Evan’s friends stopped by after school to see if he wanted to play Frisbee golf. No, Evans says, not today or tomorrow or the next day. Evan has been coming home from school and spending all afternoon and evening and into the night in his room playing video games. Soon, his friends stop coming and stop asking. Evan does not notice, but his parents do. They are concerned because his grades have been falling as well, and Evan will not even come to family meals. They wonder if he might have a video game addiction.
What many people refer to as a video game addiction, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) calls an internet gaming disorder. More study needs to be conducted, but many therapists see internet gaming disorder as a similar disorder to gambling addiction—an impulsive control disorder where people lose control over how long and when they play video games.
If you or your child is having difficulty with when and how long they game, interventions are available. Several 12-step programs have formed that address gaming, and many people are turning to mental health professionals for guidance.
That is why Thriveworks Peachtree City provides counseling for video game addiction: people can regain control of their video game use.
Video Game Addiction: Recognizing the Signs
Internet gaming disorder or video game addiction occurs when people form an emotional attachment to video games. As with many other addictions, people may lose control over their video game use.
The DSM-5 gives the following diagnostics for internet gaming disorder. Many overlap with signs for other addictions:
- Tolerance: Playing video games more often and for longer periods of time in order to feel the same amount of satisfaction.
- Obsession: Being preoccupied with gaming, even when not playing.
- Avoidance: Using video games as an escape from real difficulties and challenges.
- Withdrawal: Experiencing irritability, moodiness, depression, or restlessness when trying to quit gaming.
- Skewed priorities: Choosing videos games over time with family and friends or over career and education opportunities.
- Deceit: Lying to loved ones about gaming.
- Escape: Alleviating challenging emotions (guilt, shame, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, boredom, depression, et cetera) by playing video games.
Parents have the challenge of recognizing signs in their children. In addition to the previously listed symptoms, they should also be concerned if they see the following in their children:
- Sleeping at school and throughout the day.
- Incomplete school assignments.
- Falling grades.
- Lost interest in beloved activities.
- Gaming by themselves.
Depending on how many symptoms are displayed, people may have mild, moderate, or severe internet gaming disorder.
Internet Gaming Disorder: What Causes It?
There are many varying causes to video game addiction, and mental health professionals are learning more all the time. Compulsion loops or core loops within the narratives of many games are seen as a contributors to the disorder.
These loops give players a challenge. When the challenge is completed, players receive a reward that leads them into the next challenge. When the next challenge is completed, they receive another reward that leads to another challenge, and so forth. With each reward, dopamine is released with players’ brains, connecting the experiencing of gaming with pleasure.
For example, in the game, Monster Hunter, players receive powers from each monster they kill that allow them to fight more fierce monsters and gain better powers. With each monster that is slain, dopamine is also release, and the connection between feelings of satisfaction and the game is solidified in the brain.
Compulsive Gaming’s Potential Negative Effects
Any impulse control disorder or addiction has the potential for devastating effects within a person’s life, and internet gaming disorder is no different. Those who struggle with video game addiction may experience negative relational, physical, and emotional effects.
- Relational: As people form attachments to video games, their real-world relationships may suffer. In particular, lying about video game use can wound loved ones, as can irresponsible spending on equipment and monthly fees.
- Physical: Indirectly, obsession with gaming often leads to neglect of one’s body, resulting in poor eating habits, lost sleep, and neglected hygiene. Directly, too much gaming can cause Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, headaches, and back pain.
- Emotional: Using video games to avoid emotional problems often means those issues grow.
Therapy for Internet Gaming Disorder at Thriveworks Peachtree City
If you or your child is struggling with compulsive video game use, you are not alone. Many adults and adolescents are losing control of when and how much they game. Many people are also turning to therapy to help re-establish control.
If you are ready to reach out for help, know that Thriveworks Peachtree City has worked with teens and adults who struggle with their gaming habits.
When you call our office, a person will answer. You may be able to meet with a therapist the following day—many new clients see their counselor within 24 hours of their call. We also accept many different insurance plans.
Let’s get started. Call Thriveworks Peachtree City today.