The term ‘video game’ means heaven to a lot of people. Playing video games provides a happy and thrilling experience that cannot be matched elsewhere, even without winning any cash. They can be all fun and great until it becomes something you cannot do without. This is called video game addiction, which is now treatable on the NHS. Some games (Fortnite and FIFA as prime examples) are highly addictive and have had reports of people having psychological and family breakdowns from spending long hours focused on such a game.
Recognising the Symptoms
Video game addiction might seem like a joke to many, but sufferers can tell that this medical disorder affects their everyday life. Similar to other compulsive disorder (such as gambling addiction), gaming disorder is as serious as the amount of time spent on gaming.
Symptoms of a Video Game Addiction:
- Constantly thinks about gaming
- Physical and psychological effects i.e. start losing or gaining weight exponentially and lacking sleep
- Dishonest to conceal gambling habits
- Jeopardizes significant relationships to gamble
- Relies on financial bailouts from family, friends or others to pay off debts
- Fails to control or stop gambling
Meanwhile, dopamine—the brain chemical that makes us happy—is often linked to video game addiction. Many researchers believe that game points are the main cause of gaming disorder. Either knowing or not knowing how to earn points is engaging and the unpredictable happiness of eventually earning them is caused by dopamine.
In July 2018, WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) pronounced video game addiction (officially ‘gaming disorder’) as a medical disorder. As stated earlier, it is now treatable on the NHS. However, diagnoses are only possible after 12 (or more) months of symptoms and negative effects. Studies from WHO scientist Dr Vladimir Poznyak has discovered that 1-6% of the 2.6 billion youths around the world suffer from video game addiction.
On that note, countries like South Korea and China have been taking measures to fight video game addiction far before it became treatable on the NHS. South Korea has banned children in the country—those who are under 16 years old—from playing any online game from 12 midnight through to 6 am.
Japanese game developers have also put a warning in their games to alert players when they get to a certain limit per month. The regulation is already trending, and software, awareness and ways to avoid video game addiction are already being put in place.
As of now, treatments vary and none is standard—even as it is treatable on the NHS. Like most addictions, psychotherapy is a go-to approach with successful results. Consultation is done by an expert, trained in psychology or psychiatry, who would help sufferers find happiness without gaming and also help with any other mental health-related concerns like depression.
Even though there are no specific medications yet, antidepressants, opioids and similar drugs have been used to treat other addictions and might help treat video game addiction.
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