Video game addiction is now officially recognised as an illness

Director of WHO's Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Shekhar Saxena, describes some of the warning signs of addictive Gaming behavior. Researchers across the world use it as reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions.

"Disorders due to addictive behaviours are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances", writes the WHO. Homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder in 1948, but was removed from the ICD in the 1970s.

In its latest revision to a disease classification manual called the International Classification of Diseases, or I.C.D., the United Nations health agency explains the change and why it has (finally) removed the transgender mental disorder classification.

The organization now considers gender dysphoria to be a "sexual health" condition. These games are commonly played on electronic and video devices.

Obviously games companies have a vested interest in not equating video games with drink, drugs, and gambling but they are right in that there is both a lack of consensus and detailed study into the issue. However, the DSM falls short of declaring gaming addiction a legitimate disorder.

Separately, the WHO listed "hazardous gaming", which is when a pattern of gaming "appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to this individual or others around this individual".

"Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders", the World Health Organization said in a statement.

It may be continuous or episodic and recurrent, but the aspects of the disorder are usually evident for at least 12 months in order to necessitate a diagnosis.

The games industry raked in $108-billion dollars (R1.4-trillion) worldwide in 2017, more than double movie box-office receipts, according to Superdata, which tracks the games and interactive media sector.

Member states are expected to vote on the document at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2019. "It's a little bit premature to label this as a diagnosis", Bean said. For example, if they stop socializing with people or going to work. Much like any other kind of addiction, they find it impossible to resist the urge to play games or to stop after they have been playing for more than what many would consider being a healthy period of time.

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