WHO Lists ‘Gaming Disorder,’ Or Video Game Addiction, As A Mental Health Condition

‘Gave over’ for video game addicts: WHO has officially classified ‘gaming disorder’ as a recognized mental health problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) earlier today, and “gaming disorder” is on the list as a recognized mental health condition.

“Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders,” WHO officials announced on June 18.

According to CNN, the new diagnostic was proposed by Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who outlined the three major characteristics of video game addiction.

“One is that the gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery,” said Poznyak.

Another tip-off that someone is suffering from gaming disorder is if their compulsion to keep on playing video games escalates despite obvious negative consequences.

A third characteristic that signals a video game addiction and could justify a gaming disorder diagnostic is if people indulge in this highly popular pastime to such a severe extent that it interferes not only with their personal, academic, or professional life, but also with their health and wellbeing, leading to sedentarism, diet problems, and “disturbed sleep patterns,” explained Poznyak.

However, not everyone who spends hours glued to the screen playing video games is an addict, WHO noted in a previous report on the characteristics of video game addiction.

“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

Poznyak points out that, just because someone becomes engulfed in video games and dedicates a large portion of their free time to intensive gaming, this doesn’t warrant a diagnostic of video game addiction.

In fact, Poznyak made it very clear that only trained healthcare professionals are capable of giving a clinical diagnostic of gaming disorder.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, WHO announced that gaming disorder would be included in the ICD ever since last year, when the organization was working on finalizing the language that would be used to describe video game addiction and define it as a mental health problem.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, who runs the WHO department for mental health, revealed that the organization’s decision to accept Poznyak’s proposal and add gaming disorder to the list of addictive behaviors was based on scientific evidence, as well as “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”

Saxena estimates that two to three percent of avid gamers might be dealing with a compulsive problem that has evolved into an addiction to video games, reports Global News.

While CNN notes that a large number of concerned parents are bound to find some backup in the recent WHO statement and to possibly curtail the time their children spend playing video games, not everyone agrees that gaming disorder belongs in the ICD.

For instance, licensed psychologist Anthony Bean argues that listing gaming addiction as a mental health disorder may not have been such a good idea.

“It’s a little bit premature to label this as a diagnosis,” said Bean, who is the executive director of the Texan nonprofit mental health clinic The Telos Project.

“I’m a clinician and a researcher, so I see people who play video games and believe themselves to be on the lines of addicted,” Bean stated, noting that in most of the cases his patients are actually using gaming “more as a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression.”

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