Understanding Video Game Addiction: When Video Games Start To Control Your Life
For many people, video games are an enjoyable pastime that helps relieve stress and facilitate new social connections. Most people who regularly play video games are able to do so without developing addiction. However, it is believed that between 1 to 10% of players have a gambling addiction that interferes with their daily functioning.
Internet gaming disorder was listed in DSM-5 as a condition requiring further study. However, in 2018, the World Health Organization included gambling disorder in their International Classification of Diseases as a unique mental health problem. This diagnosis is defined by gambling patterns marked by loss of control, gambling beginning to take precedence over all other aspects of life and the inability to stop gambling despite negative consequences.
Researchers continue to develop new knowledge about video game addiction, compared to other behavioral addictions such as gambling. It has also been proven that there are similarities between video game addiction and drug addiction. As video games and addictive substances trigger the release of the chemical dopamine, they trigger similar changes in the brain that reinforce continued behavior.
Video game addiction has been shown to be significantly correlated with other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. For more information about these conditions and to get tested to determine if you have depression, anxiety, or ADHD, Click here.
Signs of video game addiction
Traffic signs that may indicate the presence of a gambling disorder include:
- Concern with gambling
- Inability to control the time spent playing
- Prioritize play over everything else (while neglecting school / work, relationships, etc.)
- Withdrawal symptoms when unable to play (such as irritability or anxiety)
- Lying about the time spent playing or playing in secret
- Isolation from others
- Loss of interest in other previously enjoyed activities
A key indication of gambling disorder is whether an individual feels powerless to stop gambling, despite its negative consequences on various areas of their life.
Effects of video game addiction
Video game addiction has the potential to impact all areas of life including work / school, relationships, and health. It is common for a person with a gambling addiction to experience a decline in their work or school performance as they spend their days playing instead of studying or meeting deadlines. It is also likely that an individual’s relationships will become strained due to their preoccupation with gambling as well as distress when they have to stray from gambling.
It is also possible that gambling addiction is having an impact physical health. An individual may sacrifice sleep, skip meals, or forgo exercise in order to continue playing. There is also a potential for developing physical problems such as eye strain, migraines, or carpal tunnel syndrome due to excessive gambling.
Seeking support for video game addiction
If you think you have any signs of video game addiction, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. It is very difficult to try to fight the addiction on your own because it takes more than willpower to stop the behavior. Professional treatment is needed to resolve the underlying issues contributing to addictive behavior.
Although specific treatment for gambling disorder is still ongoing, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be beneficial in reframing unnecessary thoughts. A therapist can help you identify the presence of depression or anxiety that may trigger the need to escape reality through video games. Recovery is possible for people addicted to video games, and there is hope that you can regain control of your life with the right treatment.
Marie Miguel has been an expert in writing and research for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is helping to expand and grow a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing the stigma associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target topics related to anxiety and depression.
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