Mental disorders due to game addiction – An alarming situation

The rate of mental disorders caused by game addiction has been on the rise in recent years. This disease causes serious effects like stimulant addiction, but is rarely considered due to the limited understanding of the community.

mental disorder due to game addiction

Mental disorder due to game addiction is a worrying issue that needs more attention both now and in the future

Reality of game addiction in our country

Online games were born for the purpose of relaxation and entertainment. However, besides the positive sides, games on electronic devices can be completely addictive. In 2019 during the 25th annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO), game addiction was recognized as a form of mental disorder.

Game addiction not only affects the patient’s own health, but also threatens the body and life of those around due to violent and aggressive behaviors. Currently, online gaming addiction is considered a mental illness that needs to be examined and treated like other mental disorders.

Game addiction is defined as an uncontrollable desire to play games, spend a lot of time playing games, and always prioritize gaming over other activities in life. Game addicts are mainly children, adolescents and people in early adulthood.

In fact, any of us have a feeling of excitement and attraction when playing online games. However, this emotion only occurs for a certain time with the intensity within the allowable level.

Meanwhile, game addicts will experience the above symptoms with higher intensity and last for at least 1 month. From January 1, 2022 onwards, game addiction is officially considered a mental illness and there are diagnostic procedures, treatment protocols and preventive measures in accordance with medical regulations.

Statistics from Military Medical Academy 103 show that in the period from 2000 to 2010, the internet growth rate in Vietnam has increased 120 times. In which, 62% of people use the internet to play online games. And about 38% of children with youth spend more time playing games than studying and other necessities. Although there is no exact figure on the rate of mental disorders due to game addiction in our country, experts predict that this number will increase in the future if no preventive measures are taken.

Why can gaming addiction cause mental disorders?

A lot of people don’t believe that gaming addiction can cause mental disorders at all. In fact, the internet has only appeared in the last few decades, so the influence has not been deeply understood. Mental disorders due to game addiction were only mentioned from 2018 – 2019 and officially took effect from 2022. Therefore, the community’s understanding on this issue is quite limited.

Currently, experts have not been able to determine the specific cause of psychosis due to game addiction. However, studies have shown that the pathogenesis of this pathology has many similarities with depression.

When playing games, the brain continuously releases the hormone dopamine which creates feelings of euphoria, excitement, joy and satisfaction. This feeling urges to play the game continuously for many hours. However, the continuous production of dopamine increases the body’s threshold for adaptation. At this time, game addicts themselves will not feel anything fun and enjoyable in life except playing games.

Causes of mental disorders due to game addiction

The continuous increase of dopamine is a direct factor in the mental disorders caused by game addiction

As a result, the patient will ignore all activities in life in favor of playing games. In the long term, the brain has a significant decrease in serotonin levels at the brain’s synaptic cleft. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is important for physical and mental health. This neurotransmitter creates feelings of relaxation, excitement, joy, increases appetite and is a precursor for the pineal gland to produce the hormone melatonin – the hormone that induces sleep.

The drop in serotonin causes a variety of emotional and behavioral disturbances and gives rise to many physical symptoms. Because of the similar mechanism to depression, the treatment of video game addiction has many similarities with this disease. At present, experts have not yet determined whether depression or anxiety disorders are the cause or effect of game addiction.

Many experts support the theory that gaming addiction and depression and anxiety are interrelated problems. Some children with depression, anxiety, and excessive stress find online games to relieve their emotions. The feeling of excitement, excitement and joy that online games bring urges children to play games continuously to the point that they forget to eat or sleep. Gradually, children will show signs of game addiction along with depression.

Game addiction can also sometimes be a cause of depression. Because the continuous increase of dopamine will cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain – especially the phenomenon of serotonin reduction in the synaptic cleft. This is a direct mechanism of depression, so patients will appear depressed after a period of game addiction.

Recognizing mental disorders caused by game addiction

Game addiction psychosis currently affects about 10% of 15-30 year olds. Game addiction is defined when spending at least 2 hours a day playing games, lasting for more than 1 month and having all 2 groups of symptoms (first is addiction symptom group, second is depression symptom group). cold).

