Gaming disorder now a WHO-recognized disease, but US healthcare system not prepared for treatment

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The World Health Organization on June 18 included "Gaming Disorder" in a draft of the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, causing many healthcare leaders to question whether  the U.S. healthcare system is ready to treat patients with the disorder, according to The New York Times.

Here are five things to know.

1. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association included "Internet Gaming Disorder" in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a condition to further explore. However, Internet Gaming Disorder was met with skepticism from health professionals and psychologists.

2. Gaming disorder entails any gaming behaviour that leads to distress or significant impairment.

"I have patients who come in suffering from an addiction to Candy Crush Saga, and they're substantially similar to people who come in with a cocaine disorder," Petros Levounis, MD, chairman of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in , told NYT. "Their lives are ruined, their interpersonal relationships suffer, their physical condition suffers."

3. Many individuals with gaming disorders seek the help of addiction therapists and specialists for treatment. However, there are few accreditation programs for specialists to treat these disorders, and insurers offer little coverage for treatment.

"We don't know how to treat gaming disorder," Nancy Petry, PhD, an addiction expert at the University of Connecticut in Storrs Connecticut, told NYT. "It's such a new condition and phenomenon."

4. The WHO hopes an official classification of gaming disorder will  legitimize the disease within the U.S. healthcare system, allowing affected individuals to seek and receive treatment without scrutiny.

“It’s going to untie our hands in terms of treatment, in that we’ll be able to treat patients and get reimbursed," Dr. Levounis told NYT. "We won't have to go dancing around the issue, calling it depression or anxiety or some other consequence of the issue but not the issue itself."

5. The WHO plans to formally adopt gaming disorder as a disease classification next year.

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