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 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
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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
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 addictionblog.org, 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
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