Video games are a popular form of entertainment for people of all ages. From the classic arcade days to modern-day console systems, video games have retained their appeal as an immersive and creative pastime for more than two decades with no signs of slowing down.
However, like anything that is done in excess, too much gaming can cause serious problems with physical and mental health. It is estimated that 4-9% of "gamers" suffer from video game addiction. This condition is where someone finds it difficult (or impossible) to control their gaming habits. In extreme cases, this can lead to serious consequences such as financial hardship, relationship breakdowns, social isolation, and even job loss.
It starts off like many addictions—a harmless way to destress from the daily grind. But over time, you may find that you enjoy spending most of your time playing video games and lose interest in other activities that you once enjoyed. When you begin to think about video games during the parts of your day when you should be concentrating on other tasks (like working or spending time with friends and family) it has likely crossed the line from a hobby to an addiction. Like most addictions, video game addiction has repercussions that can destroy parts of your life. Many people with an addiction to video games will struggle to recognize it at first (and perhaps at all). They are consumed by the immense satisfaction they get from gaming and are usually unaware of the consequences until it is having a major negative impact on their life.
Playing video games can provide an escape or a feeling of control, which can be especially attractive during times of stress or uncertainty. As this behavior intensifies, it can lead to further problems such as social isolation and physical health issues due to decreased activity levels.
People who are struggling with a video game addiction will often prioritize gaming over important tasks like household chores, catching up with friends, or social events that they now find less appealing. This can lead to poor living conditions, social isolation, neglected hygiene, and eventually a mental health crisis. Mental health complications like depression and anxiety can develop from ignoring personal responsibilities and having a lack of real-world human connection. Video gaming isn't free and can also cause financial strain with the purchase of memberships, upgrades, and equipment. As the addiction progresses problems with school or work will arise.
Over time this addiction cycle can have serious consequences on physical, mental, and emotional health. For children and teenagers who still have developing brains, excessive gaming interferes with the proper development of important skills such as problem-solving and communication. Prolonged exposure to video games has also been linked to causing trouble sleeping and weight gain.
Here's what to look out for if you think you or someone you know is struggling with a video game addiction.
Video game addiction is a serious mental health disorder that requires help from family and professionals. It is essential for people who feel they are struggling with excessive gaming habits to understand that there is help available to restore balance in their lives.
If you know someone who may be struggling with this, it's important for you to be understanding and offer support. If you identify any of the signs listed above in yourself or someone you know, Medens Health can help you! We have therapists in the California and Nevada areas that are certified in all areas of addiction. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.