Gaming Disorder: A real mental health condition

International Classification of Diseases defines Gaming Disorder as a mental health condition wherein people have trouble controlling the amount of time they spend playing digital or video games. They prioritize gaming over other activities, have less social interactions and experience negative effects from their gaming behaviors.

They also warn that people with gaming disorder, because of remaining physically inactive for extended time period, are at high risk to become obese and develop  sleep problems,  stomach ailments and other health issues. Addicted players might also suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain and numbness in the hands and wrists. They will also develop dry eyes, headaches, back and neck aches.

Five signs of gaming disorder:

Five signs of gaming disorder

  • Spending several hours doing games
  • Games take precedence over family, school work, job responsibilities and social activities
  • Continuing with games in spite of repercussions
  • Observing disturbance in nutrition, sleep pattern and physical fitness, hygiene
  • Observing this behavior pattern for at least 12 months

Why gaming is a health threat now ?

Video games have come a long way from its first release in 1970s. Then games were not this easy to access and addictive. In earlier days people had to visit game stores to play games and had to return home once it closed. Then came the time of having these gaming stations at home itself. This also needed people to log in and since it was not movable time spent on it was still less and controllable. With coming in of new age smart phones, people now have the privilege to play the game anywhere anytime, in school at work or even late night. This is making it addictive. All the more with improvement in technology and photorealistic graphics, game characters are looking very much real and interactive.  The line between virtual and real is getting blurred day by day.

Steam games platform in August 2017, had 67 million active monthly users and 33 million daily active users

Is your loved one suffering from gaming disorder ?

Just because a person is spending lot of time playing a game does not make a person addicted to game. Now gaming is in itself an industry and many are involved in development and testing of games. According to PWC reports, revenue from gaming is expected to surpass 90 billion by 2020.  Also all games are not bad. Several games like City Crisis, Tetris are available which can impact a person positively.  Games are available that can help children with hand-eye coordination, problem solving and maths skills. Now games are also used as a medium to teach children with special needs. As a parent or loved one, one need to raise the alarm if the person keep aside work, family and social activities and get involved in games and display anger and anxiety ones games are taken away from them. Look out for five signs listed at the beginning of this blog, before you label it as gaming disorder.

How to tackle gaming disorder ?

Treating gaming disorder is very much similar to treating any other kind of addiction. Family members must show lots of patience and also need to provide them positive support. Many a times people resort to addiction to run away from reality or because of their scare to face real life problems. Understanding the real issue to the core is very much essential to remove this addiction completely. Support system must be ready to handle any kind of withdrawal symptoms the addict may exhibit. It is very essential to divert their minds to creative work, outdoor activities and sports. Emotional support provided by the community on the whole can make the recovery fast. It is also essential to take the help of doctors and experts to identify best therapy plan. The most popular treatment approach for game addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT for gaming addiction involves challenging and replacing thoughts from mind about excessive gaming and its thrills and then systematically reducing the time spent playing the game.

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