Internet Gaming Disorder: What It Is, Diagnosis and Possible Ill Effects

internet gaming addiction

Internet gaming disorder is an addiction to video games that can cause adverse effects on your life. The first step to overcoming an addiction is acknowledging that there is one. And that it’s causing problems for your life.

For those who suffer from internet gaming disorder, knowing what it entails as well as its signs and symptoms will allow them to address the issue more healthily.

This article will discuss what internet gaming disorder is, how it affects people, diagnosis, and possible treatments for this condition.

DSM On Internet Gaming Disorder

internet gaming disorder

Internet Gaming Disorder is a mental condition. It is now in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the go-to source for identifying all mental conditions. The latest version, DSM V, has just been released in May 2013 with a few changes from previous versions.

One change in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was including internet gaming disorder. Symptoms are preoccupation with the games, lying, and not being able to stop playing them.

Diagnosis for Internet Gaming Disorder

A preoccupation with gaming, which can lead to sacrificing other interests and daily activities due to excessive use of video games. But it must be noted that the diagnosis is only possible if the individual has had the symptoms uninterruptedly for at least 12 months.

During this period, the individual must also experience significant impairment and distress in their life due to these symptoms. They may also need to have given up on other activities such as work or school because of gaming. Behavior patterns are not better explained by a manic episode that is part of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Note: Online video game addiction has also been linked with poor academic performance, sleep deprivation, and depression. It can lead people to stay up late at night playing online games instead of getting adequate rest which leads to chronic fatigue. This can also lead to school absenteeism and poor academic performance which can be life-altering.

Symptoms Of Internet Gaming Disorder

internet gaming disorder 1

Internet gaming disorder is very difficult to diagnose. Because it has no clear diagnostic criteria or way to measure the extent of this addiction in comparison with other addictions. However, according to psychologists internet disorders are on a rapid rise and more likely than not will be included in future editions of DSM.

It should also be noted that people suffering from internet gaming disorder tend to have a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, social phobia, or ADHD.

If you think your child might have this problem there are some things you should look out for:

  • Preoccupation with Internet games, or overuse,
  • Lying about time spent playing such games (gender differences also exist),
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not allowed to play,
  • Loss of interest in social activities as well as academic performance,
  • Deterioration of personal relationships,
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed,
  • Increased irritability and aggressive behavior when asked about gaming,
  • Need to play games for increasing amounts of time to achieve the desired level of excitement or satisfaction

NOTE: This disorder is included in the DSM V’s “Conditions for Further Study.” It means that there is not enough evidence to support its classification as a separate mental condition.

Internet Gaming Disorder

Associated with

  • Higher risk of having attention problems,
  • Increased irritability or aggressive behavior,
  • Higher risk of having depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts,
  • Lower academic performance in adolescents increased peer problems at school,
  • Conflicts with teachers and classmates because of the time spent playing games online instead of attending school work,
  • Depression or dissatisfaction with life, which can make it difficult for individuals to stay away from problematic gaming behavior

Can Result In

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed,
  • Loss of motivation to complete tasks and goals,
  • Sense of isolation, social withdrawal, and lack of engagement with the external world,
  • Lack of interest in pursuing new opportunities for education, employment, and relationships

Withdrawal symptoms

Some withdrawal symptoms might include irritability or moodiness, anxiety, depression, or sadness. Especially when the individual is not able to play games online for a long period. These kinds of feelings can last from days up to months at a time.

Possible Ill-Effects Of Internet Gaming Disorder On

Mental Health

Psychologists on the Internet Gaming Disorder say that while some mental illnesses may be made worse by excessive gaming, most of these disorders can be treated. When they do not get to play for a long time, they may also become irritable, anxious, or even aggressive.

For example, one study conducted in Australia found out that children who were diagnosed with ADHD and took part in online role-playing games displayed improvement after treatment.

However, they also established that children who were diagnosed with ADHD and took part in offline role-playing games didn’t show improvement despite treatment.

Physical Health

Psychologists on Internet Gaming Disorder have gone back and forth in making conclusions. Some studies show internet gaming disorder may not be completely bad for the body. While others state it is unequivocally terrible for your health.

For example, one study conducted by Oxford University found out that there was no link between addiction to internet games and heart disease or high blood pressure.

Furthermore, they established that even though men who are addicted to internet games had a higher body mass index than their non-addicted counterparts. It didn’t mean that the former was more likely to develop cardiovascular problems as the years go by.

Social Life

Psychologists on Internet use and addiction say that excessive gamers tend to be more introverted than their non-gaming peers. This means they don’t have a lot of friends in real life. As they simply don’t have a desire to socialize with the people around them.

When it comes to their offline lives, most sufferers from internet gaming disorder are not doing anything that they like. In other words, many of them suffer from social anxiety.

Coping Tools and Techniques

online gaming addiction

The most important thing is becoming aware of your child’s playing behavior. So you can help them if they are struggling with excessive gaming habits. It is ideal to recognize the problem earlier as it will be effective for the treatment.

Psychologists on internet gaming disorder offer some tips (step by step) for parents of children and adults who are at risk of developing the illness:

  • Talk about the risks with your children,
  • Monitor your child’s online time weekly or even daily to make sure he isn’t spending too much time in front of a screen,
  • Make sure he knows that his online life is not more important than his real-life relationships or activities,
  • Encourage your child to be active by enrolling them in physical activity programs,
  • Ask them to take frequent breaks from video games and limit playtime (for example playing for an hour and then taking a five-minute break, and repeating),
  • Praise your child for trying to stick to his goals


  • Don’t let your child play games that you haven’t checked out first and make sure they’re age-appropriate,
  • Be aware of games like “World of Warcraft” or other online role-playing games that may have more intense followers,
  • Participate in self-help groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous; and/or cognitive behavior therapy

Psychologists on Internet Gaming Disorder

internet gaming addiction 1

Many psychologists have analyzed this disorder thoroughly in the past couple of years. They have come up with a list that includes tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and the so-called craving. These all have to do with the effects of playing games online, which can be very addictive for some individuals.

Thus, internet gaming disorder can be a serious problem that may require the intervention of mental health professionals to overcome. There are many treatment options for different people who have different symptoms of internet gaming disorder. In addition, people need to realize that this is a medical condition and not just an excuse to play games all day long.


The World Health Organization has been studying the potential of internet gaming disorder since 2013. There have been many studies that show a correlation between video game addiction and other mental health disorders. But there is not enough evidence to establish a connection yet.

A study by the University College London found no significant link between playing video games and depression in teenagers with low self-esteem or anxiety. It was contrary to what most people would expect given their previous findings on how addictive they can be when played excessively.

In summary, it’s hard for researchers to definitively say whether or not excessive use of video games causes these types of problems. Because everyone who plays them does so differently from one another based on various factors such as age, gender, and underlying health conditions.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences. If you have any queries regarding Online Addiction Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Online therapy session

Try MantraCare Wellness Program free

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.