Compulsive Game Playing Classified as Mental Health Disorder by WHO

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Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced its intention to update the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for the first time since 1990 with the ICD-11. WHO also revealed that the ICD-11 would feature a new mental health disorder for excessive game playing, and now it's official. Compulsively playing video games is a mental health disorder.

With no more than three percent of gamers believed to be affected, compulsive video game playing doesn't seem to be as widespread of an issue as some may think. However, for those who are addicted to video games, the consequences can be dire. Similarly to other addictions, a video game addiction will see individuals ruin other, important aspects of their lives, such as their work, school, and socializing with friends and family.

Over the years, we have seen some clear examples of individuals who are addicted to video games. There are some reported incidents where people have played video games until they died, unable to pull themselves away from whatever game they're playing. There's also examples of people quitting their jobs to play video games, or students abandoning their studies so that they can stay home and play video games.

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One of the most recent examples of video game addiction on display in the real world is the case of a nine year old girl addicted to Fortnite. The nine year old girl was staying up all night playing the free-to-play battle royale game, causing her to fall asleep at school. She also was reportedly soiling herself instead of taking bathroom breaks, and even attacked her father when he attempted to take her Xbox One away. Ultimately, the girl's parents decided to check their daughter into a rehabilitation clinic to help her stop playing the game.

Some may be wondering how someone could become so addicted to a video game that they are soiling themselves and attacking family members. As explained by the American Psychiatric Association (which, unlike WHO, has not yet classified excessive game playing as a mental health disorder), "The studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict's brain is affected by a particular substance. The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior."

It's clear that video game addiction and compulsive gaming is a serious issue that warrants further study to find the best ways to treat it so that the individuals experiencing it can get the help they need. However, it's also important to keep in mind that the vast majority of gamers aren't afflicted with gaming disorder, and in fact, there are even ways gaming can improve one's mental health.

Source: Medical Express

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