What is New Gaming Disorder? Full details for 2023
As a gamer, it's common to spend a lot of time playing your favorite video games, like World of Warcraft, Fortnite, or Candy Crush. However, there's a difference between gaming as a fun hobby and playing too much that it affects your life in the wrong way.
When gaming becomes a problem and starts to impact your life negatively, it's called Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). It’s important to know the signs of this compulsive behavior to make sure that gaming remains a fun and healthy hobby.
What is Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) / Video Game Addiction?
Video Game Addiction, also known as Internet Gaming Disorder, is when someone has a strong desire to play video games all the time and struggles to control how much time they spend gaming. This can negatively affect many aspects of their lives, including self-care, relationships, school, and work.
It can happen on any electronic device, but most people with gaming issues play on the internet.
Whether it is classified as an addiction or mental illness is debated, but it is recognized by the World Health Organization. It can cause problems with a person's physical, mental health, emotional, social, or work life.
Some researchers compare it to gambling addiction, where the feeling of winning is a major reason for playing.
Gaming Addiction Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of video game addiction or internet gaming disorder include
- Poor performance at school, work, or household responsibilities due to excessive gaming addiction.
- Withdrawal symptoms like sadness, anxiety, or irritability when games are taken away.
- Need to spend more time playing games to get the same level of enjoyment.
- Giving up other activities and relationships due to gaming
- Inability to decrease the amount of time spent playing and repeated failures to discontinue the activity despite unfavorable outcomes.
- Providing false information about the duration of gaming.
- Excessive gaming affects personal hygiene and grooming.
- Using games to escape stress or avoid conflicts.
- Lack of control over time spent gaming.
- Prioritizing gaming over other interests, tasks, and responsibilities.
- Continued or escalated gaming despite negative consequences.
- A significant impairment of personal, family, social, work, or educational functioning.
- Deliberately lying or covering up the truth about gaming habits or the amount of time spent playing.
If these symptoms are severe, a diagnosis can be made sooner than 12 months. It's important to note that gaming behavior can be online or offline.
Potential Cause of IGD
Recent neurological studies have discovered resemblances in the brains of individuals with video game addiction and those with substance use disorders. Here are various factors that can contribute to transforming gaming from a pastime to a gaming addiction, resulting in Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD):
- Dopamine desensitization: Playing video games can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasurable reward and motivation. However, over time, the brain can become desensitized to these effects, leading to the need for longer and more frequent gaming sessions to achieve the same level of satisfaction.
- Escapism: Gaming can be a positive coping mechanism for some individuals to escape stress or negative emotions. However, excessive gaming to avoid dealing with real-life problems can worsen existing issues and lead to compulsive behavior.
- Sense of belonging: Multiplayer gaming can provide a sense of community and social interaction, particularly for introverted or socially anxious individuals. The anonymity of online interactions can make it appealing to those who struggle with in-person social situations.
- Identity factors: Studies suggest that males may be more susceptible to compulsive gaming due to genetic predispositions that lead to greater activity in reward-based areas of the brain.
- Instant gratification: Video games provide achievable and consistent challenges, leading to a reward system that reinforces gaming behavior and can become addictive.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined the behaviors that may lead to a diagnosis of gaming disorder, but assessing these behaviors is not yet clear. Experts might need to create tests like surveys and interviews to figure out if someone has a gaming addiction. One standard measure of computer and video game addiction is the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale (IGDS).
A healthcare provider may refer someone to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist for a diagnosis of video game addiction (internet gaming disorder). These professionals use the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose mental disorders, which includes information about internet gaming disorders.
In the assessment, the mental health professional will ask about your medical and personal history, including your gaming patterns. Gaming behavior patterns must be extreme enough to result in significant impairment to personal, family, social, educational, and/or occupational functioning for internet gaming disorder to be diagnosed. Typically, these behaviors must continue for a minimum of one year.
Management & Treatment:
Here are some treatment and support options for gaming disorder and video game addiction:
For gaming disorder:
- Psychoeducation: education about gaming behaviors and how they affect mental health.
- Treatment as usual: adapting addiction treatment to fit gaming disorder
- Intrapersonal: exploring identity, building self-esteem, and enhancing emotional intelligence
- Interpersonal: learning how to interact with others through communication skills and assertiveness
- Family intervention: involving family members in therapy if gaming disorder is affecting relationships
- Development of a new lifestyle: exploring skills and finding alternative activities to prevent excessive gaming
For video game addiction:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a structured, goal-oriented therapy that helps people change their thoughts and behaviors.
- Group therapy: discussing problems with peers under therapist supervision for motivation and support
- Family or marriage counseling: educating loved ones about the disorder and creating a more stable home environment
- Therapy: It involves collaborating with a therapist to identify the underlying factors contributing to obsessive gaming and providing effective coping mechanisms for managing compulsive behaviors.
- Mindfulness: using meditation practices to develop self-awareness and cope with negative thoughts that lead to gaming or escapism
- Gaming breaks: taking breaks and becoming aware of screen time used to heal the relationship with gaming
- Residential programs: detoxification programs for severe cases that include finding new outlets, healthier hobbies, and inclusive therapy
It's important to note that any co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and depression, may also require treatment. Support and treatment options are available for those struggling with gaming disorders and video game addiction.
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What are the symptoms of gaming disorder?
Gaming disorder symptoms include impaired control over gaming, prioritizing gaming over other activities, and continuing or escalating gaming despite negative consequences.
What disorders are caused by gaming?
Gaming causes sleep deprivation, insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders, depression, aggression, and anxiety.
Is there a cure for gaming disorder?
There is currently no cure for gaming disorders, but there are different therapies and behavioral interventions available that can help individuals in regaining control over their gaming habits and enhance their overall quality of life.
How do I stop my game addiction?
To overcome game addiction, you can use a combination of self-control and seeking external assistance, including but not limited to establishing restrictions on gaming duration, discovering alternative hobbies, consulting with a therapist, and participating in support groups.
How much gaming is too much?
Engaging in gaming activities for more than two hours daily could result in unfavorable effects and may indicate problematic gaming tendencies.