The inclusion of Internet Gaming Disorder as a preliminary diagnosis subsumed in Section III of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has provoked mixed reactions. On the one hand, it has been appreciated as an important sign stressing the negative health-related impact of that disorder. Likewise, the definition of diagnostic criteria helps scientists and clinicians to refer to mandatory indicators associated with a health problem. On the other hand, it has been objected that this new diagnosis bears the danger of pathologizing normal behaviors that are a feature of healthy recreational activity for many people. However, the existence of diagnostic criteria is meant to avoid this danger. This emphasizes the necessity of being able to refer to as accurate defined criteria as possible. In its current version, the DSM criteria display not only strengths but also ambiguities. Both types will be discussed and necessary ideas to resolve those ambiguities will be presented for further research.
The proposed inclusion of Internet gaming disorder (IGD) into the upcoming ICD-11 has caused mixed reactions. Having a sound diagnostic framework for defining this new phenomenon has been applauded but concerns have risen regarding overpathologizing a mere pastime activity. The review by Aarseth et al. (2016) provides a fine but one-sided impression on IGD. What has been totally left out in the argumentation is the clinical perspective. Although the concerns depicted must not be ignored, the conclusion provided by the authors is reflecting quite subjective speculations while objectivity would rather be needful.
Behavioral addictions and bipolar disorders have a certain probability of co-occurrence. While the presence of a manic episode has been defined as an exclusion criterion for gambling disorder, no such exclusion has been formulated for Internet addiction.
A clinical sample of 368 treatment seekers presenting with excessive to addictive Internet use was screened for bipolar spectrum disorders using the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. Psychopathology was assessed by the Symptom Checklist 90R and a clinical interview was administered to screen for comorbid disorders.
Comorbid bipolar disorders were more frequent in patients meeting criteria for Internet addiction (30.9%) than among the excessive users (5.6%). This subgroup showed heightened psychopathological symptoms, including substance use disorders, affective disorders and personality disorders. Further differences were found regarding frequency of Internet use regarding social networking sites and online-pornography.
Patients with Internet addiction have a heightened probability for meeting criteria of bipolar disorders. It is not possible to draw conclusions regarding the direction of this association but it is recommended to implement screening for bipolar disorders in patients presenting with Internet addiction.
Similar to gambling disorder, it might prove necessary to subsume bipolar disorders as an exclusion criterion for the future criteria of Internet addiction.
Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) and other Internet-related disorders (IRDs) have become growing health concerns in our today’s lives. Based on defined diagnostic criteria, IGD has been recognized as a condition for further research in the DSM-5; however, other IRDs have been excluded. Since the release of the DSM-5, representativeness and appropriateness of the nine diagnostic criteria have been debated. Although some first evidence has been published to evaluate these criteria, our knowledge is still limited. Thus, the purpose of this study was to provide data on the clinical validity of the DSM-5 criteria for IGD and other types of IRD. We were also interested in examining the additional diagnostic validity of craving that is currently not being considered in the DSM-5.
Analyses on a sample of n = 166 treatment seekers for IRDs were performed. The clinician’s diagnosis was used as a main reference for determining the DSM criteria’s diagnostic performance. Secondary criteria (depression and anxiety) were defined as indicators for the construct validity.
The overall diagnostic accuracy ranged between 76.6% for deceiving and 92% for loss of control and craving. Considerable differences occurred in the degree of sensitivity and specificity between the single criteria. No particular differences were found for the applicability of the criteria to other forms of IRDs.
Discussion and conclusions
Our results confirm the validity of the DSM criteria. However, the diagnostic utility of the criterion escaping aversive moods is critically discussed. Considering craving as an additional diagnostic indicator might be recommendable.
Gambling disorder is a significant public health concern. Especially, male minors have been shown to gamble in a problematic way, despite legal prohibitions.
We examined representative samples of students aged from 12 to 18 years (N = 9,309) in two German federal states to provide prevalence data and clinical description of risk factors for problematic gambling.
We found that about 40% of the adolescents reported engaging in gambling activities within the past 12 months and found prevalence rates of 1.7% and 2.2% for problematic gambling. Especially, use of online gambling and slot machines was found to be related to problematic gambling. Male adolescents with a migration background were of higher risk for problematic gambling and psychopathological symptoms were significantly elevated among that group.
The results indicate that participation in gambling activities is common among underaged adolescents and that prevalence of problematic gambling exceeds rates of adults. Similarly, problematic gambling is associated with increased psychopathological strain.
Given that a high proportion of adult gamblers report having started gambling in adolescents, our data emphasize the need for prevention and early intervention strategies for problematic gambling.
According to ICD-11 gaming disorder is currently defined as a behavioral addiction. While our understanding of crucial aspects of this new condition including other subtypes of internet use disorders is growing, less is known about treatment strategies and their effectiveness. Particularly, dimensions of life satisfaction and their meaning for internet use disorders are poorly investigated. The aim of this study was addressing the role of life satisfaction dimensions in a randomized controlled trial. We examined life satisfaction as an additional treatment outcome and investigated in how far life satisfaction is predictive for symptom reduction and related to personality traits.
A multicenter randomized controlled trial with three measure points (baseline, post-treatment, 6-month follow-up) was conducted based on N = 143 patients aged 17 and above meeting diagnostic criteria for internet use disorders. A cognitive-behavioral disorder specific intervention was applied in n = 72 and compared to a wait list control (n = 71). Endpoints included symptoms of internet use disorders, psychosocial functioning, and life satisfaction. Personality traits were assessed as moderating factors.
Life satisfaction (η2 = 0.106) and health satisfaction (η2 = 0.173) significantly increased in the intervention group with large effect sizes. Decreasing symptoms of internet use disorders at follow-up were predicted by life satisfaction at post-treatment (ß = −0.51) with extraversion (B = 1.606) and openness (B = 2.069) moderating this association.
Life satisfaction yields additional value as a secondary treatment outcome in internet use disorders and can be therapeutically addressed in order to stabilize treatment effects in the long run. Our study indicates that existing treatment strategies might benefit from explicitly addressing and enhancing psychosocial resources in order to prevent relapses in patients.
Gaming activities have conferred numerous benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some individuals may be at greater risk of problem gaming due to disruption to adaptive routines, increased anxiety and/or depression, and social isolation. This paper presents a summary of 2019–2021 service data from specialist addiction centers in Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Treatment demand for gaming disorder has exceeded service capacity during the pandemic, with significant service access issues. These data highlight the need for adaptability of gaming disorder services and greater resources and funding to respond effectively in future public health crises.