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Author Topic: Videogames and depression  (Read 1906 times)
Ramza
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« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2012, 07:04:49 AM »

Games don't cause depression. but depressed people can play the crap out of a videogame. (Living proof right here!)

Also, "responsible" for addressing depression? No. but it's probably a really good idea. Some games have tried at different levels. And I appreciate that.

I have more to say but I can't word it properly this early in the morning. I'll try again later.

Good to see ya on here Deg.
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Degolas
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« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2012, 08:51:27 AM »

Thanks for your input, Ramza! I'd love to hear more of your thoughts.

Yeah, the whole 'gaming causes depression' thing is nonsense spun by tabloids. Sadly such nonsense still gains a lot of traction. I agree that gaming can be remarkably therapeutic. I suffer depression too, and getting into a good game often offers the perfect distraction.
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« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2012, 01:31:14 PM »

Personally, video games serve as an excellent 'canary in the well' for me when it comes to increasing severity of depression.  If I'm depressed enough that I can't concentrate on a video game and give up it is time to get help and do so immediately.

As for video games addressing depression:

I don't think video games have a strict responsibility to address depression myself (I argue this from a 'do whatever the fuck you want' artistic freedom standpoint, so we're clear), and I agree in part with the idea that trying to develop a video game with the intent of treating depression could be problematic but not entirely so simply because any developers interested in delving into that area could easily hire psychiatric experts as consultants to work on the game with them so they would have someone with knowledge on hand.  That said, I do not see such a project being viable from a commercial standpoint so I don't think we're likely to need to worry about it.

On that note, I do think games can be therapeutic by providing something for sufferers of psychological disorders to identify with if that issue is addressed within the storyline and characters within the game.  Given that many games are set in the middle of wars or other trauma inducing events PTSD seems a prime candidate for this.  After all, some games that involve the use of alcohol have taken a look at the darker side -- even going so far as to show withdrawal symptoms -- and it seems that PTSD oriented hallucinations or hindrance of your character could be a logical next step in this direction.

Also, this interview with the creator of Papo & Yo seems relevant to the topic at hand.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 02:21:13 PM by Desert Walker » Logged
Klyde Chroma
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2012, 03:55:02 PM »

I love this subject..... Having a number of lovely "titles" I myself have been given by "professionals" (such as OCD, ADD/Overactive Mind Syndrone, Manic Depressive/Bipoar/Bipolar 2, personality disorder, social anxiety disorder and probably a host of others I've forgotten) I have also been through the gamut of treatment options.... I gave up on doctors nearly a decade ago having eventually concluded the best way to become well adjusted mentally and emotionally was through cognitive and behavorial changes... On that note, I also tend to believe such "titles" carry a bit too much "weight" in that many diagnosis given are doing nothing more then labeling a personality trait that comes with a pill attached to it (all of which just further throw neuro-balance out of whack in the long run....)... But I'm drifting from the matter at hand....

As I stated, I've been diagnosed and treated medically for depression amongst other things in the past... sometimes with little to no improvement what-so-ever... I now maintain a regimen of things outside the scope of magic potions and pills to keep myself healthy... I'm happy to report for years now I have had NO extreme problems with my so-called disorders... Video games, ironically, are a large part of that healthy regimen for me.

Personally, video games serve as an excellent 'canary in the well' for me when it comes to increasing severity of depression. 


I couldn't agree more.... But it extends a bit beyond depression for me.... The length of time I can play, the amount of attention I can lend to a game while playing, as well as assessing my recall of my playtime are all measures for me to check myself cognitively. How I play and how long I play tell me a lot about how I'm doing mentally.... In fact, I'd go so far as to say in some respects gaming has proven MORE efficient in "diagnosing" and treating some of my problems than any other means I've explored......

Case and point....

A doctor says I have ADD..... I think I'm just too hyper-inspired and excitable for my own good sometimes.... The fact I know to be true is that stimulants calm me down and allow me to focus... At the correct "dosage" the stimulants allow me full faculty of my brain and decision making as well (I don't feel scatter-brained or compulsive, I can make decisions based on logic and/or reasonable desire instead my thoughts and motivations bouncing around like a super-ball in my head)....... That correct "dosage" of pharmacutical remedies was not something doctors were able to achieve with me, and those options just created more problems by throwing other things out of whack.... Now, today, things are very simple.... I play whatever game I am currently playing. If I can devote the amount of time and attention to the game that I like (or more accuractely what I decide to be appropriate) I am good..... If I can't devote the amount of time and attention to the game I medicate... You know medication is now for me? Coffee.... I increase coffee consumption until I can comfortably focus and play my game.... I do this routine every morning... have for years... The result? I have not had a problem focusing or working for years and can easily apply myself to my work for however long is required without feeling or acting on an impulsive need to do anything else.

and depression....

