Can Video Games Help with Anxiety and Depression?
Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health problems today, affecting millions of people worldwide. While traditional therapies and medication are often effective, some people see video games as a potential tool to help manage their symptoms. In this blog post, we explore how video games can help with anxiety and depression.
Distraction and escape
Video games can provide a temporary escape from the real world. For many people, they can be a welcome distraction from their worries and help them forget about their problems for a while. This can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with uncontrollable thoughts.
Those who struggle to connect face-to-face with others can find social interaction in video games. Multiplayer games can create a sense of community and togetherness. Especially when it's hard to find friends in real life.
Sense of achievement
Clear objectives in videogames can help to make completing a task feel rewarding. For people with depression who struggle with feelings of worthlessness or lack of motivation, this can be a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Mindfulness and relaxation
Games with calming visuals and music can help to relax. These types of games can be a useful resource for those who struggle with anxiety or find it difficult to calm their minds. An example of this would be Journey, a game in which you explore an ancient, mysterious world, gliding across the sandy landscape to discover its secrets.
Some video games are specifically designed for therapeutic purposes. For example, games such as SPARX help teenagers with depression by teaching them cognitive behavior skills. Based in a 3D fantasy world, the game leads players through several realms. As soon as a quest is completed, the Guide explains how to use new skills in order to feel better, solve problems, and enjoy real life.
Biofeedback games are games that measure physiological indicators of stress, such as heart rate or breathing, and use this information to provide feedback to the player. These games can help people regulate their own stress response and manage anxiety symptoms. For example Deep, a meditative VR Game controlled by breathing. A custom controller measures diaphragm expansion in order to sense deep breathing. This information is fed back to the player in a variety of visual hints, intimately linking their consciousness and breath.
While video games are not a substitute for traditional forms of therapy or medication, they can be a valuable tool in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, it is important to note that excessive use of video games can also have a negative impact on mental health.