Addictions are common across the globe. Some people are addicted to alcohol, others to drugs, and there are also people with gambling addiction. Different types of addictions exist, and most of them are taken seriously; however, one of them is not – video game addiction.
Although video game addiction isn't considered as serious as other types of addictive disorders, the reality is different. This is a serious issue, and it affects more and more people on a global scale each day.
Numbers show that more than two billion people play video games worldwide. About 3–4% of gamers are addicted to video games. This problem affects 8.5% of youth. While these percentages may not seem a lot, they account for approximately 60 million people.
Since the popularity of video games shows no signs of slowing down, and millions of people of all ages exhibit symptoms of addiction, the severity of video game addiction is apparent.
Like other forms of addiction, video game addiction affects a person’s quality of life. It also affects other people in their lives, such as their friends and family members.
Fortunately, video game addiction in children and adults is treatable. The most effective approach to recovery from video game addiction is therapy. Read on to learn more about the role of video game addiction therapy as well as the benefits of online therapy sessions.
What Are the Symptoms of Video Game Addiction?
The most common video game addiction symptoms include:
- Continuing to play video games despite them causing negative consequences
- Feeling bad, irritable, or restless when you can’t play
- Thinking about video games when you’re not playing
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop playing or reduce the amount of time spent playing
- Using video games as an escape from negative feelings and moods
- Lying to other people about your gaming habits
- Problems at work, school, or home due to video games
- Lack of interest in other activities
- Social isolation in favor of playing video games
Besides the above symptoms, video game addiction manifests itself through physical symptoms as well. These include fatigue, migraines due to eye strain and intense concentration, poor personal hygiene, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Causes Video Game Addiction?
Generally speaking, addiction results from changes in the brain’s reward system where certain behaviors or substances trigger the release of excessive amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine. A person repeats certain behaviors or uses certain substances more and more to experience feelings of euphoria. As they develop tolerance to the addictive agent, they need higher amounts to feel the same effects. This paves the way to addiction.
Not every person who plays video games is going to have a video game addiction. The exact reason some people develop video game addiction is unclear. Besides changes in the brain's circuitry, video game addiction is also associated with genetic and environmental factors.
Common factors that increase one’s risk of developing video game addiction include:
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety, depression, or neuroticism
- Feeling neglected or lonely
- Having been subjected to authoritarian parenting
- History of abuse and trauma
- History of mental disorders
- Aggressive personality
- Being male
Why Is Video Game Addiction Therapy Needed?
Video game addiction is not harmless. Like other types of addiction, it has a major impact on a person’s psychological well-being. Studies show that people with video game addiction are more prone to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and decreased psychological well-being.
In other words, video game addicts tend to have poorer mental health and cognitive functioning. They also have increased emotional difficulties and social isolation.
Due to the significant impact of video game addiction on mental health, therapy is crucial. The main goal is to protect a person’s mental health and support them on their road to recovery.
What Is Video Game Addiction Therapy Like?
Therapy is vital for the treatment of video game addiction. The reason is simple; addiction isn’t something most people can treat on their own. Strong cravings to play video games increase the risk of relapse.
Several psychological factors can trigger the relapse, such as stressful times or dealing with certain people in life. The main goal of therapy is to help you cope with these triggers in order to resist engaging in harmful gaming behaviors again.
Therapy can help you handle your stress and traumas. By creating a strong therapeutic relationship, the therapist guides you on your journey toward recovery. Therapy sessions are a safe place where you can talk about your mental health problems, video games, and the potential causes behind your video game addiction. Therapists don’t judge; they help you acknowledge the presence of the problem and work closely with you to solve it in the best way possible.
There are various approaches for the treatment of video game addiction.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps you manage problems by changing the way you think or behave. During CBT sessions, the therapist helps you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a healthy manner. In other words, you slowly learn how to adopt more positive behaviors and thoughts.
According to a study in the journal Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, CBT is indeed effective as a form of video game addiction treatment. In the study, participants who underwent CBT exhibited greater improvement in internet gaming disorder compared to their counterparts. Participants from the CBT group also experienced a greater reduction in anxiety, impulsivity, and social avoidance.
During CBT sessions, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and resist the cravings to play video games, adopt skills to cope with stressful situations, identify ways to manage your emotions, and resolve family or relationship problems.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
DBT is a type of CBT that aims to teach you how to live in the moment, regulate your emotions, develop healthy ways to manage stress, and improve your relationships. Initially, DBT was developed to treat borderline personality disorder. Today, it is used for helping people with different mental health problems, including video game addiction.
During DBT sessions, a therapist and client work together to resolve contradictions between change and self-acceptance to make positive changes.
The core of DBT is mindfulness, which helps a person live in the moment. Mindfulness enables you to pay attention to what’s happening inside – your thoughts and feelings. This skill helps you slow down and focus on healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with emotional pain.
For a person with addiction, mindfulness training is necessary because it can aid recovery by acting on a psychophysiological process crucial to reward processing and self-regulation. Practicing mindfulness could help you stop thinking about video games.
Online therapy is one of the most convenient approaches to improving mental health or treating video game addiction today. The pandemic changed the way our world functions. While we are advised to limit social interaction, our mental health isn't going to wait for the world to return to “normal.” We need to be proactive at all times.
Online counseling is a practical solution for people who want to stay safe while working on their mental health. Online therapy for game addiction works just like “standard” face-to-face counseling; you work with your therapist through regular sessions.
You can have video game addiction therapy from the comfort of your home, at work, or anywhere else that suits you. The best thing of all is that you get the most suitable therapist for your needs, and you can change the therapist whenever you want. Their location is irrelevant, which is yet another plus of online therapy.
Starting Your Recovery
Video game addiction is often overlooked or even scoffed at but is a serious problem that requires proper treatment. Therapy is the best approach for video game addiction treatment, especially if you also have another mental health disorder.
Being addicted to video games can negatively affect your life. It’s never too late to reach out and work on your recovery with professional assistance. If you want to work on your video game addiction without physically attending sessions, or if you prefer to remain anonymous, online therapy is the best option for you.