Video Game Addiction Treatment Scottsdale | Phoenix

Dr. Jack Shier, Psychiatrist in Scottsdale, AZ specializes in the treatment of video game addiction. Our private outpatient clinic offers a comprehensive psychiatric/medical assessment and treatment plan. Treatment may include medications, behavioral therapies or a combination of treatments.

What Is Internet Gaming Disorder?

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is characterized by an excessive use of the Internet to engage in games to the extent of significant impairment in social, occupational or educational functioning. Individuals with Internet gaming disorder often dedicate 8-10 hours of their day to gaming despite knowledge of other responsibilities, amounting to at least 30 hours per week. IGD may lead to physical symptoms of fatigue, migraines due to eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome and/or poor personal hygiene. It is not uncommon for these individuals go long periods of time without eating or sleeping.

IGD is most common in males between the ages of 11 and 17 years old; the disorder is less common in females.

What Are the Symptoms of Internet Gaming Disorder?

The DSM-5 provides the following proposed criteria for Internet gaming disorder:

Persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by five or more of the following in a 12-month period:

  1. Preoccupation with Internet games.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when Internet gaming is taken away.
  3. Tolerance – The need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in Internet games.
  4. Unsuccessful attempts to control the participation in Internet games.
  5. Loss of interests in previous hobbies and entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of, Internet games.
  6. Continued excessive use of Internet games despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
  7. Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of Internet gaming.
  8. Use of Internet games to escape or relieve a negative mood.
  9. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in Internet games.

What Is the Cause of Internet Gaming Disorder?

It is likely that Internet gaming disorder is caused by combination of biological and environmental factors. Research on addictive behaviors has shown that the excessive release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates pleasure, may influence the development of an addiction. It is suggested that the brains of individuals with IGD may release more dopamine than others’ while gaming, making Internet gaming more rewarding to them. These individuals thus associate pleasure with gaming and are more likely to play excessively to achieve that effect.

Some research has alluded to certain personality traits that are common in individuals with Internet gaming disorder such as neuroticism and openness. These individuals tend to score lower in areas of extraversion and agreeableness. Other mental health conditions, such as major depressive disorder, OCD and ADHD may also be associated with the development of Internet gaming disorder.

How Is Internet Gaming Disorder Diagnosed?

Internet gaming disorder is diagnosed through a biopsychosocial evaluation. Internet gaming disorder is a “Condition for Further Study” in the DSM-5 (APA 2013). This means that it is not an “official” disorder in the DSM, but one on which the American Psychiatric Association request additional research.

Internet Gaming Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy is the most common form of treatment for Internet gaming disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy and 12 step programs have shown to be beneficial. Other forms of therapy that may be used in the treatment of IGD include group or family therapy, behavior modification, dialectical behavioral therapy, equine therapy, expressive arts therapy and recreation therapy. Since Internet gaming disorder may occur comorbidly with other mental health conditions, these conditions may also be assessed in treatment.

How To Cope

  1. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help an individual manage Internet gaming disorder.
  2. Schedule – Come up with a schedule to limit the amount of time spent gaming.
  3. Relaxation techniques – Participating in mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can reduce an individual’s overall stress level and may help curb maladaptive urges to engage in Internet gaming.
  4. Exercise routine – 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise may help manage Internet gaming disorder by reducing anxiety and diverting an individual’s attention away from gaming.
  5. Good sleep hygiene – Healthy sleep patterns promote a stronger ability to maintain emotional equilibrium, making it easier to maintain stress and avoid Internet gaming.
  6. Increase number of social contacts that are not associated with Internet gaming/that do not promote Internet gaming.
  7. Hobbies – Try to engage in other hobbies/interests to limit the time spent gaming.
  8. Join a support group – Support groups will help you meet others with similar experiences, share coping strategies, and gain a sense empowerment and connection.

Last update: July 31, 2017

The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.