Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023

Key points:

  • About two-thirds of U.S. households participate in video gaming, with adults over 18 being the majority.

  • Video game addiction, termed "internet gaming disorder" in the DSM-5-TR, negatively affects self-care, relationships, academic performance, and professional responsibilities.

  • Video game addiction affects individuals across various age groups, with adults more commonly diagnosed, and males exhibiting symptoms more frequently.

  • Emotional symptoms include restlessness, preoccupation, dishonesty, and social withdrawal.

  • Physical symptoms encompass fatigue, headaches, repetitive strain injuries, and neglect of personal care.

In today’s digital age, video games have become an integral part of American culture. They provide entertainment, develop skills, and even offer avenues for social interaction. Recent data shows that about two-thirds of U.S. households participate in video gaming, with most of these gamers being adults aged over 18. 

However, while many enjoy gaming as a hobby, a darker side to this pastime exists: video game addiction. This serious condition can deeply impact affected individuals, but its signs and symptoms may not always be easy to recognize. 

What is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction, recognized as "internet gaming disorder" in the DSM-5-TR, is a behavioral condition characterized by a reduced ability to control one's gaming habits. This lack of control can lead to several negative outcomes in a person's life. Some negative consequences can include areas such as self-care, personal relationships, academic performance, and professional responsibilities.

While some experts cannot agree on this condition’s classification as an addiction or mental disorder, it's important to understand that any habit or activity that becomes overwhelming and affects everyday life can lead to mental, social, and physical health challenges. If you believe your gaming habits are negatively affecting your well-being, it may be time to seek treatment.  

Who Does Video Game Addiction Affect?

Video game addiction is a condition that doesn't discriminate by age. It can impact individuals across various age groups, including children, teens, and adults. However, adults are more commonly diagnosed with this addiction. Additionally, males tend to exhibit video game addiction symptoms more frequently than females.

How common is video game addiction?

According to a recent study, between 0.3-1 percent of the general population meet the criteria for a diagnosis of video game addiction. While this might seem like a small percentage, when applied to a large population, it represents a significant number of individuals potentially grappling with this challenge.

When Gaming Becomes an Addiction

Gaming can be an engaging pastime for many, but the line between recreational gaming and addictive gaming can sometimes blur. The difference lies in the consequences of the behavior. 

Balancing gaming with other activities without compromising one’s routine signifies a healthy hobby. However, addiction often manifests as an overwhelming need to play, regardless of daily tasks or commitments. 

If gaming begins to disrupt daily routines, hinder personal relationships, impede work or academic progress, or cause a decline in self-care,  it has likely crossed the line from a harmless hobby to a potential addiction. 

What Causes Video Game Addiction?

The alluring nature of video games is not accidental. Video games are engineered to be captivating as a way to keep players engaged for extended periods. 

Key factors that may contribute to video game addiction include: 

  • Behavioral Psychology: Modern video games are engineered using behavioral psychology techniques. These techniques are designed to keep players engaged and returning for more.

  • Dopamine Release: Playing these games results in high dopamine levels, a neurochemical linked to pleasure and reward. Prolonged exposure to this stimulation can lead to structural brain changes.

  • Instant Gratification: Video games often reward players quickly. This fosters an environment where immediate rewards become the norm, leading to adjusted behavioral expectations.

  • Time Distortion: The immersive nature of games can distort one's perception of time, making hours feel like minutes.

  • Escape and Progress: Games offer an escape from real-world challenges and present measurable progress, giving players a sense of achievement.

  • Social Connectivity: Many games involve social interactions, creating a space where players feel a sense of community, safety, and control.

  • Manipulative Features: Game developers have integrated elements like in-app purchases, microtransactions, and loot boxes to manipulate players into playing. 

Signs and Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction, like other forms of behavioral addiction, presents both emotional and physical symptoms. Recognizing these signs can be the first step towards seeking help.

Emotional Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction can affect one's mental and emotional well-being. Emotional symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Restlessness or Irritability: This can occur when an individual is prevented from playing

  • Preoccupation: Constant thoughts or an obsession about getting back to a game, or constantly planning the next gaming session

  • Dishonesty: Lying to loved ones about the duration and frequency of their gaming sessions

  • Social Withdrawal: Choosing to spend more time in-game than with friends or family, leading to isolation

Physical Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Excessive video gaming can lead to significant physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue: Consistently feeling tired or drained due to lack of adequate rest

  • Headaches: Resulting from intense concentration or screen-induced eye strain

  • Repetitive Strain Injuries: Like carpal tunnel syndrome, due to continuous use of gaming controllers or mice

  • Neglected Personal Care: A noticeable decline in personal hygiene or grooming standards

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Video Game Addiction

The immediate effects of video game addiction might seem minor, but they can potentially signal deeper challenges. In the short term, individuals may experience sleep deprivation, often sacrificing rest to continue their gaming sessions. They might also miss meals and social events as they prioritize their gameplay, preferring the virtual realm to real-world interactions.

