Do You Have a Gaming Disorder?

Reviewed by Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Published 01/15/2021

The video game industry has become one of the largest in the world. It rakes in billions of dollars each year, and many think that video games are among the most interesting types of entertainment in the world. If you’re an avid gamer, then you likely appreciate just how far games have come since the days of Pong and Pac-Man. Video games were very addictive back then, and some say that they’re much more addictive now. Overall, video games are great, and they’re a good way for people to have fun while unwinding. However, it’s also possible to get addicted to video games, and you could develop a gaming disorder.

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How can you tell if you have a gaming disorder, though? What’s the difference between being a video game enthusiast and being someone outright addicting to gaming? Read on to get more information about the gaming mental disorder and what you can do about it if you have it. Understand that this isn’t an attack on video games because some people have addiction problems. Gaming disorder might not sound serious to some, but it can upend your life if you cannot get things under control.

What Is A Gaming Disorder?

A gaming disorder is very similar to any other type of addiction that you will find. When someone has a gamer disorder, they’re going to feel so compelled to play video games that they will do so to the detriment of their physical and mental well-being. There have been documented cases of some people having gaming addictions so bad that they have died from playing too long without resting or eating. When someone is so absorbed by gaming, it makes it so that other things in the world don’t matter nearly as much as the game that they’re obsessed with.

Normal gamers who enjoy playing games as a hobby might spend a lot of free time playing video games. However, they’re able to recognize that they need to stop playing at some point. They know that they have to go to sleep at a reasonable hour because they have to work or handle other responsibilities. Those who have an internet gaming addiction might ignore responsibilities because they can’t help but keep playing. It’s not too different from a drug addict who keeps looking for another score. This might sound silly to some, but doing anything too much can be detrimental to your health.

Signs Of Gaming Addiction

There are some signs of gaming addiction that you should look out for. Have you ever stayed home to play a video game even though you knew that you needed to go to work? Do you often ignore your friends and family for the sake of continuing to play a video game? Do you sometimes have trouble sleeping because you want to get back up to start playing your game again? If you’re this compelled to play video games at all hours, you likely have at least some type of gaming addiction.

People who are addicted to video games have a hard time thinking about anything else. It’s different than just being a big fan who likes to talk about games with friends. This is when video games take over your life and dominate it while leaving room for nothing else. It can cause your relationships to deteriorate, and it can also negatively impact your professional life. Some people with gaming addictions have even lost their jobs or flunked out of school due to how much they’re addicted to games.

Gaming Addiction And Depression

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Gaming addiction and depression can also go hand-in-hand in certain ways. For instance, studies have shown that addicted to video games are more likely to experience depression or anxiety symptoms. Do video games cause depression? That’s not necessarily the case, but those addicted to video games can often be more likely to deal with depression. Video games, when enjoyed responsibly, can be beneficial to your mental health. Some people even use video games as a way to socialize with others. Playing too much and becoming completely addicted can lead to several mental health problems, though.

If you feel like you might be addicted to video games, you might be looking to help. You might notice depression symptoms in yourself and get worried about what can be done to fix things. Taking this depression test is a good way to determine whether you’re experiencing depression or not. Many people are unsure, and this simple test makes it easier to come to terms with whether you’re depressed or not. If you are dealing with depression, you can make an appointment with your doctor to help.

Video game addiction has also been associated with social anxiety in many circles. Some people deal with social anxiety to a high degree, and they turn to activities such as video games to make themselves feel better. As mentioned earlier, video games can be a very positive social tool, but they can also lead to further problems when people become addicted. Becoming addicted to anything can lead to bad results, but video games can be particularly problematic for your physical health and mental well-being.

How To Treat Video Game Addiction

Treating video game addiction involves learning how to replace video games with other activities. Typically, people will start by treating the other mental health conditions that they’re experiencing, though. For example, you might be experience depression or extreme social anxiety. You can work with a doctor to understand your mental health issues to develop a treatment plan. Various medication types can help people with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and various types of depression.

Aside from medications, it’s also possible to treat these issues using therapy. Doctors will often refer to people who are struggling with addiction to therapists who understand how to help. A professional therapist can help you to come to terms with what you’re going through. It can take a lot of effort to break away from particularly strong gaming addiction. Is gaming an addiction that is the same as drug addiction? Not entirely, but the two are more similar than you might think.

Any addiction can be effectively treated using therapy. This doesn’t mean that it will be easy, though, since you’ll likely experience some withdrawal while weaning yourself off of video games. People who are very addicted to video games can’t simply continue to play them, or they will get caught in the cycle again. That is why most experts recommend abstaining from games so that you can recover and get your life back to normal.

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Can You Ever Play Video Games Again?

If you are truly addicted to video games, it’s likely to be recommended that you stop playing them completely. If video games ruin your life by causing you to ruin your job or lose your marriage, then you know that video games are like playing with fire for you. Deciding to play just a little bit could be similar to being an alcoholic and trying to drink just one beer. It might sound harsh, but those who have overcome video game addiction are likely better off finding other hobbies outside of video games moving forward.

Follow the advice of your therapist and your doctor so that you can get your life on track. You ultimately make the decisions in your life, but it’s good to appreciate the input of experts who care about your well-being. If you’re able to start turning things around without video games in your life, then that is truly going to be a great thing. Not everybody who gets addicted to things gets a chance at redemption. This is something that has taken lives due to how strong the addiction can get.

Most People Aren’t Video Game Addicts

If you’re looking at an article like this to try to figure out if a loved one is addicted to video games, then you should know that the vast majority of people aren’t video game addicts. Video game addiction is very serious, but only a very small percentage of people get truly addicted to it to such a degree. Even if your loved one seems to devote a lot of time to playing video games, that isn’t necessarily an indication that they’re addicted to them.

Have you ever considered how much time you spend watching shows on your favorite streaming service? How about the time that you spend reading novels or scrolling through social media feeds? People can spend a substantial amount of time playing video games each day without it being an addiction. It’s just an entertainment medium like any other. The only difference is that this type of entertainment is highly interactive, and it can sometimes become competitive. It’s good to watch out for your loved ones to ensure that they don’t get addicted to things, but it’s also important not to judge people for the things that they love.