To detect mental disorders due to game addiction early, families need to pay attention to the child’s abnormal manifestations. Here are some common symptoms in children with psychosis due to game addiction:

1. Symptoms of game addiction

Symptoms of video game addiction are similar to drug addiction. Patients with gaming psychosis will have at least two of the following symptoms:

recognize mental disorders caused by game addiction

Game addicts always have a craving to play games and can’t control this feeling

  • Uncontrollable desire to play games: Similar to alcohol and drug addiction, patients with game addiction always have a craving to play games and cannot control this emotion. A common manifestation is spending a lot of time playing games, constantly talking about games, and gradually decreasing interest and interest in other aspects of life.
  • Non-stop gaming: When addicted to games, the feeling of excitement and excitement drives the patient to play the game for hours at a time. This situation is repeated for many days, causing a significant impact on learning and health. When the family complains and scolds, the patient often makes excuses by lying that he is seeking information for school and work.
  • No control over gaming time: Game addicts have almost no control over their own gaming time. Patients often play games continuously for many hours and sometimes do not pay attention to the time of studying, eating, sleeping, etc.
  • Not interested in other aspects: Game addicts are only interested in games, patients are no longer interested in any other aspects from school, family, friends, etc. Even many people don’t care about other aspects. bathing, personal hygiene or eating because I want to focus absolutely on playing games.
  • Spend a lot of money on playing games: Game addicts often spend a lot of money to buy monitors, computers, etc. to serve playing games. Some people even lie to their families to get money for this hobby.
  • Hide emotions by playing games: A common trait among game addicts is to always turn to games when faced with uncomfortable emotions, stress, and unexpected life situations. They immerse themselves in the virtual world to escape the pressures and responsibilities of real life.
  • Emotional instability: When playing games, the patient has a feeling of excitement and euphoria. Soon, however, the person can become melancholic, sad, and frustrated. Many game addicts experience depression most of the day and only feel happy while playing games.

2. Depressive symptom group

In addition to the group of symptoms of addiction, patients with game addiction also have depression related to the reduction of serotonin in the synaptic cleft. These symptoms come on slowly and tend to get worse over time.

signs of mental disorder due to game addiction

People with mental disorders due to game addiction also have depression with unstable emotions and low mood

Group of common depressive symptoms in patients with psychosis due to game addiction:

  • Low mood: The most typical sign of depression is low mood. If you look closely, you will see that the patient has a sad, bewildered, melancholy and monotonous face. Occasionally, the patient may become irritable or angry for some reason. However, the person soon returns to a low mood, which lasts most of the day.
  • Loss of interest and interest: Game addicts often feel only interested in playing games and have almost no interest in any aspect of their life – including their former interests. At school age, children often neglect their studies, do not eat or sleep, but spend time during the day immersed in online games.
  • Anorexia, poor eating: Serotonin governs appetite and creates appetite when eating. A decrease in serotonin will cause patients to lose their appetite and eat poorly. Even many people play games for days without sleeping or eating. Some people only eat for energy, so they eat very little and most have weight loss.
  • Insomnia: A common feature of game addicts is sleeping very little, on average only sleeping about 2 hours a day. The first is because a decrease in serotonin affects melatonin levels (the hormone that induces relaxation and sleep). The second is because the patient himself does not want to sleep, and instead uses his sleep time to play online games.
  • Psychomotor disorders: In addition to emotional manifestations, game addicts will also have psychomotor disorders with manifestations such as lethargy, lack of vitality, slow performance of activities, etc. However, the patient’s reaction became more responsive when playing the game. If gaming is forbidden, the patient will move around constantly, becoming agitated, angry, and irritable.
  • Reduced energy: Reduced energy is one of the common signs of people with psychosis due to game addiction. The reason is because the lack of serotonin makes the body sluggish and tired. In addition, lack of sleep, loss of appetite and lack of exercise are also causes of this phenomenon.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness: Except when playing games, the rest of the time patients are often immersed in sadness and pessimism. Patients often think of themselves as useless because they cannot do anything useful. They may also perceive game addiction as wrong but have no incentive to change. When faced with feelings of despair and grief, they continued to play games to ease their mood. However, after stopping playing the game, guilt and worthlessness reappeared with more severity than before. In the long run, the patient loses the ability to be critical of his or her gaming addiction.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions: Game addicts often find it difficult to concentrate, think slowly, and have difficulty making even unimportant decisions. The reason is because only focusing on the game and not paying attention to other issues. Moreover, because they have not thought for a long time, the brain will become slower than before. In addition, the state of neglecting to study, less communication, living a closed life, etc. also makes patients lose knowledge and not have enough capacity to make judgments and decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors: Guilt will increase over time, causing the patient to have thoughts of death. They appear pessimistic, negative about life and completely lose positive emotions. In the long run, these feelings accumulate and pile up, prompting the person to commit suicide to free themselves.

