World Health Organization declares compulsive video gaming a mental disorder

Video gaming-123RF

Video gaming-123RF- File

Addictively playing video game Fortnite could indicate something more worrisome, according to the World Health Organization.

It doesn't exactly come as a surprise to find it there. The ICD provides data on the causes of thousands of diseases, injuries and deaths across the globe and information on prevention and treatment.

Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context).

The agency described the addiction as a "pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" that becomes so extensive it "takes precedence over other life interests". That, though, may be adjusted depending on the severity of the observed addiction.

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.

Why was gaming disorder included in ICD-11?

In the U.S. and in some European countries, ICD-11 and its classification of diseases is used for allocating insurance premiums and expenses.

But All Gamers Have Mental Disorder?

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Despite what is - admittedly - a pretty even-handed handling of the situation, gaming organisations from around the world have expressed concern at the its inclusion.

Instead, it's classed as a "condition for further study" in the DSM-V, the most recent version.

Those experts, who published an article in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, said that there has not been enough research done to establish it as its own condition, and that the definition of gaming disorder is not consistent.

Many parents will have thought it for a long time, but they now have a new argument to limit their children's "screen time" after addiction to video games was recognised as a mental health disorder.

Despite some pushback from various places, including the Entertainment Software Association, the WHO Has nonetheless made a decision to go ahead and keep the disorder in its finalized classifications. The ICD is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorise conditions.

"Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider social impact, we urge our colleagues at the World Health Organization to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalisation", they wrote in a study reviewing academic literature.

WHO's new ICD-11 also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide, it has never been classified in this system.

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