Here, There, and Everywhere

Time management and organization skills from an ADD expert

Internet Gaming Disorder in DSM-5

A disorder for further study

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. Upon further research, the APA may or may not decide to make the disorder "official" in future editions of the DSM.  

The DSM-5 states that Internet Gaming Disorder is most common in male adolescents 12 to 20 years of age. According to studies it is thought that Internet Gaming Disorder is more prevalent in Asian countries than in North America and Europe (APA, 2013). 

Internet-based gambling is not included in the diagnostic criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder. This is because Internet-based gambling is already included in the Gambling Disorder diagnostic criteria. 

There are severity modifiers for Internet Gaming Disorder: mild, moderate, or severe. These modifiers are based on how much time is spent playing the games, and how much they impact a person’s overall functioning.

In summary, the diagnostic criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder include:

1.  Repetitive use of Internet-based games, often with other players, that leads to significant issues with functioning.  Five of the following criteria must be met within one year:

  1. Preoccupation or obsession with Internet games.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when not playing Internet games.
  3. A build-up of tolerance–more time needs to be spent playing the games.
  4. The person has tried to stop or curb playing Internet games, but has failed to do so.
  5. The person has had a loss of interest in other life activities, such as hobbies.
  6. A person has had continued overuse of Internet games even with the knowledge of how much they impact a person’s life.
  7. The person lied to others about his or her Internet game usage.
  8. The person uses Internet games to relieve anxiety or guilt–it’s a way to escape.
  9. The person has lost or put at risk and opportunity or relationship because of Internet games.  

Again, while Internet Gaming Disorder is not an "official" disorder in the DSM-5, the APA is encouraging further research on the disorder for possible inclusion in future editions of the DSM

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Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D., N.C.C., L.M.H.C., is the author of Making the Grade with ADD and ADD and Your Money. 

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