Gaming disorder is expected to be recognized as a mental health condition in the new disease classification guide expected to be published in May 2018. The World Health Organization defines the disorder as a “persistent or recurrent” behavior pattern of gaming that is of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” For example, if your gaming means your neglecting homework or taking care of your personal needs, it may be a symptom of a diagnosable mental condition.
Gaming disorder is characterized by impaired control with increasing escalation of the behavior despite negative consequences over a period of at least 12 months. Common symptoms of the disorder include social isolation, a reduction in empathy, loss of appetite, loss of sensory perception, and trouble transitioning from one thought to another. The diagnosis could also be made for people who have been playing for shorter periods of time if all requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute conducted a study on the percentage of gamers who are addicted to video games last year. Surveying 19,000 men and women from the UK, the US, Canada and Germany, the study found that only 2 to 3 percent of the participants reported five or more of the symptoms from the American Psychiatric Association’s checklist for gaming addiction. However, some health experts believe that addiction to video games is a widespread but hidden problem.
The beta draft of the 11th International Classification of Diseases includes “gaming disorder” for the first time. Adding the disorder would make the health condition an official diagnosis that can be used by health care workers. While the guide would contain a clinical description of the disorder, it will not include prevention or treatment options. According to reports, WHO officials have not yet made a final decision on whether to include gaming disorder as part of the 2018 ICD.
The existing version of the ICD is currently used by more than 100 countries around the world. The guide is used globally by medical practitioners for diagnosing conditions and by researchers for categorizing disorders. It is also used by public health experts to compare data and track the number of deaths from various diseases. The guide lists both mental and physical disorders. It was last updated 27 years ago, in 1990.