WHO classifies video game addiction as a mental health disorder

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People who compulsively play video games could soon be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

In its new draft on the International Classification of Diseases manual released yesterday, the World Health Organization has now classified excessive compulsive gaming as a disorder.

On Monday, the U.N.'s health agency announced it will add extreme video game playing as a condition in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases manual.

"The new catalogue, which still needs to be approved by United Nations member countries, so-called "gender incongruence" is now listed under "conditions related to sexual health", instead of "mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders".

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Dr Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimise the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.

The first telltale sign is "gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery", says Poznyak.

However, for people to be classed as suffering from gaming disorder, there will need to be evidence spanning at least 12 months suggesting that the person's other interests and daily activity have been negatively affected by increased gaming and that the situation is continuing to increase despite the warnings.

Last year, a study from almost 30 academics opposed the gaming disorder classification, saying their addiction was best viewed as a coping mechanism associated with underlying problems such as anxiety or depression.

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"The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent", reads the WHO's classification of gaming disorder. Are you concerned about any other internet-related disorders? Although traditional medicine is used by millions of people worldwide, it never before has been classified by World Health Organization in this system. For example, Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist, clinician and researcher speaking to CNN said that gaming is often more of a "coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression".

Still, not all medical officials believe gaming disorder is a stand-alone condition.

"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease", said Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement).

The document, which member states will be asked to approve during the World Health Assembly in Geneva next May, will take effect from January 1, 2022 if it is adopted.

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Those who disagree with the WHO's categorisation of excessive gaming as an addictive disorder are, therefore, expected to appeal against its inclusion. In ICD-11, these move to the sexual health section.

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