Compulsive video gaming classified as a new mental health problem by WHO

The WHO said that if gaming takes precedence over daily activities and life interests, then it can be classed as gaming disorder.

It also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide, it has never been classified in this system.

The United Nations' WHO has been contemplating the declaration of compulsive video game playing as a mental health condition since a year ago, and the game industry has been pushing back.

Online and offline "gaming disorder" is grouped with "disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours" in the ICD's 11th edition, the first major revision in almost three decades.

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences. The impacts of gaming disorder may include "disturbed sleep patterns, like diet problems, like a deficiency in the physical activity", Poznyak adds.

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The proposed disorder falls under the category of substance abuse or addictive behaviors, which reads: "Disorders due to substance use and addictive behaviours are mental and behavioural disorders that develop as a result of the use of predominantly psychoactive substances, including medications, or specific repetitive rewarding and reinforcing behaviours". "The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe".

"It can not be just an episode of few hours or few days", Poznyak said.

Saxena said approximately two to three percent of gamers are likely affected by this condition and said many parents should make sure to consistently observe the habits of their children.

"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he noted. However, by officially recognizing gaming disorder, the document paves the way for prevention and treatment options that "can help people to alleviate their suffering".

UKIE already has their own FAQ up about the issue, which explains the controversy and the genuine disagreement in academic circles as to whether gaming addiction counts as a separate disorder. Some propose that it's merely a coping mechanism for people struggling with anxiety or depression. The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive.

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