November 13, 2018

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

19 June 2018, 11:48 | Rodolfo Wallace

The World Health Organisation has released its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

It doesn't exactly come as a surprise to find it there. Has your child been treated for a gaming disorder? Who stay up, play too much, don't look after themselves, they're willing to throw away friendships over video games.

Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context).

However, there is no mention that these boys are failing in school, their personal health is lacking or that they are "prioritising gaming over other interests", as the WHO specifies as the requirements for gaming disorder.

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. An episode must generally last for at least 12 months, according to the WHO. That, though, may be adjusted depending on the severity of the observed addiction. In the United Kingdom, the country's National Health Service has now started offering free treatment for those experiencing the disorder, though exactly what treatment would be most effective is still under discussion. "These include gaming disorder, which evidence shows is enough of a health problem that it requires tracking through the ICD". The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

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Instead, it's classed as a "condition for further study" in the DSM-V, the most recent version. Although that may sound intense, so was her video game addiction.

Generally, the existence of gaming disorder as a true addiction has been openly debated since 2016, with UKIE outlining in its FAQ concerning the condition that "36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centres and prestigious universities" opposed the official recognition of the disorder. Revisions in inclusions of sexual health conditions are sometimes made when medical evidence does not back up cultural assumptions.

Doctors won't necessarily start diagnosing using these definitions right away. Although traditional medicine is used by millions of people worldwide, it never before has been classified by World Health Organization in this system. Thus, the inclusion for the first time of traditional medicine is a way of recording epidemiological data about disorders described in ancient Chinese medicine, commonly used in China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world.

Yesterday, an updated version of the draft has been released to member states of the World Health Organization so that they might prepare to implement the changes.

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