Not all addictive behaviors are substance-related. Occasionally, they might involve too many hours on the couch. As BBC News reports, the World Health Organization (WHO) is considering adding gaming addiction to its list of mental health conditions for the first time in its upcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The ICD is "the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions," according to the WHO, the UN's public health agency. Used by doctors and scholars to identify and diagnose diseases, the ICD provides lists of symptoms and signs for various conditions.
The current edition of the ICD was completed in 1992, and the latest version will be published in 2018. A draft of this update lists symptoms of gaming addiction, including the inability to control one's gaming habits, increasingly prioritizing gaming over other activities, and either continuing to game or increasing one's hours spent gaming even after the all-consuming hobby yields negative consequences. It doesn't include prevention and treatment options yet, according to USA Today.
"In a number of countries, [excessive gaming] has become a significant public health concern," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević told CBC News. "There is increasing and well-documented evidence of clinical relevance of these conditions and increasing demand for treatment in different parts of the world."
The debate over video games is often a heated one. Some experts say they can enhance cognitive function and boost problem-solving abilities, while other researchers point out that that gamers have sedentary lifestyles and can experience mental health issues.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA), which published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V, in 2013, hasn't yet provided its own conclusion on gaming. In contrast with the latest ICD draft, the DSM-V classifies excessive internet gaming disorder as a "condition for further study."
[h/t BBC News]