Gaming disorder symptoms

Video Game Addiction: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • Signs to Watch For
  • Getting Help
  • Preventing a Gaming Problem

It’s great to do things you enjoy. But can you go too far with a hobby? And at what point does it become an addiction? That’s the question experts are trying to answer about playing video games.

Even though gaming has been around for almost 50 years, studies about its harms are still in the early stages. Different groups have come to different conclusions about whether problem playing should be called an addiction.

The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the 2018 version of its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases. But the American Psychiatry Association’s manual, the DSM-5, didn’t. (So far, gambling is the only “activity” listed as a possible addiction.)

Signs to Watch For

The DSM-5 does include a section to help people and doctors know the warning signs of problem video gaming. These problems can happen whether you play online or offline.

Here’s what to look for in yourself or someone close to you -- your partner, a child, or a friend. You need to have five or more of these signs in 1 year to have a problem, according to criteria that were proposed in the DSM-5:

  • Thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time
  • Feeling bad when you can’t play
  • Needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good
  • Not being able to quit or even play less
  • Not wanting to do other things that you used to like
  • Having problems at work, school, or home because of your gaming
  • Playing despite these problems
  • Lying to people close to you about how much time you spend playing
  • Using gaming to ease bad moods and feelings

Of course, not everyone who plays a lot has a problem with gaming. Some experts say that it’s harmful to label people who might just be very enthusiastic about gaming. One thing they do agree on is that the percentage of players who meet the proposed criteria for addiction to video games is small. It’s estimated to be somewhere between 1% and 9% of all gamers, adults and kids alike. (It’s more common in boys and men than girls and women.)

It may help to start by asking yourself a few questions: Does your video gaming get in the way of other important things in your life, like your relationships, your job, or going to school? Do you feel like you’ve crossed the line between loving to playing and having to play? Might you be using gaming to avoid a deeper problem, like depression?

It can be hard to see a problem in yourself. The amount of time you spend gaming might seem fine to you. But if people close to you say it’s too much, it might be time to think about cutting back.

If you’re a parent who’s concerned about the amount of time your child spends gaming, look at how well they are doing at school and with friends. Having good grades and a good relationship with parents are signs that a child’s video gaming is unlikely to be a problem.

Getting Help

Get help from your doctor or therapist -- or your child’s pediatrician, if the person you’re concerned about is your son or daughter -- as soon as you think that gaming time is getting out of hand.

Studies about treating video game addiction are also in the early stages. One therapy that can help is called CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. This is mental health counseling that teaches you how to replace thoughts about gaming to help change behavior.

If you’re the parent of a gamer, a therapist can show you how to place limits on your child’s playing time if you have a hard time saying no. One study found that making parents part of a child’s treatment makes it work better.

Preventing a Gaming Problem

To keep the amount of time spent gaming under control, try these tips for adults and kids alike:

  1. Set time limits for play and stick to them.
  2. Keep phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom so you won’t play into the night.
  3. Do other activities every day, including exercise. This will lower the health risks of sitting and playing for long stretches of time.

No one knows whether certain kinds of games are more likely to lead to problem gaming. For the time being, make sure that your child is only playing games rated for their age.

Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects

Although it is not yet recognized by the American Medical Association as a diagnosable disorder, video game addiction is a very real problem for many people. According to the University of New Mexico, recent studies suggest that 6 to 15 percent of all gamers exhibit signs that could be characterized as addiction. Though this disorder can have significant consequences to those suffering from it, its signs and symptoms can sometimes be very difficult to recognize.

Are There Different Types of Video Game Addictions?

There are two major types of video games and therefore two major types of video game addictions. Standard video games are generally designed to be played by a single player and involve a clear goal or mission, such as rescuing a princess. The addiction in these games is often related to completing that mission or beating a high score or preset standard.

The other type of video game addiction is associated with online multiplayer games. These games are played online with other people and are especially addictive because they generally have no ending. Gamers with this type of addiction enjoy creating and temporarily becoming an online character. They often build relationships with other online players as an escape from reality. For some, this community may be the place where they feel they’re the most accepted.

What Causes an Addiction to Video Games?

