Computer games have gained quite a bad reputation over the years. They are addictive. They make you aggressive. It is such an anti-social activity. They even get the blame for people doing horrific things. Video games have been blamed in the past for being a culprit of unbalanced people acting in violent ways. But now, some scientists are providing evidence that computer game can lift our spirits. In this article we unveil why computer games can help lift feelings of depression can be a great tool for shifting low moods of depression.
What Happens In Your Brain When You Play A Video Game
When someone suffers with depression it is said that either the left or right side of the brain has a chemical imbalance. When we play a computer game we must use both the left and right sides of our brain. This helps activate the unused core, helping alleviate the depressive feelings that can occur in our minds.
The Right Computer Game Can Help You Win Back A Good Mood
When we play a game we don’t play it just to pass the time. We play games because we want to have fun and enjoy ourselves.
A video game not only enhances our feeling of wellbeing but is also known to reduce stress and aid in lifting our mood. Not only this, but it also gives a quick release of endorphins in our brain. These chemicals are released when we complete levels, upgrade a character or overcome a most maddening level. There is frustration but once you overcome the level you feel great!
The instant power of reward make us feel good. It can change our mood from being quite low to one of feeling a smile starting to rise inside.
Gaming, unlike real life, allows us to feel a sense of achievement quickly. No waiting around or hard work to build the achievements that real life often takes . We start a level, confronting challenges, sometimes making mistakes along the way. We learn from the bad decisions and reevaluate how to defeat the problem. Finally arriving at the last level to complete the game, usually with a nice animated movie scene.
Many Video games help people to relax in the same way well written novels do. By providing a world with believable characters, a gripping story, and an interesting setting, both video games and novels attempt immerse the reader/players in the story, allowing them to temporarily forget the troubles barraging their lives on a daily basis.
Living is challenging at the best of times for a lot of us. We get so stressed and bogged down by the reality of what we are living with we all need a way to destress. Some people use drink, drugs, exercising, dancing or another activity to alleviate their stress. Gaming can actually be one of the more positive way of achieving escapism whilst also increasing your brain power.
Video games allow us that opportunity to leave our problems behind for a moment. We become in control of a place that cannot harm us, often an enjoyable place to be. Whilst we are in the games, the game gives us the ability to learn to solve problems quickly and efficiently. The game offers quick reward in the form of points , prizes and happiness.
Positive Video Game Examples For Improving Mental Health
Games such as The sims, World of WarCraft and GuildWars are like visual and interactive novels. These games allow us to literally become someone else in a new world. You mould how the character looks, how their personalities are formed, for good or bad, and play out any of your wildest dreams. Some games allow us to build our dream home, others make us more knowledgeable and powerful characters in a virtual world. And others allow us to bond together with strangers in multiplayer environments to take on the enemy.
All this sense of control, reward and storytelling helps in alleviating feelings of sadness and hopelessness that our living lives may provide. It is known it can lift feelings of depression due to the nature of its value of escapism.
WARNING : Like all things it is important not to have too much of a good thing. Gaming for too long every day can have a negative impact as well as positive one on your mental state. Gaming can become an avoidance tactic of dealing with a problem and thus why they can become addictive. Although there are many health benefits to why games are good for you and also in healing depression try to restrict the amount of time you spend gaming to no more than 2 hours a day. For information on why video games are good for you please visit this website (video games are good for us)
Wii Fix & Xbox Kinect Computer Games Can Help Lift Feelings Of Depression
Not only do games help rebalance the chemicals in your brain but they can now also help your fitness levels. Just another way of making you feel better. When the founder of Seek A Therapy was suffering with bad depression and anxiety he used to play Wii Fit He lost over 2 stone in the process of 4 months along side regular walking with his dog.
If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.
Playing a game gave motivation and reward for loosing weight. It also helped to return each day to achieve higher goals. Exercising also made me feel more confident and happier in myself once I had achieved a higher score and level of fitness. This game was one of the key tools Seek A Therapy founder used to lift his feelings of depression and anxiety.
Gaming and exercise BOTH increase endorphin levels whilst improving our appearance and fitness. What is there to loose? ( I also recommend Xbox kinect and fitness games as an alternative option ).
Computer Games Can Help Lift Feelings Of Depression By Helping With Problem Solving & Being Creative
Not only can video gaming be a great tool to alleviate stress, strain and feelings of depression but also games increase your brain power and problem solving. As described by qmul here
Our paper shows that cognitive flexibility, a cornerstone of human intelligence, is not a static trait but can be trained and improved using fun learning tools like gaming.
By playing games it naturally makes you ‘think outside the box’. The more you play them the more you need to find alternative ways of solving a particular level or obstacle. Gaming moulds your brain to having an alternative way of thinking about problems than those who don’t play games. Basically, gaming can make you more creative and more adaptable towards difficulties and objectives in normal life.
Be Careful With The Game You Choose & Time Spent Playing
When selecting a game to play you should select a game that is conducive to positive story telling and light heartedness.
The likes of Mario and co are a good example of a good game. They are light hearted in nature and have positive stories.
Playing violent video games such as call of duty or other games that drive your adrenaline up can make you angry. Sometimes, when depressed, these games should be avoided. They are likely have an adverse effect on the way you feel and you may become frustrated and easily agitated. This is especially true if you are already in a negative state of mind.
To start gaming I recommend puzzle, strategy, racing, RPG and platform games. Games that promote teamwork such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Minecraft and such like. Or others that have the idea of rescue, laughter or solving problems are all good choices.
Computer Games Can Help Lift Feelings Of Depression?
The research for video gaming helping to lift feelings of depression is mixed.
Some scientists do say that it can have negative effects on your health, others would argue otherwise. Seek A Therapy founder has personally used video gaming as one way to help lift himself out of depression mainly with games such as Wii Fit, Mario Kart and FIFA. These games really were one tool that helped lift his spirits and gain some respite from the feelings of depression if only for a moment in time.
Have you had any positive or negative experiences with video gaming? Do you find yourself getting happier as you play a game? Does the effect remain once you have finished playing?
Please comment in the box below.