2016 Mental Health Month: Video game addiction may indicate psychiatric disorders

People nowadays are more wired than ever with technology impacting our lives in a big way. With each benefit comes a potential side effect. While technology enables people gain control over their lives, it also confines the younger generation to their homes as they continue to indulge in video games.

The extent of the video gaming culture in the United States can be understood by the 2015 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data, released by the Entertainment Software Association, which said that an estimated four out of five families in the country own a device to play video games.

Looking at the video gaming culture in the country, the University of Bergen, Norway, tried to find out if there was any association between dependence on video games and the presence of psychiatric disorders. The study, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors in March 2016, revealed positive correlations between signs of mental disorder and video game addiction.

Excessive gaming may be an escape mechanism for psychiatric disorders

The study, titled “The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study,” looked at an estimated 20,000 adults who agreed to respond to the questions regarding their gaming habits. The scientists observed the respondents aged between 16 and 88 years for any possible indications of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and depression while they participated in an online cross-sectional survey answering questions about their demographic characteristics and addiction to video games.

Stressing on the findings, co-author of the study Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Psy.D., clinical psychologist specialist at the Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, said, “Excessively engaging in gaming may function as an escape mechanism for, or coping with, underlying psychiatric disorders in attempt to alleviate unpleasant feelings, and to calm restless bodies.”

The study also pinpointed at the kind of people who have a predisposition towards addictive video gaming. The researchers found growing age to be inversely proportional to addictive tendencies of video gaming, apart from various other factors. While trying to figure out if the gender card could be an important indication, it was observed that men were more associated with video games than their female counterparts.

Young unmarried men more prone to video game addiction

According to the study, children and adolescents have an increased probability of getting addicted to video games. There are people who engage themselves in video gaming to escape the brunt of mental disorders, when left untreated. The research also warns about young unmarried men being more prone to video game addiction as opposed to their older and married counterparts. Dr. Andreassen said, “Video game addiction is more prevalent among younger men, and among those not being in a current relationship, than others.”

Seeking recovery

More than the prevalence of mental illness, it is the stigma arising from preconceived notions and ignorance that needs to be curbed. The insensitivity of people towards mentally ill impacts a patient and his loved ones negatively.

Since 1949, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and participants across the United States observe the month of May as the “Mental Health Month,” creating awareness about the rising number of Americans falling prey to mental illnesses and to uphold the necessity of providing support and equal care to all.

The 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help you find effective treatments for various mental health illnesses so that you get back your psychological and emotional well-being. You may call our 24/7 helpline number at 855-653-8178 or chat online to know about various mental health rehabilitation centers.