Can Gaming Be Used as a Form of Therapy?

Although many games have been targeted as promoting bad behavior in young adults, such as the flack caught by Grand Theft Auto, studies have shown that video games have beneficial qualities. In fact, psychologists have been treating a variety of mental disorders with video games since the late 1990s. Unfortunately, it’s idiots who try to claim that games such as GTA inspired them to steal automobiles that give games such a bad reputation.

How Gaming Can Be Beneficial for Therapy

According to research conducted by several experts in cognitive sciences, gaming has potential as therapy to treat a wide scope of ailments. These changes were identified to help in both physical and mental complications. This is especially true for children who were suffering from diseases and illnesses. Games, such as first-person-shooters, were used to treat the following with exceptionally results:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Disruptive behaviors
  • Cognitive rehabilitation

Adversely, games used in the study also demonstrated improvements to other areas in life. Not only had it been a form to release negativity, but it also enhanced the mind. It’s not merely the aspect of treating mental disorders through therapy, but also improving a variety of things such as:

  • Stress management
  • Relaxation
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Self-confidence
  • Socialization: although if you play League of Legends, the socialization aspect is questionable.

The Bad Side to Gaming Therapy

While video games can be used to treat many psychological issues, they also have potential to create problems. In fact, most rehabilitation centers will now address video game addiction along side drugs and alcohol. As silly as it sounds, many people are becoming so addicted to gaming that it often produces the same symptoms as substance abuse. Experts believe this is because of the nature in which video games affect the brain.

Although it may be unlikely that you’ll meet some guy in a dark alley to get your next “fix” because the last game just wasn’t doing it for you, the abuse aspect is quite real. Instead of a dark alley, you might walk into a Gamestop for the same reason. It’s when your gaming obsession takes over your life, finances and mannerisms when you have to reconsider your position.

Gaming has potential to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain much like substances do. It can increase dopamine levels while making the rest of your worries melt away. It’s this allure that gives the games power to override rational thought. If someone addicted to gaming becomes more irritable the longer he or she is without it, then there is a problem. In many regards, gaming is a drug of choice. This means the addict believes he or she cannot live without the interaction. In severe cases, patients turned to violence when faced with gaming withdrawal just as they would with an illegal substance.

The Safe Way to Self-Medicate

When all is said and done, gaming may be a more valid treatment for many mental issues. Personally, I find it relaxing to take a few hours to myself every week and immerse into something like H1Z1. It’s a safe way to self-medicate if you deal with depression, stress and anxiety like I do.

If you have severe mental issues, it’s always best to seek professional help. However, there is nothing wrong with turning to games once in a while in order to feel good. Just make sure you do so in moderation. The last thing you’ll want to do is call in from work three times a week because you need to finish that damn quest in order to reach the next level.

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Michael Brockbank

I have been playing games for more than 30 years. I wouldn’t consider myself a hard-core gamer, but I have brought the pain in my day. Now that I am rounding the horn at 40, I still enjoy everything from booting up the old Commodore 64 to exploring new titles in Steam. You’re never too old to enjoy a good plot and mind-numbing graphics.

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