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The World Health Organization now considers gaming to be a mental disorder.

Apparently, the gaming world has made news yet again. Gaming is now labeled as it’s own mental disorder. When, in reality, it helps those cope with real mental disorders.

Close up of a PlayStaton controller

I am aware that gaming can become an addiction. Sometimes, a serious one. In a previous article, I pointed out how gaming improves overall brain function. It is better for a person to get their frustrations out through gaming, than hurting someone or themselves. How is it such a bad thing to find a healthy alternative to these bigger problems?

However, not all psychologists agree that gaming disorder is worthy of inclusion in the International Classification of Diseases, known as the ICD.

Neuro psychologists prescribed me game therapy as a means to help me regain normal brain function after a TBI (traumatic brain injury) almost claimed my life. People can get addicted to working out. Even healthy things can become addictions.

What is an addiction?

An addiction is defined as “having a compulsive physiological need for a habit forming substance, or feeling strongly inclined or compelled to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly.”

Mental disorders are defined as any “mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode.”

Take the time to read the two back links provided above. You will see that gaming helps combat many more serious disorders such as:

  • Anxiety & Panic Disorders.
  • Bipolar Disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Eating Disorders.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I have all but Bipolarity. People who suffer from Bipolar Disorder can utilize gaming as a means to control violent outbursts. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) compels people to become obsessed with small abnormalities. These can take on many different forms, varying from small to extreme cases. I have heard of people bathing in -or drinking bleach- to feel clean.  Many people with more severe mental disorders turn to gaming to escape the bigger problem.

Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director at The Telos Project, a nonprofit mental health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas says:

“I’m a clinician and a researcher, so I see people who play video games and believe themselves to be on the lines of addicted.” In his experience, they’re actually using gaming “more as a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression.”

Bean also goes on to say what I was hoping to read:

 “it’s not really a good idea to go forward with this [diagnosis]. … It really opens the door for anything to be a sickness.”

There are bigger and more serious mental illnesses to be concerned with these days. Most of which have no cure, and are beyond the person’s control. Let’s deal with those first.