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The World Health Organization (WHO) now considers video game addiction a mental health disorder.
The WHO listed the addiction as “gaming disorder” to the latest version of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The ICD is a guide for doctors and researchers to keep track of and identify illnesses.
As described in the ICD, people with gaming disorder display weak control over the frequency, duration, and intensity of playing video games. They also put their hobbies, family, work, or school on the back burner and ignore the negative consequences of their addiction. To be classified as a gaming disorder, the aforementioned symptoms must manifest in a person for at least a year.
In the United States, treatment facilities and camps for gaming addiction are rare and expensive. The professionals who handle cases of game addiction are ill-equipped because they are only exposed to patients with anxiety and alcoholism.
By adding gaming disorder to the ICD, the WHO is hopeful that health experts will pay more attention to the condition and develop better treatment and preventive measures. Additionally, the organization hopes that insurance companies will be open to covering the costs of gaming disorder treatments.
However, many researchers and mental health professionals are skeptical about WHO’s decision. They claimed that there is insufficient research to support gaming addiction as a legitimate mental disorder.
Some explained that it is dangerous to think that gaming addiction is a disorder in itself. They pointed out that the addiction may be an indication of more serious mental disorders like depression and anxiety. These underlying disorders may be overlooked if mental health professionals focus only on treating gaming addiction alone.