Video game addiction will appear in DSM-5 as Internet Gaming Disorder
By Dr. Brent Conrad
After years of speculation, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has confirmed that the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) contains the category “Internet Gaming Disorder”.
Upon releasing this latest version of the DSM, APA stated:
“Professionals from the mental health and medical communities, patients and their families, and members of the public have had a strong voice in DSM-5 up to this point, and we hope to continue this dialogue over the coming years.”
This collaboration with mental health agencies, psychologists, psychiatrists, and patients has resulted in a dramatic overhaul of the diagnostic system, the removal of certain outdated classifications, and the first time addition of new diagnoses and disorders - including Internet Gaming Disorder (commonly referred to as video game addiction).
Internet Gaming Disorder appears in the DSM-5 in Section III as a condition that is not yet classified as a formal disorder, but warrants additional clinical research and study.
As is obvious from its name, Internet Gaming Disorder is focuses on gamers who have an unhealthy preoccupation with online video games - regardless of whether they are played on computers, consoles, or mobile devices.
The decision to focus on the online gaming experience was based on growing evidence that compulsive use of video games is most likely to be an issue for those who play online. In the press release, APA refers to research suggesting that those with Internet Gaming Disorder:
Compulsively play computer or video games online while ignoring other interests
Experience clinically significant impairment or distress as a result of excessive Internet gaming
Experience a significant negative impact on their academic or work performance due to the amount of time they spend playing online video or computer games
Experience symptoms of withdrawal if they are not able to access online games
The press release also implies that the decision to include Internet Gaming Disorder in the DSM-5 was partially influenced by research suggesting that the brains of gamers who are deeply engrossed with their favorite game show similar patterns to those of drug addicts. It suggests that for addicted gamers, online computer games may trigger a neurological response that affects certain pleasure centres of the brain - which reinforces continued and excessive gaming.
The new classification of Internet Gaming Disorder in DSM-5 does not apply to individuals who spend too much time on the Internet in general, experience problems related to online gaming, or who may be “addicted” to online social media such as Facebook.
APA anticipates that the addition of Internet Gaming Disorder to DSM-5 will encourage more research on this emerging mental health condition.
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