As time progresses, these initial symptoms can evolve into more long-lasting issues. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to severe sleep disorders. Regularly skipping meals or opting for unhealthy snacks can result in nutritional deficiencies or other diet-related health complications. 

Social isolation might intensify, leading individuals to withdraw from family events, outings with friends, or other important personal engagements. If unchecked, this pattern can result in gamers finding themselves lacking social connections altogether. 

Furthermore, the financial burdens associated with regular purchases of games, equipment, and online services can strain budgets. Last but not least, spending a large portion of one's time on gaming can take away from academic or professional responsibilities, potentially preventing educational or career growth.

Depression and Video Game Addiction

The relationship between mental health and excessive video gaming has been a recent topic of discussion and concern. While definitive conclusions have yet to be drawn, recent research indicates a potential link between excessive gaming and depression. 

In a comprehensive review, researchers analyzed 50 studies fitting specific criteria for video game addiction. The findings indicated that individuals with problematic gaming behaviors had higher rates of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and OCD. Additionally, these individuals often exhibited decreased self-control, lowered self-esteem, and compromised academic well-being.

How is Video Game Addiction Treated? 

Treating video game addiction often requires a strategic approach, combining psychological therapies with lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medications. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found effective in addressing the underlying patterns of thinking and behavior associated with this addiction. Through CBT, individuals learn to recognize and challenge their problematic behaviors and develop healthier coping strategies. 

Additionally, family therapy can be beneficial, especially for younger individuals, as it educates families about the addiction and helps them support their loved one's recovery. Lifestyle changes, such as setting strict gaming schedules, engaging in physical activity, and ensuring a balance of offline activities, are also important components of treatment.

Medication: Are There Drug Options for Video Game Addictions?

Currently, there are no medications that are FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of video game addiction. However, some individuals with this addiction might be prescribed medications to treat underlying or co-existing mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. 

Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can alleviate some symptoms that might contribute to or worsen the addiction. It's important to consult with a psychiatrist or primary care provider to determine if medication is appropriate and to ensure that any prescribed drug is taken under proper medical supervision.

Seeking Treatment for Video Game Addiction

Recognizing the problem is the first step towards recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with video game addiction, it's important to seek professional help. Start by consulting with a mental health professional who can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend suitable treatments. 

Additionally, joining support groups where individuals share their experiences and coping strategies can be beneficial. These groups can offer both advice and the reassurance of being understood. Educating oneself about the nature of the addiction can also empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Tackling a video game addiction on your own can be challenging. Professional intervention provides the best chance for understanding, managing, and overcoming your addiction.


2022 Essential Facts About The Video Game Industry | Entertainment Software Association

Internet Gaming | American Psychiatric Association

Sexual Differences in Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD): From Psychological Features to Neuroanatomical Networks | National Library of Medicine

Identifying individuals in need of help for their uncontrolled gaming: A narrative review of concerns and comments regarding gaming disorder diagnostic criteria | National Library of Medicine

Loot boxes and problem gambling: Investigating the “gateway hypothesis” | ScienceDirect 

Problematic gaming behaviour and health-related outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis | Sage Journals

Efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy for internet gaming disorder | National Library of Medicine

Managing Gambling Addiction Relapses

Apr 12, 2024


U.S. Sports Betting Statistics April 2024: Legalization, growth & addiction rising

Apr 12, 2024


My Mom Has a Gambling Addiction: What to Do

Apr 8, 2024


Understanding In-Network and Out-of-Network Providers for Behavioral Addictions

Apr 1, 2024


Has America become a “society of gamblers”?

Mar 28, 2024


How Can I Stop My Child From Gambling

Mar 27, 2024


Birches Health Partners with BettorEdge

Mar 20, 2024


Birches Health Announces Partnership with SaharaBets

Mar 19, 2024


Gambling Addiction Rates Hit All-Time High in U.S.

Mar 13, 2024


Signs of Teen Gambling

Mar 13, 2024


Free Gambling Addiction Treatment

Feb 29, 2024


SNL Sports Betting sketch spotlights real Gambling Addiction issues 

Feb 26, 2024


New U.S. Gambling Stats: Record figures as Addiction also grows

Feb 22, 2024


What will be the social costs of increased gambling? Who will pay them?

Feb 19, 2024


Is it Legal to Bet on the Daytona 500?

Feb 16, 2024


Media Takes Note of America's Increase in Problem Gambling

Feb 15, 2024


What are the Psychological Effects of Gambling?

Jan 31, 2024


Is Day Trading Gambling?

Feb 11, 2024


What are the Different Types of Gamblers?

