Could video game playing be an addiction? Yes, says the Center for On-line Addiction -- at least when it becomes excessive, the gamer is overwhelmed with thoughts of gaming while engaging in non-gaming activities, the gamer lies about time spent gaming and feels anxious or irritable when not gaming. These criteria are similar to the criteria for compulsive gambling.
Addicted gamers are typically male and most are under the age of 30. While the cause of gaming addiction is unclear, mental health professionals believe it may be similar to other impulse control disorders. The act of gaming elevates dopamine levels, a feel-good, mood altering chemical our brain produces. Gaming can also give a person who may have poor self-esteem or trouble socializing a way to escape daily life or even a way to cope with depression and anxiety symptoms.