Withdrawal symptoms in internet gaming disorder: A systematic review

Dean Kaptsis, Daniel King, Paul Delfabbro, Michael Gradisar

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    145 Citations (Scopus)


    Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is currently positioned in the appendix of the DSM-5 as a condition requiring further study. The aim of this review was to examine the state of current knowledge of gaming withdrawal symptomatology, given the importance of withdrawal in positioning the disorder as a behavioral addiction. A total of 34 studies, including 10 qualitative studies, 17 research reports on psychometric instruments, and 7 treatment studies, were evaluated. The results indicated that the available evidence on Internet gaming withdrawal is very underdeveloped. Internet gaming withdrawal is most consistently referred to as 'irritability' and 'restlessness' following cessation of the activity. There exists a concerning paucity of qualitative studies that provide detailed clinical descriptions of symptoms arising from cessation of internet gaming. This has arguably compromised efforts to quantify withdrawal symptoms in empirical studies of gaming populations. Treatment studies have not reported on the natural course of withdrawal and/or withdrawal symptom trajectory following intervention. It is concluded that many more qualitative clinical studies are needed, and should be prioritised, to develop our understanding of gaming withdrawal. This should improve clinical descriptions of problematic internet gaming and in turn improve the quantification of IGD withdrawal and thus treatments for harmful internet gaming.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-66
    Number of pages9
    JournalClinical Psychology Review
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


    • Assessment
    • Craving
    • DSM-5
    • Internet addiction
    • Internet gaming disorder
    • Withdrawal


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