Play online games are becoming increasingly important in the medical landscape, especially when it comes to identifying and managing mental disorders. From the USA comes a new proposal: cure anxiety and depression thanks to online games.
There are 1.2 billion people in the world who play online games regularly. An army immune to depression? Excluding those who abuse it, it would seem so. In fact, many studies say that most people when they play experience greater self-esteem, more physical energy and strong positive emotions, such as enthusiasm and curiosity. It is the perfect opposite of depression.
The effectiveness of online games during the treatment of depression may soon have a scientific basis, suggesting it is an experimental research by Marie Roepke of the University of Pennsylvania. The study is based on the case of Reva Wood, a woman who in September was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that forces her to live with chronic pain. Pain that, in turn, causes anxiety and depression. In an effort to reduce the psychological pressure, Reva decided to use a particular solution: according to the developers, online game called SuperBetter is able to help people manage anxiety.
One of UK’s top slot games provider – William Hill could agree that online games are gaining more and more prominence in the medical panorama and many researchers think that they represent a valid way to identify disorders such as anxiety or depression. And to manage them. According to a document published on Clinical Psychological Science by the creators of Personal Zen – another medical online game available on the App Store – games of this type can reduce anxiety after just 25 minutes of use.
The use of playful elements in external contexts, and can really make a difference when talking about treatment of mental illnesses. “But we must be careful: nothing can replace the meeting face to face with a psychotherapist” warns Carol Landau, professor of psychiatry at Alpert Medical School “Think of the difference between a real person who listens to you and a smartphone”.
Anxious or depressed people are often prey to pessimistic thoughts and in many situations, they can only see the negative aspects. This helps to identify bad habits and, above all, the pessimistic approach that stands between the patient and living in tranquility. Online games of this type have also found space for some time they are in fact used interactive online to prevent suicides.
Learning and gratification
Scientific studies have monitored neuronal activity and brain function and have shown that when we play online games, two parts are stimulated constantly and intensely: that associated with motivation and achievement of goals (the one to which we do reference with “reward system” or “gratification”) and that associated with learning and memory.
Finding hidden objects, reaching the finish line or scoring a goal, focuses our attention and creates a sense of determination and motivation. On the other hand, all online games – not just those that are explicitly educational – are instructive and make players learn something.
Playing with Brain Training
The last study supporting this thesis is the one conducted at the University of Davis, in the US, and published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The Californian experts involved 160 young people who said they suffered from mild depression. They asked them to test themselves for 3-6 minutes a day with a game on their mobile phones. Researchers used cognitive stimulation apps, so-called brain training or brain teasers.
It turned out that the more volunteers played, the greater was their perception of being able to control their depressive disorder. The effects were more evident among those who thought they had a “hereditary” depressive disorder, in short, an organic disorder due to the imbalance of substances (neurotransmitters) in their brain; the effects on those who complained of a depressive disorder due to external circumstances (work problems, family problems, and so on) are less evident.