Medicine

NHS to treat gaming addiction

NHS to treat gaming addiction

You can expect to hear a lot about the addictive nature of video games over the next few days, because the World Health Organisation has just published the latest draft of its updated International Classification of Diseases manual, and a, "gaming disorder", is listed as a genuine medical condition.

However, Vladimir Poznyak of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told New Scientist past year, when the agency first revealed its decision to include gaming disorder in its diagnostic manual, that the move was supported by sufficient evidence.

Those behaviours, according to the World Health Organization, can significantly impair people's personal, family, social, educational, occupational and other important areas of functioning.

WHO said classifying "gaming disorder" as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks.

It's unclear what the future of gaming-related conditions really is, or how robust treatment will be. "We are therefore concerned to see "gaming disorder" still contained in the latest version of the WHO's ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community".

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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"Gaming Disorder" is defined as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior ('digital gaming" or "video-gaming'), which may be online (i.e., over the Internet) or offline", and was officially added to the Classification of Diseases on Monday, .

Some 2.5 billion people - one-in-three worldwide - play some form of free-to-play screen game, especially on cell phones, but the disorder only affects a "small minority", said Saxena. The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is take into account by countries when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders. Previous editions had categorised sexual dysfunction and gender incongruence, for example, under mental health conditions, while in ICD-11 these move to the sexual health section.

Video game addiction is a term that has been used for years by parents and mental health professionals who believe that it's a real disorder. In May 2019, ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly for adoption by member states and be effective in January 2022.

"People that tend to have a problem with scratching their video game habits are going to suffer in life areas like work or relationships, or friendships or school", he said.

For video game addicts, it might soon be 'game over'. While mental health practitioners are one key audience, the document is also instrumental among health insurers, who use its classifications to decide on reimbursement and more.