.


Medical health professionals and therapists have become increasingly aware of the health risks that the overuse of electronic devices poses to our generation. We have been hurtling towards “device abuse” ever since Internet Addiction Disorder was classified as a condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders in 2013.

As we approach 2018, experts have announced that gaming disorder will be classified as a mental health condition in the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The last edition was published in 1990 so gaming disorder will be one of many updates to the disease list.

Addictions Rule Lives

According to New Scientist, the draft due to be released in 2018 has labeled an individual with gaming disorder as someone who has given gaming priority in their lives “to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests.”

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Addictions of any kind offer an escape from reality, but the escape they offer is so complete that some consider never returning to the real world as they are swallowed by fantasies and shadowed exploits in the underground of the internet gaming system. The scary thing is that not just children and teenagers are at risk for this disorder, but adults as well.

As violence continues to rise in our society, the question is raised as to whether or not video games play a part. Many best-selling video games are often given mature ratings based on the level of violence. Is all of this blood and gore affecting the mental health of children and teens accustomed to playing adult games?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the following symptoms and behaviors are characteristic of Internet Abuse Disorder. You will notice that gaming is a frequent offender listed in more than one of these.

• General preoccupation with internet gaming
• Withdrawal symptoms when Internet access is denied
• The need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in internet gaming
• Unsuccessful attempt to control internet gaming use
• The use of internet gaming to escape or relieve a dysphoric mood
• Deception regarding the amount of internet gaming to therapists and relatives
• Jeopardizing a relationship, career, or educational opportunity due to internet gaming
• Loss of interests in previous hobbies because of internet gaming
• Continued excessive use of internet despite the acknowledgment of psychosocial problems

An addiction to internet gaming encourages anti-social behavior and an alarming disconnection from the real world in the individual’s life habits. It is frightening to acknowledge that such an addiction can lead to an increasingly warped perception of the real world. We must be proactive in protecting ourselves and our loved ones from a gaming disorder or overall Internet Abuse Disorder.

Check out these other great articles by EMaxHealth: Can Mass Shootings Be Stopped with Diet?, Should We Really Treat Mental Health Days Like Regular Sick Days?, and How to Know if Your Sympathetic Nervous System Is In Overdrive.