The symptoms of game addiction are often quite obvious. If paying attention, families and schools will easily recognize. However, for adults, the expression will be more difficult to recognize.

Effects of mental disorders due to game addiction

Mental disorders caused by game addiction greatly affect health and quality of life. In fact, many people are still unaware of the severity of this disease. People simply think that game addiction is a fleeting feeling of pleasure and excitement. However, in essence, game addiction has a heavy impact not inferior to drug addiction and alcoholism.

The first effect of game addiction is neglecting schoolwork, work leading to loss of knowledge, incapacity and facing unemployment, difficulty finding a job. Children addicted to games can grow up to depend on their families because they are completely unable to work.

Game addiction makes children lose their thinking, creativity and flexibility. In fact, many people have entered adulthood, but their wisdom is only in their teens. This shows that game addiction seriously affects intellectual development. Adult game addicts also gradually become slow when thinking, thinking, having difficulty concentrating and losing judgment due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

In addition, many game addicts have reckless and aggressive behaviors for the purpose of having money to play games. Without intervention, the frequency and extent of behaviors will increase over time.

Effects of mental disorders due to game addiction

Game addiction increases the prevalence of alcoholism, smoking, drug use and other addictive substances

In recent years, it is not difficult to find articles with content related to assaulting and even killing others just for the sake of money to play games. In addition, game addiction also increases the rate of alcoholism, smoking, drug use and illegal behavior.

On the other hand, online gaming addiction also causes physical exhaustion. Because of the continuous gaming, the patients were sleep deprived and did not eat. Over time, health declines, weight loss, pale and sluggish people. There are even some people who have died from exhaustion because of playing games for many days in a row.

The guilt and worthlessness caused by game addiction prompts the patient to think about death. Patients may commit suicide to free themselves from suffering and problems in life. In general, alcohol-related psychosis causes a heavy burden on the patient’s family and society.

Treatment of mental disorders caused by online game addiction

As soon as a child shows signs of addiction to video games, the family should take the child to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Currently, research on mental disorders caused by game addiction is incomplete. Therefore, the diagnosis will be based on the ICD-10 criteria and the physician’s experience.

Similar to other addictions, online gaming addiction will be treated through 2 stages: the attack phase and the reinforcement phase. Specific treatment regimen will be individualized depending on the situation of each case.

1. General principles

The principle when treating mental disorders caused by game addiction is to completely stop exposure to the internet in general and games in particular. Compared to alcohol and drug addiction, game addiction is more difficult to quit because the internet has become an indispensable part of modern life.

In addition to isolating the patient from the internet, the patient will be treated with pharmacotherapy. After that, consolidation treatment with medication and psycho-social therapy is needed. The duration of consolidation treatment is at least 6 years and sometimes treatment is required until the patient reaches 30 years of age.

2. Attack treatment

Attack treatment lasts for 4 weeks with the main method being the use of drugs. Take medication to help manage symptoms of depression and gaming withdrawal. Usually, the patient will be treated as an inpatient during the attack phase to avoid overstimulation, aggression, and injury to those around them.

