On Monday, the U.N.'s health agency announced it will add extreme video game playing as a condition in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases manual.
The agency said classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a seperate condition will "serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue".
Psychiatrist Richard Graham, who led the launch of the UK's first technology addiction service specifically for young people at Nightingale Hospital, London, said there was an important difference between enthusiastic gameplay and the new disorder. There is no doubt that there are people who are likely to end up addicted to playing games, although this is more likely a symptom of some other issue.
Diagnosis, however, has to be done by health professionals, and requires negative gaming behavior to last for at least 12 months. The American Psychiatric Association identified "Internet Gaming Disorder" as an area for further study in the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the central resource for identifying and diagnosing disorders in the United States.
The WHO described ICD-11 as a "once in a lifetime event", and noted that the world will likely have to wait a few more years until the updated classification is implemented into healthcare systems around the world.
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As video games such as Fortnite have become a ubiquitous social phenomenon for teenagers, there's growing concern in the medical community about video game addiction. "We welcome the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11, which will over time help to understand the true prevalence of harmful gaming".
WHO's latest catalogue also has a new chapter on traditional medicine, which previously went unmentioned, despite being used by millions of people around the world.
The ICD-11 doesn't come into effect until January 1, 2022, with today's release being "an advanced preview" to give countries the chance to prepare for its changes.
Due to this, the NHS, which is the Health Service in the United Kingdom, will be treating people who have this condition.
This is the first revision of the codes to be completely electronic, which World Health Organization officials said was a better way to group conditions, and would enable patient safety to be recorded more easily.
Gaming disorder rubs shoulders with conditions such as gambling disorder, substance abuse, and addictive hoarding in the ICD.
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