Diagnosing Video Game Addiction
Because there is no technical diagnosis of video game addiction in the medical community, there is no specific prescribed treatment. Treatment for video game addiction will be focused on determining any underlying problem that leads to excessive gaming. An official diagnosis then becomes whatever the underlying cause happens to be.
Learn More About Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Treatment Options
Generally, video game addiction falls under one of the following:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- These are characterized by an inability to control behavior, even when patients agree there are harmful consequences. Obsession is a component of all addictions and is demonstrated by an unhealthy focus on video games.
- While we all have activities that refresh us and allow us to escape from life’s daily grind, an addict overuses the escape video games provide. They are able to ignore difficulties and replace real life troubles with fantasy. This may show up as a failure to form social relationships outside of the game environment.
- One of the classic reasons people become immersed in fantasy is to self-treat depression. The action and goal achievement in video games is rewarding to them and provides an emotional boost. Unfortunately, failure at some game task may promote depression.
- Engagement disorder
- This is a difficulty in connecting with real life. Related to escapism, it shows up as an inappropriate importance put on video games. Self-worth becomes expressed in game terms instead of outside activities. The patient has difficulty engaging with their ‘normal’ life, finding it dull.
All of these diagnoses require a trained professional’s evaluation. Loved ones may suspect a video game addiction because of the amount of time and emotional commitment a player demonstrates, but without testing, the label of "addict" should be used carefully. Too often it is applied inappropriately and does nothing to help.
Indications that video games might be a problem
- Excessive time spent playing
- Alterations in normal schedule and sleep patterns to free up time to play; avoidance of other activities that were once pleasurable; dropping friends and relationships in favor of game playing.
- Financial commitments
- Making unsound financial commitments based on video/computer games can become a serious problem. This can be in the form of paid memberships, better equipment, a faster internet connection, or even purchasing virtual goods to improve standings.
- Lying in order to play
- This includes lying about the actual amount of time spent playing and lying about other, non-game tasks.
- Playing in response to stress.
- Extreme reaction to the idea that perhaps game playing is become excessive; defensiveness when the subject is mentioned.