Many different causes factor into video game addiction. One of the main reasons that video games can become so addictive, however, is they are designed to be that way. Video game designers, like anyone else trying to make a profit, are always looking for ways to get more people playing their games. They accomplish this by making a game just challenging enough to keep you coming back for more but not so hard that the player eventually gives up. In other words, success for a gamer often feels just out of reach. In this respect, video game addiction is very similar to another more widely recognized disorder: gambling addiction.

What Are the Signs of Video Game Addiction Problem?

As with any other addiction, video game addiction has warning signs. It is important to know how to recognize these signs if you or someone you care about is an avid gamer. According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, these symptoms can be both emotional and physical.

Emotional Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Some of the emotional signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
  • Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
  • Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming


Physical Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Some of the physical signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Fatigue
  • Migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse
  • Poor personal hygiene

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Video Game Addiction

Like any other compulsive disorder, video game addiction can have severe negative consequences. Though most of the symptoms listed above have short-term effects, they can lead to more severe long-term repercussions if not addressed properly. For example, someone addicted to video games will often avoid sleeping or eating proper meals in order to continue gaming. While the short-term effects of this may include hunger and fatigue, it could eventually lead to a sleep disorder or diet-related health issues. Similarly, those who isolate themselves from others in order to play video games may miss out on family events, outings with friends, or other events in the short-term. If this continues to be a pattern for a long period of time, however, addicts might find themselves without any friends at all.

Other long-term effects of video game addiction to consider are the financial, academic and occupational consequences involved. Video games and video game equipment can be very expensive, especially when factoring in recurring costs such as the high-speed Internet connection required for online multiplayer games. These games can also be very time-consuming, leaving addicted gamers with less time to focus on their education or career.

Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?

The most effective self-assessment that can be done is to examine the above list of symptoms associated with video game addiction. If you find that you or someone you care about exhibits any of these warnings signs, it may be a good time to cut back on the amount of time spent gaming. If you are unsure whether these symptoms apply to you, we can help. Call our toll-free number at to discuss your possible symptoms or to learn about treatment options.

Medication: Are There Drug Options for Video Game Addictions?

Treatment for video game addiction can come in many forms, including different types of therapy or 12-step programs. Certain medications may even be able to inhibit addictive behaviors.

Drugs: Possible Options

According to, bupropion is one medication that has been used recently to treat this type of disorder. The drug works in a way that changes the brain’s chemistry and helps to decrease cravings for video game play. Though it has proven to be fairly effective, this option may not be for everyone. Others may choose to medicate only when absolutely necessary, treating the symptoms as they occur. For example, a gamer suffering from migraines may take medication for headaches. Likewise, an addict suffering from sleeplessness may turn to sleeping pills.

Medication Side Effects

When you take any form of medication, especially when self-medicating, it is very important to read all directions and follow dosage instructions carefully. Even over-the-counter medications can result in dependency and therefore should not be taken for long periods of time unless it is recommended by a medical professional.

Bupropion, though often helpful, is not for everyone. Some possible side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Itching
  • Fever

Antidepressant Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal in Online Addicts

Due to the evident link between video game or Internet addiction and depression, it is not surprising that many addicted gamers take antidepressant medication to help with the symptoms. Though most healthcare professionals consider this type of medication to be safe and effective, it also comes with its own set of risks and side effects. One factor to consider before beginning antidepressant medication is that it may be difficult to stop taking it. It is common to experience withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, nausea and dizziness. In more serious cases, it is possible to experience depression as a symptom of withdrawal from the medication. This depression can be even more severe than the original depression, leading the patient to believe that the illness has returned.

Medication Overdose

According to the National Safely Council, unintentional overdose is responsible for more deaths among Americans between the ages of 35 and 54 years old than motor vehicle crashes. When taking any medication for addiction or any other problem, it is important to take only the amount prescribed. If you suspect possible overdose, it is important to act quickly. Options for immediate response include dialing 911 or contacting the National Poison Control Center.

Depression and Video Game Addiction

Two recent studies concerning the ties between video game addiction and depression showed an alarming correlation between the two. If you suffer from both conditions, it’s important to seek help at a treatment facility that can address both issues. If you attempt to treat the video game addiction without treating the underlying depression, the addiction is more likely to recur.

