Gaming disorder is a mental health condition

How can naming gaming disorder as a mental health condition help those affected?
20 December 2019

Interview with 

Louise Theodosiou, Royal College of Psychiatrists


mental health


In 2018, the World Health Organisation included gaming disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. To find out what this inclusion means, and how defining gaming disorder as a mental health condition could help problem gamers, The Naked Scientists show spoke to consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Louise Theodosiou from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is part of an interview originally aired on The Naked Scientists show in July 2018...

Louise - What gaming disorder from the World Health Organisation talks about, is about people who have a pattern of gaming where they’re losing control of their gaming. They’re giving increased priority to gaming and carrying on despite negative consequences. And one of the things that WHO emphasises is the fact that, actually, there’s an impact on people’s lives. Kids are struggling with their education, they’re not maintaining enough sleep, there is an impact on how healthy they are and their social interactions in the real world are suffering. So it’s about that impact on life and about the fact that this is carrying on for over 12 months, so we’re looking to see that impact and that narrowing of behaviour.

One of the brilliant things about the announcement is that we’re now starting to have a clear definition that will mean that we can focus our research more clearly. The American diagnostic system has had a slightly different definition, but a very similar condition: internet gaming, as an area of concern for about five years. And if we look at the literature we can see that there has been an increasing body of literature developing for almost 20 years now. So that situation of problematic internet use, and problematic gaming use has been around and is gathering momentum and I think that’s what makes this announcement so important.


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