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Why Can’t I Stop Playing Video Games?!

Why Can’t I Stop Playing Video Games?!

You think about video games during the day when you should be working. You think about video games when eating dinner with your family. You skip social events to play your video games. You dream about video games. And, you even spend (not save or invest) that extra cash to get the latest tools to up your gaming experience.

Pretty normal stuff. Or is it? How do you know if you have a fond affection toward video gaming or an all-out addiction? Read on to learn more about what defines a video game addiction, so you can determine if you or someone you know might have this disorder.

What Is an Addiction?

The word “addiction” is used casually. If someone goes to the gym often, their friends might tell them that they’re addicted to the gym. If someone says that they need a cup of coffee in the morning; otherwise, they can’t function, they might describe themselves as addicted to caffeine. But does one behavior (going to the gym or drinking a cup of coffee in the morning) indicate an addiction?

Not necessarily. Other factors need to be present to call something an addiction. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), an addiction is a “psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs. The term is sometimes applied to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, Internet, and gambling addictions.” It’s the second sentence in the quote that pertains to a video game addiction. One does not have to have a substance use disorder to be addicted to video games.

The World Health Organization recognizes video game addiction, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) also recognizes this type of addiction.

What Are the Symptoms of a Video Game Addiction?

Just like with other addictions, there are some common symptoms related to a video game addiction. You can even take a video game addiction test at Mind Diagnostics to see if this disorder fits you. (Remember, though, a test is not a diagnosis but a starting point in recognizing if you might have a problem with video game addiction.)

Listed below are some symptoms of video game addiction:

 

  • When not playing video games, feeling agitated, irritable, anxious, or depressed
  • Neglecting work or school responsibilities
  • Setting a specific amount of time to play and then not stopping when that time is up
  • Ignoring hygiene and proper food and water intake
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Prioritizing playing video games over other responsibilities
  • Experiencing a plateau in emotions when playing, so than playing longer to achieve that same emotional experience when one first played the video game

If some or all these symptoms speak to you, then it might be time to speak to a trusted family member or friend or a doctor to get started on the road to recovery.

What Kind of Treatment Is There for a Video Game Addiction?

Although the video gaming industry doesn’t warn consumers of possible addiction to their products, video game addiction is a serious disorder. Treating a video game addiction is similar to treating other addictions with regard to seeing a therapist one-on-one. A qualified therapist who is trained and experienced in treating video game addiction is important because then treatment will be tailored for that particular addiction. 

Usually, a therapist will use a combination of therapies, but many will begin with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). With this type of therapy, you will learn to recognize thoughts that lead to the behavior you want to change. From there, you will learn to replace those thoughts with different ones that lead to behaviors that are healthy for you. This takes time and patience, so hang in there. CBT is the go-to therapy when dealing with addiction.

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Your therapist might also ask you to explore a past trauma or experiences that might have led to your addiction. Your therapist might even ask family to come in for a few therapy sessions. This is known as family-based therapy. Your therapist will also teach you meditation and relaxation techniques to quell nervousness and anxiety.

Sometimes, another disorder is at play but wasn’t recognized because of the addiction. You might have depression, anxiety, or ADHD, for example, so a combination of drug therapy and individual therapy might be recommended.

Group therapy is another avenue of treatment. Here, you’ll find like-minded people who are experiencing the same addiction as you. The group leader will facilitate the group while group members offer support to one another. 

Treatment centers specifically for video game addictions can be beneficial to those who need to be immersed in a supportive environment away from their own environment. Treatment centers offer both individual and group therapy.

Conclusion

Playing video games at the expense of your health, responsibilities, and relationships is sometimes normalized in our culture. Yet, there’s nothing normal about this. Video game addiction is real, and help is available. You can learn to manage and even overcome your video game addiction.