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Depression affects people from all walks of life, no matter their background or the country they live in. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 300 million people around the world have depression. Also, the prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode is highest among individuals between 18 and 25 – the young demographic.

With the depression rate on the rise, researchers are finding new ways to treat depression. Recent studies have shown that gaming can be a powerful treatment for depression for people of all ages. Read on to know online gaming and video games can treat depression.

Cognitive skill development and socializing

When you play any types of games, such as video games, board games, or online games, you need to concentrate on the gameplay and work out your gaming strategy. Numerous research studies have shown that this level of concentration develops your mental agility and influences cognitive abilities such as perception, attention, and reaction time.

In addition to cognitive benefits, gaming can also improve other areas of mental health. As online gaming can be a highly social activity, it can improve self-esteem and emotional contentment. While playing online, players have the option to interact with other players, collaborate in missions and generally socialize. Also, when playing games at a fair and secure casino, players can chat with others in the game.

It might seem less beneficial to socialize online, but chatting with friends over games is quite helpful in combating self-isolation and depression.

A video game designed specifically to treat depression

While online gaming can have positive effects on the brain and the mood, a video game called SPARX was developed specifically to combat depression. This game includes aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy, though it isn’t obvious to the player. When playing SPARX, players customize their own avatar and then seek to destroy GNATs (an acronym for “gloomy, negative, and automatic thoughts”). While destroying them, players learn that they don’t need to live with these types of thoughts – that they could be destroyed.

The researchers who created this game found impressive results in their study. Over 44% of people playing SPARX recovered from depression, compared to 26% of patients in treatment. In addition, 66% of the players saw a reduction in symptoms of 30% or more, compared to 58% of patients in treatment who saw the same percentage of reduction in symptoms.

To play or not to play?

Some people experiencing depression turn to video games and online gaming as a way to self-medicate. This is the reason why some research can be skewed; it can look like gamers have a high likelihood of depression, which can lead to the misconception that gaming causes depression. However, it’s also possible that depressed people turn to games and actually experience a decrease in symptoms. Using games to combat depression usually becomes a problem when gamers try to escape their lives instead of treating their issues.

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