With amazing technological advancements flooding the industry, gaming is more popular than ever. But with that, the content is getting so good that some people are having trouble finding a healthy balance. Responding to this growing issue, the World Health Organization has decided to officially classify gaming addiction as a mental health condition. This move has been very divisive, with some hoping that it may facilitate better treatment, and others feeling it’s an overreaction. There are even some psychologists who disagree with its inclusion in the International Classification of Diseases, which defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions.
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This news comes with the WHO’s release of its 11th edition of the ICD. The organization has clarified that opposed to creating a precedent, they are instead just following trends and developments. Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said “Health professionals need to recognize that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences. Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.”
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The WHO is classifying gaming disorder with three major diagnostic features or characteristics. One is that it takes precedent over other activities, second is impaired control of these behaviors, and third is significant distress in everyday functioning. This could include issues with sleep, diet and a lack of healthy physical activity. They compare it to substance abuse, and more accurately, gambling disorder. The WHO reserves treatment decisions for health care professionals, many of whom feel this is challenging in that gaming is often used as a coping mechanism for other disorders like anxiety and depression.