Can Video Games be Addictive?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness. 
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

The video gaming industry last year was a 138.7 billion dollar industry and it’s projected to be even higher this year.

There is a difference between someone who play one, two or three hours a night or a few times a week and the person who is playing 10+hours per day and impacting work and/or school performance and attendance.

If there is a theme that we can identify in all of our discussions about mental health we’ve had here on Wellness Wednesdays, it would be that everything, there is a necessity for balance and to know what your particular personality and tendencies are.

It’s also a good thing to remember that there are so many variables that can go into someone finding themselves either playing more than reasonable or toward the end of the gaming becoming personally disruptive: That could be based on that particular individual, some people have a tendency toward of being more “all in” than others, their external circumstances, and how a particular game is designed.

For instance, some games that have a social networking component of it can be particularly powerful to an individual who may be experiencing challenges in everyday life or feeling lonely or isolated socially. 

Earlier this year, the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is what mental health professionals who work diagnostically use to provide mental health diagnoses, now recognizes “Internet gaming disorder” as something that has been identified for more research.

Potentials behaviours to be aware of:

Is Gaming Getting in the Way of Responsibilities?

First and foremost, if thinking about gaming or the actual gaming itself is having an impact on work and/or school, whether it be attendance or quality of performance, that would be a warning sign. 

Do You Keep it a Secret?

If there are secret concerns you have about the amount of time that you devote to gaming or if other people, especially partners or friends, express concern with the amount of time you spend gaming, that’s also something to pay attention to.

Are You Gaming More than Spending Time with Others?

Lastly, if you find yourself consistently choosing gaming over social times or if gaming is consistently keeping you away from spending quality time with your partner or family, it may be worthwhile to pay attention to this behaviour. 

What to do if you suspect there’s a concern:

1) The first line of what can be done is to reach out and speak to someone you trust in your life.  I recently heard a quote, which goes something like, your problems are only as big as your secrets. But it is important to identify someone who you trust. 

2) Because most people are not trained to support mental and emotional challenges, it can be helpful to speak to a friend or a family member.  But there are workbooks on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which can be helpful such as Mind Over Mood.

3) Working with a counselling or therapy professional can also be helpful.

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