Video game addiction could be recognized as mental disorder in 2018

Video game addiction could be recognized as mental disorder in 2018

Changes could be coming to how video game addiction is treated. The World Health Organization has listed it as a mental disorder in their 2018 draft of its International Classification of Diseases.

"I don't necessarily think it's a mark against video games," said Katie McGuigan.

Video gaming is not only McGuigan's passion, it is also her career. She and her fiancé, Kevin Brancati, opened Video Game Trading Post on Plantation Road earlier this year. Easy to say gaming is a big part of her life. However, she said there has to be a limit or it can turn into a problem.

"It can definitely lead to that," McGuigan said. "I can see that especially because video games are that specific kind of medium where you're not just passively watching it or reading it. You are involved in it."

Gaming addiction is not a new topic, but it has never been recognized as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization until now. The organization defines it as a pattern of persistent behavior manifested by impaired control, loss of interest in daily activities and escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

David Zimmerman, a counselor at Piedmont Place Health and Wellness, said he often treats patients for video game addiction, but it usually is an underlying issue of a bigger problem. He said with the new classification, counselors and doctors can look at video game addiction on its own and treat it. He said it is very similar to gambling addiction.

"A lot of it has to do with finding better outlets, more appropriate things and getting to the bottom of kind of what is behind it, why they need this escape, why they're looking for something like this," Zimmerman explained.

Zimmerman said it is not just children and teenagers he counsels for video game addiction. In fact, he said many are adults who he sees in couple's therapy.

"When people start missing work, setting aside relationships, letting other things in their life fall to the wayside is usually when it becomes a problem," Zimmerman said.

He said it is all about balance and setting a healthy limit.

McGuigan agreed.

"It's going to cause issues just like anything might," she said. "It's just a matter of being on top of it and watching out for your friends and family."

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