This article may be helpful if you:
- Think you (or someone you know) may have a gaming addiction
- Are looking for the causes and effects of gaming addiction
- Are looking for treatment for gaming addiction
Are you concerned that you or someone you know may be addicted to video gaming? Here’s what you need to know about gaming addiction and how it can be treated.
Video gaming addiction is a condition where gamers struggle to exercise control over their gaming habits. This can result in negative consequences in many areas of their life, including self-care, relationships, school and work. Today, video game addiction is becoming a considerable concern for parents because games and often are targeted towards children.
WATCH: Gaming Addiction Signs & Treatment with Peter Hayton (Clinical Director & Senior Psychologist at The Banyans Healthcare Group).
What is Gaming Addiction?
In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined gaming disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behaviour characterised by impaired control over gaming. This includes prioritising gaming over interests and daily activities and continuing gaming despite negative consequences.
Usually for a diagnosis of gaming disorder to be made, the person must exhibit severe gaming behavioural patterns that significantly disrupt personal life, family life, school or work over a period of 12 months. Typically, game addicts spend at least eight-ten hours a day on the computer and thirty or more hours per week. If the person is not allowed to use a computer, they may get restless and angry, and they may also go for long periods without food or sleep.
A large study on the prevalence of gaming addiction suggested that 1.4% of video gamers may have an addiction or dependency to gaming. Of these participants, adolescent males appeared to be more at risk of developing an addiction to gaming. However, treating professionals report that females are still susceptible to the issues. While the video gaming industry shows no signs of slowing down (the value of the U.S video game market now reaching $90 billion), it is interesting to note that only a relatively small percentage of gamers go on to develop an addiction or dependency.
Is Gaming Addiction Really an Addiction?
Currently, the classification of video gaming addiction is controversial amongst researchers. Some believe it should be classified as a “behavioural addiction” (like gambling addiction). Similarly, the lure of gaming and gambling is winning, which causes a release of neurochemicals like dopamine (also released with drug addictions). Some researchers argue that winning in gaming requires cognitive skill and coordination, as opposed to luck with gambling. Many gamers and parents may also debate that gaming provides many positive effects, including; expanding the imagination, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.
While the World Health Organisation does define gaming disorder, the DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a guide for psychiatric disorders), defines gaming disorder as a condition for further study. However, it also states the similarity between gaming addiction and substance addiction – including tolerance, withdrawal, repeated unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit, and impairment in normal functioning.
Signs of Video Gaming Addiction
It can be challenging to identify gaming addiction as the person may appear very passionate about gaming as an interest. According to the DSM-5, there are several signs that someone may be a games addict.
• Preoccupation with gaming. Thinking about gaming all the time, even when you’re not playing. Gaming has become the dominant activity in daily life.
• Withdrawal symptoms. The person may become irritable, angry, or sad when gaming is taken away.
• Tolerance – the need to spend increasing amounts of time playing video games.
• Unsuccessful attempts to control video game use
• Loss of interest in previous hobbies and entertainment with the exception of video games.
• Continued excessive use of video games despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
• Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of video gaming.
• Use of video games to escape or relieve a negative mood (e.g., feelings of helpless¬ness, guilt, anxiety).
• Has risked or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in video games.
Medically speaking, any activity or habit that becomes all-consuming and starts to have negative consequences on your daily routine can lead to significant mental, social, and physical health problems. If you think your video game habits might be starting to take over control of your life, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
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What are the Causes of Gaming Addiction?
There are several theories on what causes gaming addiction, these include:
Some experts believe that gaming addiction may be caused by changes in the brain. For example, gaming triggering the release of dopamine, a chemical that is associated with pleasure and reward.
Gaming may be a way to escape from difficult or painful emotions. It may also be a way to cope with anxiety or stress.
Gaming addiction may be more common in people who lack social support or don’t have strong social connections.
Other conditions found to be associated with gaming addiction include major depressive disorder, ADHD, and OCD.
The Negative Effects of Video Gaming
Serious consequences can result for those preoccupied with gaming for extended periods, including; failure at school, the loss of a job, or the breakdown of relationships. Similarly, with other addictions, the gaming behaviour pattern may cause negative disruptions in the person’s life. These are some of the common effects reported for those with a gaming addiction.
• Poorer mental health and cognitive functioning, including depression, anxiety, ADHD or OCD
• More lacking social skills and feelings of social isolation
• Difficulty paying attention in other areas of life
• Problems with internet pornography use
• Children under ten may experience aggressive thoughts or behaviour
• The younger the child, the more likely they are to develop a dependency
• Postural deviations (Body and physiotherapy concerns)
• Lack of hygiene or personal care
• Neglect of family responsibilities
• Declining grades or failure at school
• Problems with sleep, weight and heart health
Mild addiction is easier to treat than a prolonged addiction. If you think you, or a loved one, may present these signs of gaming addiction, we recommend seeking treatment sooner rather than later.
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Treatment for Video Gaming Addiction with The Banyans
Prolonged video game use can cause physical changes to the brain that are challenging to reverse without treatment. Recovery from video gaming addiction can be difficult but not impossible. As with any addiction, it’s always better to reach out for professional help sooner rather than later if you think you may be struggling with an addiction.
The Banyans offer world-class addiction and mental health programs utilising a multidisciplinary, holistic approach highly effective for achieving long-term results. Our video game addiction program is personally customised to help guests identify the underlying drivers of their experience with video games and how best to manage their recreational behaviour in the future. This is achieved through strong therapeutic relationships with various professionals and collaborative treatment modalities spanning medical support, emotional and psychological therapies, nutrition and physical exercise. In addition to identifying and resolving underlying drivers of addictive video-game behaviours, treating professionals will also equip guests with the practical tools required for management and recovery.
Skills can be learned from cognitive-behaviour therapy, brain spotting, meditation, yoga and more. A very effective method to relieve addictive urges is to divert attention towards other physically active behaviours. Regular physical therapies like personal training, yoga, swimming and massage therapy can assist in recovery and create more positive habits. A therapeutic program at The Banyans aims to help guests achieve long-lasting change that can be maintained once they return to everyday life. The post-program support component of each bespoke program assists guests by providing ongoing support and encouragement as they continue their recovery journey at home.
To find out more about The Banyans programs for video gaming addiction treatment, speak to our expert team anytime by calling 1300 226 926. Alternatively, complete the enquiry form below, and we can contact you for a confidential discussion.
If you think you, or someone you know, might be a games addict, seek treatment sooner rather than later. Reaching out for help is nothing short of brave. With the right support, you can overcome gaming addiction and live a healthy, happy life.
This article was reviewed by Peter Hayton, Clinical Director & Senior Psychologist at The Banyans Healthcare Group.
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