Gaming addicts vulnerable to psychological disorders

Gaming addicts vulnerable to psychological disorders

Are you often irritable, experiencing prolonged emotional lows or having sudden episodes of anxiety? Perhaps, you are a religious gamer, say, psychiatrists.

What was once known to be a psychological state is seen to have a direct correlation with prolonged gaming, a NIMHANS study has shown.

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) have found a direct connection between gaming addiction and psychiatric illness.

The amount of time spent playing online games can trigger depression, lifestyle disturbances and psychiatric distress, according to the study.

The study assessed depression, anxiety, and stress among users with Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). 60 users - 58 males and two females - in the age group of 16–18 years underwent the IGD test as part of the study.

The IGD test

The IGD test is a questionnaire designed to measure the gaming activity of an individual in the past 12 months.

The participants were also provided background data sheets to fill and were assessed on depression, anxiety and stress scale. Majority of them were playing a multiplayer online battle arena game or a first-person shooter game.

“There was a significant positive relationship between internet gaming and depression, anxiety and stress scale,” says Dr Manoj Sharma, SHUT Clinic, NIMHANS.

Typically, the participants used the phone for 10 to 14 hours a day. About 6.8% of individuals had a psychiatric history.

There were no individuals with neurological history. The patients with a physical history of asthma or diabetes were at 1.7%. Though, about 43.4% participants had a family history of neurological conditions, psychiatric conditions or physical conditions. 

“For many, gaming was a form of escape from boredom, a feel-good factor and a relief from day-to-day problems,” says Dr Sharma.

Psychiatric symptoms

According to Sharma, those diagnosed with Internet Gaming Disorder were frequently having psychiatric symptoms.

Decreased sleep, irritability, and restlessness were also present among those surveyed, wrote experts from NIMHANS in a recent publication.

Gaming addicts could also develop disturbed sleep, irregular eating pattern, decreased involvement in offline activities and reclusive behaviour, the study warns.

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