Excessive use of video games may be associated with sleep deprivation, resulting in poor job performance and atypical mood disorders. Three active duty service members in the U.S. Marine Corps were offered mental health evaluation for sleep disturbance and symptoms of blunted affect, low mood, poor concentration, inability to focus, irritability, and drowsiness. All three patients reported insomnia as their primary complaint. When asked about online video games and sleep hygiene practices, all three patients reported playing video games from 30 hours to more than 60 hours per week in addition to maintaining a 40-hour or more workweek. Our patients endorsed sacrificing sleep to maintain their video gaming schedules without insight into the subsequent sleep deprivation. During the initial interviews, they exhibited blunted affects and depressed moods, but appeared to be activated with enthusiasm and joy when discussing their video gaming with the clinical provider. Our article illustrates the importance of asking about online video gaming in patients presenting with sleep disturbances, poor work performance, and depressive symptoms. Because excessive video gaming is becoming more prevalent worldwide, military mental health providers should ask about video gaming when patients report problems with sleep.
Reprint & Copyright © 2015 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.