Gaming addiction

Gaming addiction: Symptoms and treatment

Gaming addiction has been listed as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization. Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) included the condition “gaming disorder”. Described as a pattern of gaming behaviour (digital-gaming or video-gaming) characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months. Psychiatrist Dr Sagar Mundada  lists the warning signs to look out for and the treatment to address it.

Signs of gaming addiction you should be aware of

To classify an individual’s addiction to playing games as a gaming disorder, one needs to look at the severity and the negative impact it is having on the individual’s life. Here are some warning signs one needs to be cautious about.

  • Lack of focus and concentration

The individual finds it hard to concentrate on anything. This especially happens at the time when the gamer would be engrossed playing a game. If unable to do so, he or she finds it impossible to engage with another activity during that time slot.

  • Will be irritable and aggressive

Not being able to play the game is likely to affect the individual’s mood. He or she is will be irritable throughout the day.

  • Acting on impulse may indulge in risky behaviour

As the urge to play this game is strong, he or she is likely to explore  illegal ways to access the game, and play it.

  • Lack of sleep leading to restlessness

They find themselves being unable to sleep. As a result they are restless, can’t concentrate and do anything productive.

Treatment for this mental illness

There is no wonder drug to treat gaming addiction. The treatment is symptomatic. A mental health expert may use medication in the initial stages of withdrawal to relax the individual, to relieve anxiety or to treat depression, and to make any apprehensions go away. The symptomatic treatment varies from person to person. Medication can help relieve symptoms. Once the person is more relaxed, the mental health expert could also follow this up with Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

During CBT, the mental health expert will try to work on the individual’s thought process and try to correct it. If the individual feels he or she cannot function without playing a particular game, the expert will try and question that belief, and also make him or her understand that there are other avenues to keep him or her occupied and engaged. The mental health expert will also independently try to investigate if the patient is suffering from any personality disorder, and will use behavioural and therapeutic techniques to address these issues.