Gaming Disorder Will Be Classified As Mental Illness

Perils of Videogaming

The World Health Organisation is classifying gaming disorder as a mental health condition. The International Classification of Diseases is a diagnostic manual the WHO publishes. It was last published in 1990 and will be re-published in 2018. The book will outline the criteria to determine whether someone should be classified as having the disorder.

“Health professionals need to recognise that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences,” it said. 

“Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects,” said Vladimir Poznyak, member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

We spoke to a few gamers and a therapist on whether they think the classification of gaming disorder as a mental illness is justified.

Nikhita Sanotra, who works with White Swan Foundation for Mental Health, and is also a gamer, says anything in excess can be addictive.

“Anything you do in excess can turn into an addiction. A big section of gamers do not monitor their gaming time and become addicted. They do this to escape reality, just like a drug addict would do. 

“I’ve read that in China, there are gaming rehab centres, where people send their kids to live without technology for months. So gaming addiction is absolutely real. It can have consequences like health issues, eyesight-related problems, relationship problems, social interaction and more,” she tells SheThePeople.TV

Making it a disorder moves it into a category where it feels like one is inherently disabled: Ameeta Sanghavi Shah

Qualms about the classification

“One wonders at this classification as so much more of media has become addictive too. Addiction is defined as anything taking precedence over life interests, causing health problems,” Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, Soul, Mind, Body and Relationship Therapist, tells SheThePeople.TV 

“Making it a disorder makes it move into the category where it feels like one is inherently disabled and that this is not a choice. I therefore prefer it to be called a dysfunctional learnt pattern that is less alarming. This allows individuals to take responsibility for unlearning.”

Another worry is that such disorder classifications, that remain slightly ambiguous, can lead to overdiagnosis and over medication.

How is it diagnosed?

The American Psychiatric Association has also created a list of nine symptoms that could determine gaming disorder. These include antisocial behaviour and anxiety. According to the WHO, gaming is more than a hobby when you are unable to control how often you play and can’t seem to stop. The behaviour must persist for a year in order to be diagnosed. However, in severe cases, the diagnosis will be shortened.

Also Read: Dark Side Of Online Gaming: Women Keep Identity Hidden To Avoid Abuse