Treatment of mental disorders caused by game addiction

Medications are used during an attack to quickly control addiction and depressive symptoms

Specific treatment regimens for mental disorders caused by game addiction:

Week 1:

  • Zosert 100mg, 1 tablet / time / day (taken in the evening)
  • Quetiapine 0.3, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)
  • Clonazepam 2mg, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)

Week 2:

  • Quetiapine 0.3, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)
  • Zosert 100mg, take 1 tablet/day (taken in the evening)
  • Clonazepam 2mg, take ½ tablet / day (take ¼ tablet in the morning, take ¼ tablet in the evening)

Week 3:

  • Quetiapine 0.3, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)
  • Zosert 100mg, take 1 tablet / day (take 1 time in the evening)
  • Clonazepam 2mg, take ¼ tablet/day (take tablet at night)

Week 4:

  • Quetiapine 0.3, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)
  • Zosert 100mg, use 2 tablets / day (take 1 tablet in the evening and 1 tablet in the evening)

3. Consolidation treatment

  • After aggressive treatment, patients will receive reinforcement treatment to prevent relapse – especially when access to the internet in today’s life is extremely easy. To prevent relapse, the patient will be prescribed medication and psychosocial interventions.


  • Quetiapine 0.2, use 2 tablets / day (1 tablet in the morning, 1 tablet in the evening)
  • Zosert 100mg, take 1 tablet / day (take 1 time in the evening)

Psychosocial therapies:

Psychosocial therapy has a very important role in the reinforcement treatment of addictions, including video game addiction. This therapy helps patients to be clearly aware of the harmful effects of online games, form motivation and aim for sustainable values ​​in life. The process of consolidation treatment requires the patient’s own perseverance and active support from the family.

– Giving up the internet:

Quitting the internet is the single most important factor in preventing relapse. Patients are forced to completely isolate themselves from the internet and not be contacted for even a minute. Ideally, the family should cut off the internet so that the sick person has no chance to contact.

In case the work of family members requires the internet, it is recommended to register for 3G, 4G to facilitate use and ensure the effectiveness of the treatment process. In addition, the family should also control the patient to avoid the patient using the internet in other places.

Because of the lack of access to the internet, the patient was forced to change careers and could only do manual work. Children addicted to video games will have to attend special education institutions to prevent relapse.

– Increase physical activity:

Physical activity will help patients improve their physical and mental health. Exercising, camping, climbing, etc. can repair brain damage and bring the concentration of neurotransmitters back to balance. These activities play a very important role in helping patients with game addiction recover their health and lead a healthy, scientific lifestyle.

Besides, physical activity also helps relieve stress by stimulating the brain to produce endorphins. Practicing this habit will help patients know how to relieve stress and healthy emotions instead of drinking, smoking and playing games like before.

Cultural and artistic activities:

Game addicts themselves often lose interest in everything around, so they don’t have any motivation. To help the patient develop motivation and confidence in life, the family should encourage the patient to join clubs of recitation, singing, dancing, painting, etc.

overcome mental disorder caused by game addiction

Cultural and artistic activities play an important role in preventing relapse

These activities will gradually arouse interest, interest and gradually reduce interest in online games. In the long run, patients can identify interests and have a clear direction about their future career.


Psychotherapy is part of a treatment plan for game addiction psychosis. The specialist will help the patient overcome the craving to play games, gain a deeper understanding of the effects and serious consequences of this disease.

In addition, psychotherapy also helps to improve depressive symptoms in patients with game addiction. At the same time, equip the patient with effective and healthy ways to release emotions. Help patients know how to face and overcome unfavorable conditions in life instead of avoiding them by immersing themselves in the virtual world.

During the period of consolidation treatment, the family needs support so that the patient can overcome the desire to play games and find motivation and joy in life. Avoid the situation of criticism, constant scolding that makes the patient sad and miserable, and look to games as a way to relieve emotions.

Mental disorders due to game addiction have become a concern for the health and lives of children, adolescents and young people. Raising awareness about this disease will help patients have the opportunity to be examined and treated promptly. In addition, families and schools also need to take measures to prevent game addiction in school-age children.

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