With the rise of technological advancements and how much the UAE has on it, you wouldn’t be surprised to know how much children and adults love ‘gaming’.

Although video games can be seen as a great leisure activity or a way to pass the time, most people nowadays dedicate their time and lives towards it. At this stage, many serious concerns raised from it. Can addiction to games or a gaming disorder actually be a mental illness?

What is Gaming Disorder?

gaming disorder

Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behaviour (video-gaming) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increased priority for gaming above other activities to the extent where gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, leading to negative consequences.

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In June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified obsessive gaming habits and compulsive behaviour when playing games is considered a mental disorder. Though some people find this offensive, it is not a matter the UAE should take lightly. The world health organization also stated that the pattern of compulsive gaming should be present for at least 12 months before it can be officially diagnosed as a disorder.

Symptoms of Gaming Disorder

gaming disorder

Identifying bad gaming habits is quite easy. But if you’re trying to identify if it is a disorder, you will need to assess symptoms in more exquisite detail. Symptoms can begin from early ages such as preteens, all the way into adulthood. Signs that someone may suffer from gaming disorder include:

  • Lacking self-control when regulating the game time
  • Inability to priorities important matters over gaming
  • Willingly accepting the consequences to continue playing
  • Lack of awareness in social settings or physical surroundings when playing
  • Difficulty focusing on work or education
  • Inability to engage in social, family and personal life

Signs that gaming is turning into a disorder can also include more serious mental health conditions below. Please note, if you or anyone suffers from the below mental health complications because of gaming or from other reasons, it is advisable to seek medical advice at first notice.

Mental health conditions that may develop as a result of the severity of gaming disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stress

Treating Gaming Disorder

gaming disorder

Although gaming disorder does not have medical treatments based around it, we can treat it as if we are treating addiction or mental health problems. Just like being addicted to substance abuse, gambling or junk food, we need to take lifestyle measures that can be incorporated into one’s daily life without shocking them or making it too complicated. Here are a few measures we can take in treating gaming disorder:

  • Find other hobbies – The reason why people become addicted to anything in the first place is that they feel the need to have it in their lives. By finding healthier, more positive and a variety of alternatives that can bring joy to the person is the best way for them to control their addiction towards gaming. Whether it be a sport, going to social events, or even learning a new hobby or interest.
  • Speak up – If you know you suffer from gaming disorder or addiction or someone who is, always speak up. Feelings of fear, rejection, resentment, and shame are the main reasons why people are unable to change bad habits. Try opening up about your feelings and your problems with someone you can trust or a professional psychologist or therapist.
  • Develop prioritization skills – Making small changes in your daily routine and schedule can help you to limit game time, as well as completing other more important tasks. It means you can control how much you play without sacrificing other aspects of your life. The best way to do this is to create a daily schedule you can follow that will predetermine your day.

Keep In Mind

gaming disorder

Though we have only explored the negative effects of gaming, it wouldn’t be fair to say that it doesn’t have its positives. Gaming can actually be an excellent way to socialize with others as well as having its educational benefits. Moderation is the key. Know how to moderate how much you play as well as restricting explicit and harmful content, is the best way to enjoy playing games without it disrupting your health and lifestyle.

Addiction is never an easy thing to overcome. In terms of games and every other thing people can get easily hooked on, prevention is the essential part. However, if addiction is setting in on yourself, or someone you know, you can always seek help. There are many helplines for addiction available. Speaking with a family or friend is also a good step. And don’t forget, you can never go wrong by seeking professional help from a psychologist or doctor.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.