Saturday 18 August 2018

Addiction to video games is a mental disorder, as WHO adds it to list of mental health conditions for first time

Stock picture
Stock picture

Margi Murphy

Those who play video games compulsively for long periods of time may be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has for the first time included "gaming disorder" in its list of mental health conditions in a draft of its 11th International Classification of Diseases guidelines, which will be published in 2018.

The WHO characterised a gaming disorder as a "pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" both on or offline.

Notable traits include patients prioritising gaming over "life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences". Patients must have shown symptoms for at least a year before diagnosis.

The guidelines form the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and are the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions.

They are used by medical practitioners, including doctors and nurses in the 100 countries were WHO is recognised, to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions. The inclusion of a disorder can shape national healthcare budgets and insurance policies.

This means that in the future, treatment for gaming disorders could be funded by the Department of Health, although there is no guidance drawn up on how to treat this condition.

"Use of the internet, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices has dramatically increased over recent decades," Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, said.

"While the increase is associated with clear benefits to users, health problems as a result of excessive use have also been documented."

Irish Independent

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