Feb 12, 2024


Understanding Behavior Disorders

Jan 23, 2024


The Gambling Addiction Recovery, Investment, And Treatment (GRIT) Act

Jan 14, 2024


What is the Cycle of Addiction and How to Break It

Jan 9, 2024


I Lost All My Money Gambling. What Now?

Dec 29, 2023


Your 2024 New Year's Resolution: Stop Sports Betting and Online Gambling

Dec 24, 2023


Why Do Addicts Relapse?

Dec 20, 2023


Is Gambling a Sin?

Dec 18, 2023


Staging a Gambling Intervention for a Loved One

Dec 13, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction in a Spouse

Nov 30, 2023


Gambling and Divorce: Statistics and Information

Nov 26, 2023


What is DFS Gambling?

Nov 19, 2023


Addiction Specialist: Helping You Overcome Addiction

Nov 18, 2023


Exploring the Different Types of Gambling

Nov 8, 2023


Technology Addiction: Signs and Treatment

Oct 30, 2023


Is Options Trading Gambling?

Oct 23, 2023


Gambling Addiction and Treatment

Oct 16, 2023


Sex Addiction Treatment and Therapy Options

Oct 14, 2023


Signs of Gambling Addiction

Oct 7, 2023


Is the Stock Market Gambling?

Sep 25, 2023


Tips for Finding a Gambling Rehab Center

Sep 24, 2023


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Pathological Gambling

Sep 23, 2023


What Causes Porn Addiction?

Sep 18, 2023


Video Game Addiction

Sep 16, 2023


Porn Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Sep 11, 2023


Gambling Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms & Signs

Aug 29, 2023


How to Stop Online Gambling

Aug 27, 2023


Does Medicare Cover Gambling Rehab?

Aug 19, 2023


Gambling and Dopamine

Aug 12, 2023


Porn Addiction Counseling

Aug 7, 2023


Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Jul 24, 2023


Signs of a Day Trading Problem

Jul 19, 2023


Why is Gambling Addictive?

Jul 18, 2023


The Arizona Lottery and Gambling

Jul 16, 2023


Is Poker Gambling?

Jul 15, 2023


Is Crypto Gambling?

Jul 14, 2023


Gambling and Sports Betting Among College Students

Jul 8, 2023


Updates made to gambling disorder across the DSM-III, DSM-IV, DSM-5

Updates Made to Gambling Disorder Clinical Criteria Between DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5

Jul 8, 2023

Cara Anderson

Combatting Gambling and Alcohol Addiction

Jun 30, 2023


Medication for Gambling Addiction

Jun 27, 2023


The Seven Types of Gamblers: Are You One of Them?

Jun 25, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Cara Anderson

Las Vegas - often called the gambling capital of the world

Exploring the History of Gambling in the US

Jun 17, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Gambling Treatment in Arizona

Jun 15, 2023


Voluntary Self Exclusion to Stop Online Gambling

Jun 15, 2023

Cara Anderson

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield Cover Gambling Treatment?

Jun 13, 2023


Gambling Addiction Hotline

Jun 5, 2023


How to Stop Gambling

Jun 1, 2023


Can Gambling Addiction Be Cured?

May 31, 2023


problem gambler worried about addiction

Why Is Gambling So Addictive?

May 30, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Medication that can cause gambling

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

May 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

A man who has regained control of his life by stopping gambling and online sports betting

How to Stop Gambling: Strategies for Regaining Control

May 21, 2023

Cara Anderson

This man stopped gambling by recognizing his online sports betting problem

How to Stop Gambling and Save Money

May 18, 2023

Cara Anderson

People celebrating being free of a gambling addiction

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

May 16, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

The Growing Phenomenon of Cryptocurrency Addiction: What Traders Need to Know About Crypto Addiction

Cryptocurrency Addiction

May 9, 2023

Tobias Jackson

The stock market graph of a day trader who has a day trading addiction

How Day Trading Can Create a Dangerous Addiction

May 4, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Younger individuals gathered around a computer talking about a gambling addiction meme

How Addictive Memes Have Fueled Problem Gamblers

May 2, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Man in the middle of taking a Do I have a Gambling Problem Quiz

Clinical Screening Tools and Quizzes to Answer the Question: "Do I have a Gambling Problem?"

May 1, 2023

Tobias Jackson

Insurance paperwork that Birches clients do not need to go through as Birches Health handles all administrative and payment matters for them!

Insurance Coverage for Gambling Addiction in 2023

Apr 29, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Cara Anderson

Man actualizing self care and manifesting his recovery journey from problem gambling and gambling addiction

Self Care for Problem Gamblers

Apr 26, 2023

Cara Anderson

Bad effects of glamorization of gambling in the media in films, tv shows, and podcasts

Glamorized Gambling and What To Be Aware Of

Apr 24, 2023

Elliott Rapaport

Therapist offering a problem gambler gambling addiction counseling and treatment

What is Problem Gambling?

Apr 20, 2023

Elliott Rapaport