Compulsive video-game playing now new mental health problem

"Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder", he said, adding that the overall prevalence of this condition is "very low".

The ICD is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD classifications. This document defines all known diseases, disorders, injuries, and related health conditions. This is huge because WHO's disease manual is the global standard for defining and reporting diseases and health conditions that exist globally.

Addictive behavior around gaming can be treated with conselling or psychotherapy, including 12 step prgrams. "However, their prevalence has been increasing to such an alarming degree that we welcome the official World Health Organization recognition as it can help propel further research and provision of services". Those who partake in gaming should be aware of time spent on gaming activity when it excludes other daily activities.

It is listed under the "Mental, behavioural or neurodevelopmental disorders" category and the "Disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors" subcategory.

The latest version of the ICD was released on Monday to include the condition - which is characterised by "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour which may be online or offline". The behavior has to be serious enough that it gets in the way of family, social, education or occupational parts of one's life and normally emerges over a period of a year, though it can come sooner.

"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he noted.

As far as insurance coverage goes, that's still up to authorities - the ICD has no power over those decisions.

Still, not all medical officials believe gaming disorder is a stand alone condition. Video games interfering with work, Education, social life or family time is another sign of a gaming disorder.

UKIE already has their own FAQ up about the issue, which explains the controversy and the genuine disagreement in academic circles as to whether gaming addiction counts as a separate disorder.

While there are no medications to address the disorder, treating co-occuring psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety can help people overcome it, he explained.

The WHO hopes its inclusion in the ICD will stimulate debate as well as further research and worldwide collaboration.

  • Santos West