Dual Diagnosis: Video Game Addiction and Substance Abuse

Because video game addiction has been linked to depression, sleeplessness and an overall lack of concern for one’s own health, it is not surprising that substance abuse is also a problem for many gamers suffering from this compulsive disorder. For those suffering from video game addiction as well as substance abuse, proper treatment is imperative to recovery. If you or someone you know is currently suffering from one or both of these disorders, seek professional guidance immediately by calling us at .

Getting Help for Video Game Addiction

Recovery is not always easy, but it is achievable. Video game addiction can be just as dangerous as any other addiction and should be treated as such. The first step in overcoming dependency is being able to recognize that it exists. If you or someone you know exhibits any of the signs or symptoms described above, please don’t hesitate to find help treating a video gaming addiction. Call our hotline today at to begin the road to recovery.

Gambling addiction, its causes, stages, symptoms and treatment

Gambling addiction today has acquired the scale of a real epidemic, and this is observed not only among children and adolescents, but also among adults. The average teenager spends up to six hours a day at the computer. Approximately 70% of children are addicted to games like "Game of Ware" - with plots of violence and cruelty. Killing them is the main element and goal of the game. Addicts begin to confuse real reality with virtual reality.

Such a mania is considered to be the result of significant psychological pathologies. With the help of computer games , people try to get away from life situations that worry them or to replace a certain missing element: the attention of relatives, the absence of a loved one, social status.


Possible causes of gambling addiction are considered to be:

  • Various mental disorders (psychopathy).
  • Features of the human character, complexes, shyness, often lead to the emergence of addictions of this kind.
  • Many people use games to realize their childhood fantasies and fears.
  • Lack of communication. A similar problem is very relevant among children and adolescents whose parents are constantly busy at work.
  • Intra-family conflicts. Often, in order to avoid family scandals, people plunge into an imaginary world, which only exacerbates the situation.
  • Social phobias, when a person is afraid of interpersonal relationships and real society. Computer games help him escape from real life, feel important and strong. The computer for him becomes an interlocutor and friend.

Stages of gambling addiction

Gaming addiction does not occur all at once , there are several stages in its development, each of which is characterized by certain signs and changes in the behavior of the addict. Each stage is characterized by the acquisition of new pathological addictions.

Preparatory stage ,
which develops increased susceptibility to games. Personality traits such as low self-esteem, inability to control one's emotions, lack of desire to accept criticism, aggression, impulsivity and hyperactivity, increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress, a tendency to plunge into a fantasy world, contribute to the development of gambling addiction in adults and children. And this applies not only to computer games. At the same time, a person develops an irresistible desire to take risks and maintain his self-esteem . Gradually, an unconscious craving for a certain type of games develops. If such a psychological state is not noticed and corrected, then the disease passes to the next stage.

Winning stage ,
at which the perception of the game is formed in the human mind as a way to realize oneself, and sometimes to get material benefits. The mind begins to fog up, and even a small win greatly spurs interest. An illusion is created that a person creates his own destiny, while being able to prove his superiority to others. At this stage the person is unable to understand the consequences of his actions . Dissatisfaction and criticism from relatives can be perceived very negatively, as a desire to question the self-realization and success of the player.

Losing stage ,
when gamers find themselves in a closed cycle of certain events. Their desire to play is not always supported by the presence of material opportunities. They spend all available money and even tend to borrow money . After a chain of losses for a while, their desire to play disappears and an imaginary understanding of their mistakes sets in. However, if there are some provoking factors (for example, advertising or material opportunities that have appeared), a person again follows his desire, and history repeats itself. The interval between cycles is shorter, the more advanced the disease. Difficult financial situation and constant losses increase the level of anxiety, the player becomes angry and irritable .

