World Health Org. classifies 'gaming disorder' as mental health condition

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WOODBURY -

The World Health Organization says that compulsively playing video games qualifies as a mental health condition.

The update was included in the United Nations health agency's latest revision to its disease classification manual.

WHO says it accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to "the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world."

The agency says classifying "gaming disorder" as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts are quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.

Long Island psychologist Dr. Curtis Reisinger says there's not a specific amount of time spent playing that classifies gaming as a disorder, but it depends on the impact to a players' daily life.

“A successful game also allows you to be immersed in it. So essentially your surroundings, your schoolwork, your work if you have a job -- become less important.” Reisinger says.

The American Psychiatric Association has not yet deemed gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said that it's "a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion" in its own diagnostic manual.

Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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