We’ve all seen or read news stories about the pros and cons of the video games (usually more cons than pros), but, recently, studies discovered that actually, the video games can help with depression and anxiety.
Why can something as simple as playing Candy Crush make you feel better. Let’s look at how depression works in the brain.
The brain is composed primarily of two regions, the hippocampus (associated with memory) and the so called “reward pathways” (which primarily controls motivation), when you are clinically depressed, both regions starts to dim in its activity, until the point it becomes heavily under-stimulated and even can shrink over time .
Video games, being heavily based in motivation and rewards, are the “natural” opposite to depression. Normally, (depending on the genre) when you complete a level or achieve a predetermined goal, the game gives you a reward. This activates both the “reward pathways”(activated by the reward itself) and the hippocampus (activated by the new levels, mechanics, items.)
Other genres, like MMORPGs ( Massive multi-player online role playing games like World of Warcraft), sim-type (e.g Second Life) and MOBAs (e.g DOTA 2, League of Legends) can help with socialization, as are normally based in cooperation and communication between teammates. This can help a patient with anxiety socialize without the stress of leaving the house.
These “gaming therapies”, along with proper treatment, can raise the recovery rate considerably and offer much-needed distractions when used in conjunction with existing therapies.
Of course, it’s not all positive news about games. Those with addiction issues can find games to be addicting as well.
But studies show that games have a lot of untapped potential to help people.