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Video Games Proven As Positive Force Against Depression, According To Researcher

Video Games Proven As Positive Force Against Depression, According To Researcher

Time to play.

Ewan Moore

Ewan Moore

Depression is an ugly and often completely debilitating illness with no obvious "fix" or "cure". The way it hits is different for all of us. Some of us might feel tired and irritated - seemingly for no reason. Others will be completely unable to move or do anything for days at a time.

It's been argued in the past that video games do little when it comes to easing depression. Some believe that spending time gaming can be used as a crutch to avoid dealing with real-world issues, which in turn can only worsen those negative thoughts and feelings. Personally speaking, I've only found video games to have a soothing effect on my own depressive episodes - and new studies have shown that gaming can in fact be an effective, positive force against depression for people of all ages.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A new study conducted by psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith (via Headstuff) argues that the opposite of play isn't work, but depression. Both work and play, he reasons, can engage the mind in a productive manner. During play, people often experience a sense of community, increased self-confidence, and a range of other positive emotions. From the viewpoint that this is the polar opposite of depression, one can conclude that the act of "playing" in general can be effective against depression.

The idea is that when you're playing a video game, two parts of the brain are in a "constant state of stimulation". The first are the reward pathways, which process goals and motivation. The second is the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.

Those of us who game regularly will probably be able to recall countless examples of reaching goals, earning rewards, solving puzzles, and taking down bosses. That's all part of the fun, right? Well, those are the very things that keep these parts of the brain active and healthy - quite the opposite of rotting our brains. Because depression can shut down our reward pathways, picking up a video game can be a straightforward and fun way to activate them again.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim /

Again, I should stress that depression does hit everyone differently, and it's really not quite as simple as "pick up a video game and you'll magical feel better". But if something as simple as picking up a game l - any game - for a little bit can help you feel a little less down? It might just be worth a try, if you feel up to it.

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Featured Image Credit: MattMakesGames/Rockstar Games/Nintendo/CD Projekt RED

Topics: News