Stage of desperation .
Due to the systematic desire to play, the person loses interest in everything else . Problems arise at school or at work, the social circle changes, the psychological state does not allow him to exist normally in the family. Relatives get tired of constant deceptions, debts and negative attitudes and begin to gradually move away. The player often understands that the reason for everything is addiction, however, all attempts to control themselves do not bring a positive result. A depressed psychological state often leads to the abuse of alcohol or drugs , which further exacerbates the disease. In such a state, people can break the law, sell existing real estate, valuables, take loans. The only solution a person sees is the opportunity to play further in order to win at once to solve their material and social problems.

The stage of hopelessness ,
in which the patient is aware of his dependence and understands that there is practically no chance of hitting the jackpot, nevertheless he continues to play. At the same time, they are ruled by desire experience the usual emotions during the game, which is a manifestation of psychological dependence.

How long does the pathology develop?

The development of gambling addiction occurs gradually and sometimes can last 3 years. At each stage, certain mental disorders develop. At first, the player is no different from healthy people, then he becomes too impulsive, he develops a tendency to obsessions. This leads to a permanent mental disorder. The lack of self-control and a change in self-criticism provokes the disintegration of the personality. The loss of moral values ​​leads to a state of anger, oppression of positive emotional states, the player becomes indifferent to the suffering of people and all sorts of social problems.

Mechanism of formation of game dependence

The pathophysiological mechanism of formation of game dependence on computer games is based on stimulation of certain pleasure centers in the brain . This pathological condition can manifest itself as a feeling of euphoria while visiting the virtual world. Patients with computer addiction cannot plan their time at the computer. To stimulate intellectual activity, they begin to consume large amounts of caffeinated drinks and other psychostimulants.

The mode and quality of food is changing - beer and fast food are becoming the main products for gamers. A person begins to poorly follow the rules of personal hygiene: he stops combing his hair, brushing his teeth, taking a shower - he becomes indifferent to how he looks and eats . He tends to lead a sedentary lifestyle and sleep poorly. If a computer or smartphone suddenly breaks down, or if the player runs out of money for the game, he is in a depressed mood, can be aggressive with people around him, starts looking for a solution to the problem and, as a rule, does not think about his personal life, work or study . As gambling addiction progresses, the patient cannot give up computer games, although he begins to understand their futility. He regularly escapes reality and plunges into an illusory world, takes on the role of a character and lives his life.

Gambling addiction leads to overload of the nervous system , excitatory impulses enter the human brain and after a certain time a decrease in mood, well-being is observed, anxiety increases, adaptation in society is disrupted. Dissatisfaction with oneself is often formed, the meaning of life is lost, symptoms of major depression . Such people, as a rule, are closed, taciturn.

Game addiction in adolescents and children

This age category in most cases is addicted to computer games, which is severe . Children become aggressive and angry if they are asked to leave the computer even for a minute. Signs of this addiction in children are that they begin to skip classes at school, lie to teachers and parents . Games cause violence in teenagers, since their main plot is murder, followed by rewards in the form of points and bonuses.

The immature child's psyche is overloaded with the effects of the game, and in the child's mind virtual reality is no different from natural life. Addiction negatively affects health and learning, all thoughts of the child are directed towards the anticipation of the game . Teenagers often refuse friends, abandon their studies, become aggressive. Psychologists say that this mania can lead a child to limited mental abilities and disintegration of personality.

Treatment of gambling addiction

Addiction cannot be considered as an independent disease, since it is the result of serious mental problems. It is important to determine the root cause of this phenomenon and deal specifically with it. For the treatment of gambling addiction, psychotherapy, medications, and hypnosis are used. It is very important to apply comprehensive measures. With gambling addiction, autogenic training, psychosynthesis, family and behavioral psychotherapy are also used.

Psychotherapy should be aimed at correcting family relationships, eliminating psychological attitudes (isolation), problems, and treating fears. The method of gestalt therapy is successfully applied, which helps to “close the gestalt”, i.e. solve the problem.

Symptomatic drug therapy computer game addiction is aimed at treating depression, insomnia, increased anxiety and irritability. In this case, herbal preparations of a sedative effect are often prescribed, but most often, specialists prescribe antipsychotics and tranquilizers. To stabilize sleep, hypnotics and antidepressants are used, which relieve psycho-emotional overexcitation and normalize mood.

