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WHO Says ‘Gaming Disorder’ is now a Mental Health Condition

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The World Health Organization has issued a massive wake-up call for parents in developed nations: gaming is addictive. The announcement gives credence to what many parents have felt for years. Now there’s an official diagnosis available for those who fell like their loved ones may be just a bit–too-attached to their video games.

“The World Health Organization announced “gaming disorder” as a new mental health condition included in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases, released Monday,” CNN writes.

“I’m not creating a precedent,” Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, announced.

He doesn’t feel like the WHO is leading the charge against games, but simply following “the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field.”

“A diagnosis standard,” CNN notes, “the ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions. Researchers use it to count deaths, diseases, injuries and symptoms, and doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions. In many cases, health care companies and insurers use the ICD as a basis for reimbursement.”

With this new tool, health care professionals have a resource available to begin conversations about treatment for gamers who find it hard to be away from their games.

Now, Poznyak says, doctors can be “alerted to the existence of this condition” and that awareness allows them to be taken seriously. As a result, “people who suffer from these conditions can get appropriate help.”

“One is that the gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery,” he added.

The addiction creates, as he says, “impaired control of these behaviors.”

“Even when the negative consequences occur, this behavior continues or escalates.”This escalation has been evinced in lack of sleep, loss of appetite, increased aggression.

“It cannot be just an episode of few hours or few days,” Poznyak adds. These patterns need to play out over a year to qualify.

“Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder,” Poznyak said. “And let me emphasize that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that.”

It remains unclear how best to treat the issue. Poznyak suggests a treatment plan “based on the principles and methods of cognitive behavioral therapy. ” He advocates “psychosocial interventions: social support, understanding of the conditions, family support.”