Gaming addiction listed as mental health disorder by WHO

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The WHO Nomenclature Regulations, adopted in 1967, stipulated that Member States use the most current ICD revision for mortality and morbidity statistics.

The "disorder" was added to the WHO's 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD), in its first update since 1992.

The guide contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms and is used by doctors and researchers to track and diagnose disease. They also include the counting of deaths as well as diseases, injuries, symptoms, reasons for encounter, factors that influence health status, and external causes of disease.

Many psychiatrists refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition of which was published in 2013.

Internet gaming disorder is "totally different" from the gaming disorder proposed by World Health Organization, said Ferguson, and this "reflects the confusion".

But he added that he would have sympathy for those who do not think the condition should be medicalised.

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Many, including the United Kingdom, have private addiction clinics to "treat" the condition. "Children's grades drop as they game more and more", Gentile said. "That's 3 million today taking serious damage to their lives because of the way they play", Gentile said.

"Gaming disorder is a relatively new concept and epidemiological data at the population level are yet to be generated", he said. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than two billion people around the world enjoy video games. For instance, studies show that gaming disorder tends to be unstable - if you test someone twice, six months apart, the second test shows no disorder. A 2011 study from the University of Bergen in Norway suggested that excessive gaming could lead to anxiety and depression.

But video-game addiction is a much-disputed concept, with a number of clinical studies throwing doubt on the connection between games and mental health. But Ferguson argued that, if it is a disorder, it seems to be very rare.

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It said consumers of video games in South Africa are increasingly diverse. "Why not just have a general behavioral addiction category that can apply to anything that people overdo?"

But the World Health Organization spokesman cautioned that it was premature to speculate on the scope of the problem.

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