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Gaming diehards could be diagnosed with mental health disorders, rules WHO

People who spend too much time playing computer games could be diagnosed with mental health conditions in the near future, according to new plans outlined by the World Health Organisation.

According to CNN, the organisation has included “gaming disorder” in a list of mental health conditions detailed in the draft of its International Classification of Diseases.

Those who suffer from the condition will tend to display a pattern of behaviour that’s “persistent or recurrent” and “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

Gaming diehards are likely to show signs of “impaired control” where they become immersed in games despite the “escalation” of “negative consequences”.

The guidance stipulates that gamers can typically be diagnosed with this condition if they suffer from symptoms “over a period of at least 12 months”. Health professionals are responsible for making a diagnosis.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, explained that his organisation has only provided a “clinical description” rather than “prevention and treatment options.

He believes that the condition should be recognised worldwide, saying that the ICD is crucial for identifying “health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions”.

Talking about its Classification of Diseases, he said “it is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions”.

He added: “Inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when making decisions on provision of health care and allocation of resources for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.”

The list is aimed at helping scientists and hospitals better communicate, and provides health care professionals with the ability to identify new disorders. Used by more than 100 countries globally, the next list will be published by May.

When the list reaches publication, doctors will have a framework to diagnose “gaming disorder”. But again, there’s no word on suitable treatments.

Chris Ferguson, a professor of psychology from Florida’s Stetson University in Florida, commended the WHO’s decision in a statement to CNN.

He said: “People who have treatment centers for video game addiction or a gaming disorder will now be able to get reimbursed. In the past, they have not. It will be a financial boon for those centers.”

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