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Here's How Playing Video Games Can Reduce Depression [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 29, 2017 07:25 AM EDT
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Several studies have looked at how playing video games can reduce depression and found them more effective than traditional therapy in some cases. A new study demonstrated how reminding game users through messages resulted in more frequent and longer time spent playing the game.

The report written by Subuhi Khan and Jorge Pena, both professors at UC Davis, were based on the findings from 160 volunteers suffering from mild depression. The research aimed to demonstrate how compelling message prompts can portray video games as an effective tool in treating depression.

To do so, a total of six games lasting three minutes each was coupled with message prompts tailored for each of the games. The games were modeled from neurophysiological training tasks that earlier studies have shown to help depressed people gain more cognitive control.

They focused on depression construed as either caused by internal or external forces. The first could be attributed to a chemical imbalance and genetic factors while the latter is concerned with external issues such as those related to work or relationships.

Some volunteers were made to think that depression is caused by internal factors and they were given a video game-based app intended for brain training. In the end, they believed they had the ability to control their depression.

They also rated the apps highly. It seemed to agree with other studies demonstrating some effectiveness of brain-training games to produce cognitive changes.

When depression was portrayed as the product of factors outside the self, it resulted in participants playing longer probably to gain a sense of control over the situation. The observed outcome may not lead to long-term benefits as it could probably be just the role that immediate engagement had played. The research did not intend to determine whether playing video games can reduce depression, the EurekAlert reported.

A number of games were developed with this in mind. Sparx, a 3D fantasy game tested on teenagers and children, was found to actually reduce the severity of depression and anxiety.

It even captured the interest of American Psychological Association. The developer of an iPhone app called MoodTune believed it could help manage conditions like anxiety and depression.

A player of Depression Quest, a text-based game, claimed to change his mind about committing suicide after playing it, according to the BBC.

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