What are the signs and symptoms of gaming addiction?
Gaming addiction is associated with a wide range of symptoms, which can have far-reaching consequences and cause problems in all areas of your life.
Gaming addiction treatment at Life Works in Surrey aims to empower you to address the underlying causes and triggers for your compulsive gaming, and achieve the best possible post-treatment outcomes.
As well as playing video games on a regular and ongoing basis, and in a way that could be considered excessive, the following are all signs that you, or someone that you know, may be struggling with compulsive gaming.
Behavioural/social symptoms of gaming addiction:
- Obsessive thoughts about gaming – you have become so preoccupied by the idea of gaming that you experience overwhelming cravings for your next gaming session, or repeatedly daydream about previous gaming sessions. This obsession can then interfere in major aspects of your life such as your work performance as well as your physical and mental health
- Feeling as though you have lost control over how much you play video games, and finding that you’re unable to stop, no matter how much you might want to
- Continuing with your gaming behaviours, despite the negative effects that this has had on your life
- Gaming for longer than you had planned – you frequently find that hours and hours go by without you even realising
- Strained or ruined relationships as a result of your constant gaming
- Poor performance and/or attendance at work, as gaming has taken over your life
- Avoiding contact with family and friends, leading to social isolation
- Concealing the amount of time you spend gaming from family members and loved ones
- Denying that you have a problem, to yourself and others
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that you previously enjoyed
Psychological symptoms of gaming addiction:
- Turning to gaming in order to alter low mood, deal with difficult emotions or to mask underlying symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. The ‘feel good’ chemicals that are released in the brain when you’re gaming can lead you to build a tolerance to this
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and restlessness when you haven’t played video games for a certain amount of time, or if you are unable to play for as long as you want to
- Mood swings
- Increased temper and irritability
- Inability to track the passage of time when gaming
- Exacerbation of any existing mental health problems
Physical symptoms of gaming addiction:
- Sleep deprivation due to playing video games well into the night
- Headaches and other symptoms of dehydration
- Poor nutrition
What are the long-term effects of gaming addiction?
Gaming addiction can also result in a whole host of long-term negative effects such as:
- Strained or ruined relationships
- Family breakdowns
- Job loss and unemployment
This page was reviewed by Robin Clayton, Primary Therapist, (BACP, ATSAC) in September 2021.