Internet gaming and video game addiction is a well-known disorder that affects more and more people every year. It has been widely recognized as a real issue, with the World Health Organization recognizing “gaming disorder” in 2018.
Just playing video games, even if you play regularly, is not an addiction
Video game addiction is defined as gaming that affects your health, family, work or social life for more than 12 months. If you or your child has been a little involved with the latest release over the past few weeks or months, this doesn’t quite amount to a video game addiction.
What causes video game addiction?
Video games provide a great deal of motivation. They have many storylines, a learning curve, instant feedback, and unlimited possibilities. Every time someone plays, basically, anything can happen. Behaviorally speaking, the more positive reinforcement something has, the higher the potential for addiction. Video games activate the same reward pathway in the brain as substances we associate with diagnosable substance use disorders
Causes and triggers of video game addiction include:
- Addictive character
- Loneliness or neglect
- Boredom or lack of stimulation
- Desire to escape from reality
- Increase the amount of time spent playing
- Dealing with shock or extreme stress
- Having another diagnosable mental health condition or addiction
While playing video games provides temporary relief to the player, it only exacerbates the person’s problems in the long run.
Symptoms of gaming addiction
Playing video games crosses the line into an addiction when it proves to be detrimental to someone’s life and responsibilities. The main sign of video game addiction is frequent use of video games, often with other players, which leads to significant performance issues in daily life.
To qualify for Internet Gaming Disorder, five of these nine symptoms must occur within a year:
- Preoccupation or obsession with Internet games
- Withdrawal symptoms when not playing online games
- Tolerance buildup – more time is required to play games
- The person tried to stop or restrain the playing of Internet games but failed to do so
- The person has lost interest in other life activities, such as the hobbies
- The person continued to overuse Internet games even knowing how much it affected a person’s life
- A person lied to others about using online games
- A person uses online games to get rid of anxiety or guilt – it’s a way to escape
- A person has lost or lost an opportunity or relationship because of online games
Signs in adults
For adults, problematic play may intersect with childhood and adolescence. It may also begin as an escape from the everyday life. Now that a parent can no longer restrict use, someone may find themselves drawn towards play during any free moment. It may also serve as a mechanism for coping with stress, loneliness, substance abuse, etc. One of the main signs of addiction may be if someone finds that they are missing out on work to play video games.
Health risks of video game addiction
Any addiction comes with risks and health concerns. The greater the number and severity of risks and concerns present, the more significant the problem.
The risks and health concerns associated with video game addiction include things like:
Lack of social participation
Although there are opportunities for socializing almost through multiplayer games, the desire to mingle with others ends there. Players are gradually shifting towards a social life that revolves around gaming. If games are not the center of communication, then they have little or no value to them. Especially at younger ages, this hinders social development and undermines identity development.
The instant gratification that video games provide is something far from reality. Many things in life take time and also the effort. Although there are some skills in games that may require a learning curve and time, gratification often occurs quickly while playing. When this becomes an expectation in everyday life, it is difficult to pay proper attention to those things that require more concentration. Moreover, when not playing games, those who struggle with video game addiction constantly think about it, limiting their focus on anything else.
With so much time spent playing, the focus on everyday things like hygiene becomes compromised. What’s the point of taking a shower and fixing yourself up behind a gaming monitor all day? Over the time, lack of hygiene may contribute to mental health complications.
How Do You Treat Internet Gaming Disorder?
Like most mental health issues, nothing can be done until the underlying causes of the video game addiction are understood for the individual. We often recommend therapies such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) to assist in highlighting the real issues contributing to a video game addiction The treatment is enormously useful for determining the real underlying traumas affecting an individual.
Personality DisordersDisruptive patterns in mood, behavior, communication with others, and thinking in general can cause significant stress and inability to function.
Adult Eating DisordersAdult eating disorders are typically triggered by past trauma deriving from a single event or the accumulation of many small traumatic events.
Obsessive Compulsive & Related DisordersCharacterized by patters of unwanted fears and thoughts that lead to repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder interfere heavily with daily activities.
Somatic Symptom DisorderThe manifestation of physical symptoms due to mental trauma or illness is a serious matter. This includes the development of chronic pain leading to excessive levels of distress.
Social Communication DisorderSocial communication disorders affect a large number of people today and can be as simple as difficulties in managing eye contact, facial expressions and body language.
Internet Gaming DisorderMany underlying issues can contribute to internet addiction and gaming disorders, and identifying the underlying issues is the first step in addressing the disorder.
Adult Sleep-Wake DisordersIssues with sleep are one of the most common clinical problems we face, and can greatly affect the overall health, safety, and quality of life.
Adult Autism Spectrum DisorderTypical symptoms blamed on autism such as avoidance, hyper vigilance and reduced cognitive ability can also be hallmarks of chronic stress reactions to past trauma.
Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)EMDR Therapy is appropriate for adults wishing to treat Adult ADHD - the therapy is a treatment that helps you change your behavior by changing your troubling thought processes.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Mental Health Service Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee
As a licensed Mental Health Services Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee, I work with a variety of adult patients currently experiencing mental health issues. For most clients, I typically recommend both traditional therapies as well as innovative treatment methods like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. This type of treatment for mental health issues is safe, very effective and can change your life.
Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP
Licensed in Tennessee
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider & EMDR Therapist offering virtual telemedicine appointments throughout all of Tennessee.
Ask me about my experience & how I can help you address the challenges you are facing. Call me or text me at 615.330.2659.