So I have supposedly been/am all sorts of depressed..... Manic Depression, Clinical Depression, Seasonal Depression.... you name it..... whether I am or not is irrelevant... what is important is I know symptomatically certain things accompany certain forms of depression for me... Apathy, obsession, mania et cetera..... I also know that too much or too little of the correct neurotransmitters are the key to managing this... But the key to managing those neurotransmitters for me is keeping them in balance BEFORE there is a problem... this is done through dietary intake of their pre-cursors (in other words, if I am becoming manic I consume tryptophan-rich foods because it is a pre-cursor for serotonin and much safer than SRRI meds)... I can see these trends long before they inhibit my daily living via my gaming (or more accurately how I think about and handle my gaming).

I can go on to explain further how I've used gaming as an exercise to help measure and restore short term memory function.... Which in my opinion was a major factor of my being depressed... Or I can go on to detail how I've even used video games to get over chemical addiction.

Now I am not by any means saying games or gaming is the "cure all".... but for me personally they are a HUGE part of my healthy regimen, in particularly as a diagnostic tool and a "maintenance exercise".... Naturally, the big picture involves a lot more then gaming.... Either way, thats my experience on the subject, take it for what its worth.

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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2012, 06:19:44 PM »

I love this subject..... Having a number of lovely "titles" I myself have been given by "professionals" (such as OCD, ADD/Overactive Mind Syndrone, Manic Depressive/Bipoar/Bipolar 2, personality disorder, social anxiety disorder and probably a host of others I've forgotten) I have also been through the gamut of treatment options.... I gave up on doctors nearly a decade ago having eventually concluded the best way to become well adjusted mentally and emotionally was through cognitive and behavorial changes... On that note, I also tend to believe such "titles" carry a bit too much "weight" in that many diagnosis given are doing nothing more then labeling a personality trait that comes with a pill attached to it (all of which just further throw neuro-balance out of whack in the long run....)... But I'm drifting from the matter at hand....

Just to throw this out there, I wouldn't be too hard on them.  The subject can be damned difficult to handle correctly, in particular if they're dealing with partial information and they really do the best they can.  As an example, I was diagnosed with ADD in the past (now been revised to aspergers) and was given stimulants to treat it.  As a kid it worked brilliantly.  As I got older the help it provided started to slide, though concentration became the least of my problems as anxiety attacks and depression worsened.  After a while I read a book called Walking it Off: A Veteran's Chronicle of War and Wilderness by Doug Peacock and it chilled me to the bone.  The sections where he described his PTSD symptoms and, more importantly, his general personality traits and tactical mindset that developed when violence was approaching were like staring into a mirror.  I grew up in a very rough town but it had never occurred to me that I had PTSD -- never mind that I had showed some symptoms that in retrospect are very obvious -- because I came from a family where the only people that get PTSD are soldiers and anyone else is a lying pussy so it had never even occurred to me to bring up the nightmares, paranoia, or any other signs up during sessions.  Only having a partial diagnosis wasn't their fault.

I immediately brought up those concerns with the psychiatrist that I was dealing with and he concluded that I had PTSD and that keeping me on stimulants to help with ADD symptoms was the exact wrong thing to do because having pre-existing anxiety meant that that would cause concentration problems and that keeping me wired would only make that worse, and make me more paranoid and/or aggressive.  He instead put me on a combination anti-anxiety/anti-depression med that has worked wonders for my concentration issues.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that pills are the answer to your problems, they work for some and not for others and I'll freely admit that the depression element of those meds didn't work for me*, but I think your dismissal is too harsh.

*To be fair, the situation I was in was too damn hopeless (objectively) for pills to do much, I think.  Currently they take the nastier edge off of my depression symptoms and keep me 'content' until I'm in a good enough position to try to make something of my life again.

Quote from: Klyde Chroma
I couldn't agree more.... But it extends a bit beyond depression for me.... The length of time I can play, the amount of attention I can lend to a game while playing, as well as assessing my recall of my playtime are all measures for me to check myself cognitively. How I play and how long I play tell me a lot about how I'm doing mentally.... In fact, I'd go so far as to say in some respects gaming has proven MORE efficient in "diagnosing" and treating some of my problems than any other means I've explored......

Case and point....

