Background: Although depression has frequently been associated with Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), its epidemiological impact on this emerging condition has not been systematically assessed. In this study, we aimed to synthesize the available evidence focusing on depression and depressive symptoms in individuals with IGD. Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, GreyLit, OpenGrey, and ProQuest up to March 2020 for observational studies focusing on depression-related outcomes in IGD. We conducted random-effects meta-analyses on 1) rate of comorbid depression in IGD; 2) severity of depressive symptoms in IGD participants without depression. Results: We identified 92 studies from 25 different countries including 15,148 participants. 21 studies (n = 5025 participants) provided data for the first analysis, resulting in a pooled event rate of depression of 0.32 (95% Confidence Interval 0.21–0.43). The pooled Beck Depression Inventory scores in individuals without depression were suggestive of mild severity (13 studies, n = 508; 10.3, 95% Confidence Interval 8.3–12.4). Limitations: The considerable inconsistency of methods employed across studies limits the transferability of these findings to clinical practice. Conclusions: The prevalence of depression in individuals with IGD varied considerably across studies, affecting approximately one out of three participants overall. Furthermore, a globally major severity of depressive symptoms was found in those without a clinical diagnosis of depression, compared to the general population. These findings confirm a relevant impact of mood disturbances in IGD. Registration detail: PROSPERO (CRD42018100823).
Journal of Affective Disorders
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