IamA Harvard-trained Addiction Psychiatrist with a focus on video game addiction, here to answer questions about gaming & mental health. AMA!
My name is Alok Kanojia, and I'm a psychiatrist working in the Addictions division of McLean hospital, here to answer your questions about mental health & gaming.
My short bio:
I almost failed out of college due to excessive video gaming, and after spending some time studying meditation & Eastern medicine, eventually ended up training to be a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, where I now serve as faculty.
Throughout my professional training, I was surprised by the absence of training in video game addiction. Three years ago, I started spending nights and weekends trying to help gamers gain control of their lives.
I now work in the Addiction division of McLean Hospital, the #1 Psychiatric Hospital according to US News and World report (Source).
In my free time, I try to help gamers move from problematic gaming to a balanced life where they are moving towards their goals, but still having fun playing games (if that's what they want).
Video game addiction affects between 2-7% of the population, conserved worldwide. In one study from Germany that looked at people between the ages of 12-25, about 5.7% met criteria (with 8.4% of males meeting criteria. (Source)
In the United States alone, there are between ~10-30 million people who meet criteria for video game addiction.
In light of yesterday's tragedies in Jacksonville, people tend to blame gaming for all sorts of things. I don't think this is very fair. In my experience, gaming can have a profound positive or negative in someone's life.
I am here to answer your questions about mental health & gaming, or video game addiction. AMA!
My Proof: https://truepic.com/j4j9h9dl
EDIT #5: The number of people asking for help is overwhelming. I knew this was a big problem, I cited statistics, but it is actually destroying me emotionally to hear about how real you guys are, and how so many of you are suffering. When this AMA started out, I felt comfortable asking people to PM if they needed help, but this has post has blown up, and there's no way I can individually help you all. I'm sorry. I'm just one human being, and I only have two hands, and I only have 24 hours in a day.
But I'm also pissed off. Because this problem is real, and people are asking for help, and even though I can't individually help you guys, there's got to be something I can do. People have suggested writing a book. Maybe I'll do a youtube lecture series, or a podcast, some kind of voice chat group therapy thing, or something else like that. I have no idea how to do those. But I promise you, I will do something.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
If you need help, there are a few resources to consider:
If you want to find a therapist, the best way is to contact your insurance company and ask for providers in your area that accept your insurance. If you feel you're struggling with depression, anxiety, or gaming addiction, I highly recommend you do this.
If you know anything about making a podcast or youtube series or anything like that, and are willing to help, please let me know via PM. The less stuff I have to learn, the more I can focus on content.
Edit #6: Mods say I can't post the google form link. Sorry guys. I'm working with them to see if there is an alternate solution to get you guys information down the road. I guess follow me on twitter? @kanojiamd. I haven't really used it, but I guess I'll start now.
Actually, if you need resources or help, please just email me @ [email protected]. I'm not big into social media.
If you are in the Boston area and need help, please include "Boston" in the subject line to [email protected]. I think I'm going to put together a free workshop in the area.
Edit #7: Just a disclaimer that I cannot dispense true medical advice over the internet. If you really think you have a problem find a therapist per Edit 5. I also am not representing Harvard or McLean in any official capacity. This is just one gamer who wants to help other gamers answering questions.
Edit #8: A lot of people are asking the same questions, so I'm going to start linking to common themes in the thread for ease of accessibility.
Edit #9: Ok guys, I'm completely tapped out. I've been doing this for over a day, and I just don't have any juice left. I'd like to say thank you for reading, participating, and sharing your opinions. I've learned a lot about gaming addiction today, and I'm grateful. My hope is that I'll be able to take the questions and comments from this AMA and digest them to more effectively help people who are struggling. If you're late to the party and have questions, shoot me an email ([email protected]), and if you need help, please do so as well. I'm inspired to create more content that is widely available, because there's just no way I can help all of you individually. Thanks L'Reddit!
I'll try to respond to backlogged comments over the next few days.
And obligatory thank you to the people who gave me gold! I don't know how to use it, and just noticed it.