A doctor says I have ADD..... I think I'm just too hyper-inspired and excitable for my own good sometimes.... The fact I know to be true is that stimulants calm me down and allow me to focus... At the correct "dosage" the stimulants allow me full faculty of my brain and decision making as well (I don't feel scatter-brained or compulsive, I can make decisions based on logic and/or reasonable desire instead my thoughts and motivations bouncing around like a super-ball in my head)....... That correct "dosage" of pharmacutical remedies was not something doctors were able to achieve with me, and those options just created more problems by throwing other things out of whack.... Now, today, things are very simple.... I play whatever game I am currently playing. If I can devote the amount of time and attention to the game that I like (or more accuractely what I decide to be appropriate) I am good..... If I can't devote the amount of time and attention to the game I medicate... You know medication is now for me? Coffee.... I increase coffee consumption until I can comfortably focus and play my game.... I do this routine every morning... have for years... The result? I have not had a problem focusing or working for years and can easily apply myself to my work for however long is required without feeling or acting on an impulsive need to do anything else.

Everything that follows is interesting stuff but I'll be cutting off the quote here because this post is already long and I'm riffing on a general theme of your post at this point.

In my case I have more difficulty focusing on reading or listening to music with no distractions, perhaps unsurprisingly, than games, so I use those as a diagnostic for how well the ADD/anti-anxiety element of treatment is working.  I can focus on a game if I'm having problems with that, and it's only severe depression or anger that keeps me from being unable to focus on a game, hence my point about going for help if I get that far.  Generally if I'm unable to focus on gaming it means that I'm about to start contemplating the pros and cons of Lookout Mountain, to be blunt.

In any case, I'm glad to see that gaming and coffee work well as therapy for you.  I hope we get some more interesting stories like this in.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 06:21:48 PM by Desert Walker » Logged
Klyde Chroma
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2012, 03:10:14 PM »

My harsh condemnation of the way medicine is practiced when it comes to mental illness is not aimed at those in the field who try their best.... its aimed at the many who start playing around with the complex equilibrium of chemistry up in our grey matter, via prescribed meds, without appropriately exploring other avenues or treatment methods... or taking into consideration how many years of different pills its going to take to re-balance brain chemistry or even if re-balancing is possible... ESPECIALLY in children.....

In other words, anyone can easily go to a doctor with a mild case of the blues and unwittingly get prescribed a number of common "pills for the problem" (heck, it doesn't even need to be a head doctor.... most walk-in-clinic docs will prescribe wellbutrin, celexa, lexapro, and a host of others at the drop of a hat....)...... however the problem may not have warranted hopping into the perverbial rabbit hole of head drugs that follows....

up this chemical in the brain and that one drops, so you get a pill for that.... now you have anxiety so you get a pill for that... but that anxiety med down-regulates some receptor site compounding your depression... you get the idea... and sadly the only solution is trying to perpetually re-balance via meds or "bite the bullet" and suffer long enough for your brain to start doing its thing on its own again....

Now there are doctors who don't throw a pill down your throat as soon as you say "boo-hoo".... Unfortunately, in my experience, I have found it to be far more common to have very serious, mind altering drugs, prescribed as easily as an anti-biotics.... That is negligent practice IMO now matter what way I look at it...

There is no long-term side effects to cognitive behavorial therapy, nor is there any harm in looking into your diet to make certain your minerals and vitamins are on point...  maybe even seeing a nutritionist... Rarely have I ever come across a doctor who explores these options first....

Mind you, I don't post this with the intention of defending how jaded and bias I am in regard to the matter.... I know objectively that I should be a bit more understanding about the whole thing... once again though, its just my own personal experience that has resulted in me being of this persuasion....
So please don't think my aim is to argue that all docs are bad and head drugs have no place in treatment.... All of this is just to better flesh out the reasoning behind why I seem "harsh".
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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2012, 06:04:33 PM »

Fair enough, they can be prescribed too easily when other options are available and you're right that even your average clinic can prescribe something (albeit, generally short term) without someone who can look more seriously into the issue.  That said, the studies done on the subject by academic neurologists and psychologists (i.e. those who have no vested interest in starting and keeping people on meds) do indicate that a combination of therapy and meds tends to most consistently produce positive results.  You are, of course, right though that sending them to therapy* first to see if that could help their problems without medicine would be a better first option in most non-emergency situations in particular if supplemented with taking a vitamin D supplement, exercise, or change in diet.

*The one caveat I have here is that people trying that route should be going to a real, trained therapist which unfortunately doesn't always happen.  Therapy attempted by a non-professional can either leave a person suffering for years without any real progress or even make things worse.  It always saddens me when people take that route due to a generalized fear of doctors.  (Please note that I'm making a general observation here and not saying that you would suggest people go hit up their psychic or priest instead of seeing a trained therapist.)
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