Video game addiction treated by psychotherapy

The ability to play video games has become a widespread habit and an important aspect of everyday life, easily accessible via smartphone and computer. The video game addiction may cause significant discomfort, leading to social isolation and significant problems in education and/or work.

Its extremism is represented by a syndrome called Hikikomori, discovered in Japan and characterized by social withdrawal, absence of emotional sharing, compulsive use of internet and/or video games. Hikikomori syndrome has symptoms in common with schizophrenia: specifically the clinical manifestations that precede the onset of a psychotic disorder and negative symptoms (Stip et al., 2016).

According to various scientific research, prolonged exposure to video games would have harmful effects on the central nervous system, determining tolerance and abstinence in a manner very similar to drugs.

Symptoms such as insomnia and difficulty in attention and concentration, in fact, would seem very common among adolescents who frequently play video games or who use social networks.

Video titled “Online Gaming Addiction-HD documentary”, uploaded on youtube by Train your Brain TV on 2018, 28th of august:

The goal of a study was to examine the association between nighttime cell phone use and sleep disorders among Japanese teenagers. A total of 95680 teenagers were recruited in the research. The daily use of the mobile phone, even if only for short periods of time, was expressed by 84.4% of interviewed subjects. 8.3% reported using their mobile phones every day to call while 17.6% said they used it during day and night hours to send text messages.

The results of the study showed that the use of mobile phones at night was associated with shorter sleep duration, poor quality sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness or insomnia (Munezawa et al., 2011).

The hypothesis that excessive use of the mobile phone could affect the quality and duration of night sleep would seem to be confirmed even in children. Limiting the availability of mobile phones in children’s rooms discouraging their night use can be a valid strategy to promote sleep and reduce childhood obesity (Chahal et al., 2013).

When teenagers give up important aspects of their life to play video games, it is time to ask for help from a psychotherapist. Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is considered the treatment of first choice in video game addiction (Stip et al., 2016). Physical exercises may help to strengthen self-esteem modulating cerebral neurophysiology (Nishida et al., 2016).


Chahal H et al. Availability and night-time use of electronic entertainment and communication devices are associated with short sleep duration and obesity among Canadian children (2013). Pediatr Obes. 8(1): 42-51.

Munezawa T et al. The association between use of mobile phones after lights out and sleep disturbances among Japanese adolescents: a nationwide cross-sectional survey (2011). Sleep. 34(8): 1013-20

Nishida M et al. Jogging Therapy for Hikikomori Social Withdrawal and Increased Cerebral Hemodynamics: A Case Report (2016). Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health.12:38-42. ECollection 2016.

Stip E et al. Internet Addiction, Hikikomori Syndrome, and the Prodromal Phase of Psychosis (2016). Front Psychiatry. 7:6. eCollection 2016.

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