WHO includes gaming disorder as a new mental health condition

The World Health Organization (WHO) has included gaming disorder as a new mental health condition in the latest edition of its International Classification of Diseases.
WebMD gaming disorder

International Classification of Diseases

The WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is widely used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions. The inclusion of a disorder in the ICD is a consideration which many countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders.

The WHO recently published its 11th revision of the ICD (ICD-11).

Gaming disorder

ICD-11 defines “gaming disorder” (6C51) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed:

  • The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
  • The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.
  • The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

The WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder in ICD-11 was based on reviews of available evidence, and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions.

Gaming addiction in China

Although studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities worldwide, gaming addiction has become an increasingly serious problems in China (and Korea).

To address this problem the Chinese government in 2005 introduced an online gaming restriction limiting playing time to three hours, although this restriction has since been relaxed several times.

Many troubled parents have taken matters into their own hands, sending children they believe to be afflicted with gaming disorder to illegal treatment centers. So-called addiction “boot camps” have grown in number across China in recent years, and remain popular despite growing controversy over their practices (e.g., physical beatings, electroshock therapy). Such camps garnered national attention last year when a teenager died at an illegal gaming addition treatment camp.

The WHO has not endorsed any specific treatment for gaming disorder, but recommends that people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour.

One Response to “WHO includes gaming disorder as a new mental health condition”

  1. Celeste
    August 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm #

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