Treatment of gambling addiction should be comprehensive

Preventive methods

Prevention of this disease is also extremely important, especially in cases where gambling addiction occurs in adolescence and childhood. At the same time, parents are advised to have conversations with the child more often, take care of his employment, interest him in some kind of sport or creativity . It is necessary to constantly encourage the child for success, praise him, support his self-esteem . Prevention of gambling addiction should be carried out on a regular basis.

Based on materials from sites,,

Finished: how to recognize gambling addiction | Project article KP Scarlet sail



Reference: Gambling addiction is a psychological dependence on the process of a digital game on a computer, smartphone or other gadget. At the same time, it is comparable in strength to the use of drugs or alcohol, because it provokes the release of adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine and cortisol into the blood. By the way, network games cause the strongest addiction, in which the most dedicated players sometimes spend more than one day.

In 2018, the World Health Organization included gaming disorder in the 11th list of the International Classification of Diseases, which became effective from January 2022. I am glad that not everyone is addicted to gambling, even if they spend some time playing a computer game. But you can recognize the clear signs of a real gamer.

Both men and women are subject to this scourge of modern society, but more and more often this dependence begins from a young age. In adults, addiction to gaming reality arises due to a combination of two factors - social dissatisfaction and psychological problems. In such conditions, it is easiest for them to escape into virtual reality in order to get away from problems and troubles.

Video games can be the simplest hobby that does not cause harm, allowing you to relax and get pleasant emotions. But this is only if they do not cause problems for a person. If you stick to the usual daily routine, go to school, work, do not miss meetings with friends, devote time to your other hobbies and entertainment, lead an active lifestyle, observing sleep and meals, then everything is in order.

But if your whole life begins to change drastically, then you should think about it, because then computer games become not an excuse to relax for an hour, but real “time eaters”.

Signs of gambling:

1. Ignoring problems
Those who are already addicted to computer games are simply not looking for ways to solve their real problems. It is worth immersing yourself in the game, life immediately “gets better”.

2. Euphoria
During the game, the emotional state changes dramatically. The gamer experiences euphoria, in addition, the emotional upsurge is fueled by like-minded people in the network. In the virtual world, you can create a new personal identity and have authority, which captivates those who become addicted.

3. Loss of interest in joint recreation
This is another red flag that should not be ignored. An addicted person will in every possible way ignore rest and meetings with friends in order to spend all his free time in the game. And if he has the opportunity to refuse the event, then he will do so.

4. Anger and conflicts
Any comments that the addict spends all the time in the game will cause him irritation and anger. The gamer is sure that he is in complete control of everything, and the rest are just sticking their noses into other people's business. Relations with others will only deteriorate, because their patience is not unlimited. And conflicts are inevitable. Many players are not even able to press pause, stop the game and immediately respond to a call for help.

5. Sleep disturbance and refusal to eat
Almost all gamers have disturbed sleep patterns. Even if he gets tired, he still can't finish the game. “Another 5 minutes” turns into at least an hour. Most addicts go to sleep only in the morning. At the same time, sleep is very disturbing, it does not allow you to restore strength and the previous daily routine. In addition, they begin to forget about food if they are not reminded. They don’t want to spend time cooking, so they just start “biting” sandwiches and snacks. Gamers quickly switch to coffee and energy drinks, which replace full meals for them, and even disrupt sleep.

6. Waste of money
In order to “pump” their gaming account and improve the quality of the game, addicts begin to spend their money on this. Sometimes they do not feel control at all and are ready to deposit any amount at any time.

7. Apathy in the real world
Without a computer, an addicted person will feel apathy, indifference or irritation towards others, and become depressed. All his thoughts will be only about how to quickly return to the game.

How to help a gamer?

It takes a lot of time and effort to get a person out of his virtual reality. All addicts are united by a weak ability to adapt, impaired socialization, the desire to avoid solutions and get away from problems. And they have to learn to deal with it. At this moment, the support of loved ones is very important, because it is they who are able to pull the gambler to the bright side. Help control the time he spends on the game. Do not blame if he broke loose, try to involve him in a joint pastime - walking, shopping, cinema, household chores.

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