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Do you love playing video games, or are you addicted to them? Playing video games for leisure and getting addicted are two different things. However, many gamers are unaware they are experiencing video game addiction. There are two reasons for this: you can be in denial or unaware of gaming addiction.

With the easy access to video games these days, be it with a PS5, Xbox, or your phone, it is tempting to get hooked easily. When do you consider yourself a video game addict? Read further to learn if you have a gaming addiction and how to get help.

What Is Video Game Addiction?

It may be more serious than you think. The World Health Organization has defined gaming as a ‘Game Disorder’ or Gaming Disorder under its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It is spending too much time playing video games even though the gamer is already experiencing negative effects.

Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes, and Effects

Video gaming addiction is recognized by various groups, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), as a condition. Research shows that 6–15% of gamers are addicted to video games, affecting their daily lives and relationships.

Addiction to video games can have a serious cost to people who have it, but their symptoms can occasionally be difficult to spot. Video game addiction in America can affect many people.

A person with video game addiction:
  • Does not know when to stop
  • Is preoccupied with video games
  • Has trouble with daily functioning
  • Is prioritizing gaming over anything else
  • Is unable to cut back on time spent playing games

What Causes Video Game Addiction?

Video gaming happens to be very addictive to the point that if you get hooked, your daily life gets affected. The gaming experience can lead to the production of dopamine as it gives you intense experiences, and if the stimulator is overexcited, it can cause structural changes. This feeling is addictive.

Also, the fact that gaming companies designed these games as ‘levels’ make you keep on playing unless you play the whole game. Furthermore, gaming gives you a world of your own wherein you are safe and in control, as it is your escape from reality. Even the graphics, sounds, and sequels of these games makes the experience more addictive.

Warning Signs of Video Game Addiction

According to The American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are nine signs to watch out for to recognize gaming addiction disorder. These can be helpful to understand better the seriousness of the situation of video game addiction.

  • They are preoccupied with playing video games. The gamer can’t stop thinking about the previous or recent gaming activity. Also, they get restless and can’t wait to play the video game. They play video games for the most part of the day and are unable to finish more important tasks (e.g., household chores or schoolwork)
  • They experience withdrawal symptoms if they are taken away from or are unable to play video games. Gaming addicts may experience Irritability, restlessness, anxiety, depression, boredom, and cravings.
  • They tolerate the urge to allocate more time for video games
  • They lack the discipline and control to stop playing video games/
  • They lose interest in healthy hobbies enjoyed before. The only thing they are interested in is playing video games.
  • They continuously play video games despite mental, physical, and physiological health disorders.
  • Gaming addicts deceive other people like friends, therapists, and family members regarding their video game addiction.
  • They resort to video games as an escape from reality.
  • They have relationship problems due to their video game addiction.

Negative Effects of Video Game Addiction

Gaming addiction is considered a psychological disorder that results in heavy psychological damage. Gaming for a minimum of 10 and up to 15 hours a day is common among addicts.

Normally during the day, many gaming addicts are sleep deprived. Some gamers may have agoraphobia, a phobia or type of anxiety disorder that makes them fear open spaces and not want to leave the house. Gaming addicts also tend to be irritable, moody, cranky, depressed, and refuse to do schoolwork or do jobs because of their games.

Sometimes, our habits can turn into addictions. How do we know if our habits are actually addictions? The answer is simple: if they affect your academics, professional success, physical health, mental health, and relationship with others.

Video game addicts are facing a different problem. Their academics can be affected because video games are prioritized over doing school stuff. When it comes to professional success, you cannot focus properly on your work because you are always longing to play a video game.

Even having a lack of sleep and not eating on time can cause some physical disorders. Mentally, you are exhausted because you do not know when and how to stop. Our relationships with other people will also be affected, as we forget how to interact with the community or how to deal with other people.

Also, you stop setting aside enough time to spend with your family. Sometimes, when gamers lose in playing their games, they are so irritable, resulting in spending more hours on video games. These are the common negative consequences that video game addicts encounter.

Ask yourself these questions to find out if you have a video game addiction:
  • Am I not doing well in school because I spend most of my time playing video games?
  • Am I not moving forward in my life because my time is taken up by gaming?
  • Is my gaming getting in the way of my sleep?
  • Am I still considered a romantic partner in spite of not spending enough time with my spouse?
  • Am I still having a harmonious relationship with my parents and friends despite spending an excessive amount of time playing video games than with them?
  • Am I still able to connect with my friends and have a social life?
  • Am I doing good in life and still motivated?
  • Am I professionally growing?
  • Is my mental health considered healthy?
  • Do I need medical assistance to treat my eye strains, migraines, and other physical disorders brought about by playing video games too much?

Why Video Games Can Be Addictive

Video games affect the brain much similarly to addictive drugs that induce releasing dopamine, which has the effect of producing addictive behaviors.

The use of video games is one way of creating addicting stimuli. The withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, headaches, insomnia, aggressive emotions, and the need to play video games. These symptoms highly suggest a potential addiction to gaming and video games.

Gaming addiction implies that a person wants to play video games to feel happy. They feel miserable when they can’t play. They feel restless and anxious if they can’t play their games and are only relieved when they start playing, much like getting addicted to smoking.

People who are addicted to video games most often say that this is their form of relief. This can help them minimize their anxiety attacks and sometimes can help their mental health because video games help them release stress.

Playing video games now acts as a recreational activity for them until they start to abuse it and get addicted to it. Then they end up spending too much time playing.

Why Is Video Game Addiction So Prevalent?

No definite scientific consensus is established in determining whether gaming is addictive or not. Internet gaming disorder is currently regarded as an unverified potential diagnosis with the need for additional review by the American Psychiatric Association.

The APA defines addiction as a psychological disorder that manifests through compulsive substance usage despite the harmful consequences. Consequently, it excludes the possibility of any behavioral addiction.

Only a small percentage of gamers show the symptoms of a disorder, particularly when it comes to specific symptoms of withdrawal or tolerance. For this reason, several people say overusing games can act as a habit or become symptoms of another condition.

How Is Video Game Addiction Treated?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that offers effective treatment for any form of addiction. As with anything online, one parent may want to limit how much time a young child can invest in games.

Preventing addiction disorders before they develop makes it easier to reverse them effectively. Limiting the hours of gaming and ensuring you get involved at the end of the day can help prevent your child from developing an addiction to gaming. Encouraging a gaming addict to exercise can also decrease the negative effects of sitting for long periods while playing video games.

Get Help Today

Are you ready to turn your life around? Do you want to stop your addiction to video games? Do you know someone with a gaming addiction?

Get help today. Gaming disorder can be overcome with the help of the counselors and therapists at Kentucky Counseling Center.

Do not let gaming addiction affect your relationships, academic performance, home life, and job performance. There are more ways to spend your precious time than playing video games. Life is too short, so start with your journey to recovery by booking an appointment at Kentucky Counseling Center now.

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