International Classification of Diseases: WHO classifies gaming addiction as mental health disorder

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified gaming addiction as mental health disorder in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11. This is as per draft of new document that was released in December 2017. This classification will be used by health professionals across the globe to uniformly diagnose and classify risks for addictive gaming behaviour.

WHO definition of gaming addiction

WHO defines gaming disorder as pattern of gaming behaviour (video-gaming or digital-gaming) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increased priority given to gaming over other activities to such extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities. It also includes continuation or escalation of gaming despite occurrence of negative consequences. For its diagnosis, behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and normally have been evident for at least 12 months.


Mental health experts and psychiatrists believe that internet and gaming addiction though affecting small population now, has become emerging psychological malady and it is likely to be major mental health problem in the coming years. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders-V, a diagnostic bible for mental health professionals published by American Psychiatric Association already has classified gaming disorder as mental health condition. Nearly 7% of population studied for gaming and internet addiction have exhibited depressive symptoms, somatisation and anxiety, including behavioural changes and sleep disturbances.

International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

ICD is the international standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes. Its full official name is International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. It is maintained by WHO and is revised periodically.
ICD serves as foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide. It is designed as health care classification system to provide system of diagnostic codes for classifying diseases, including nuanced classifications of wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or disease.
It provides common language that allows health professionals to share health information across the globe. It contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death.
It maps health conditions to corresponding generic categories together with specific variations, assigning for these designated code, up to six characters long. It also promotes international comparability in collection, processing, classification, and presentation of these statistics.


It will be presented at World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by WHO member states, and it will come into effect on January 1, 2022. It also has for first time added chapter on traditional systems of medicine. This will pave way for such treatments to be covered by insurance as insurance reimbursements based on ICD coding.



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