How Gaming Can Improve Your Mental Health

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In 2018, the World Health Organization will be updating the International Classification of Diseases by publishing the ICD-11. Among other things, the ICD-11 will recognize excessive video game playing as a mental health disorder in the same league as alcohol or substance abuse. This news caused somewhat of an uproar in the gaming community, as many gamers were offended at the notion that video games could contribute to the deterioration of someone’s mental health.

It’s hard to argue against the idea that excessive video game playing can be a problem for some people. In fact, there have been examples of people literally playing video games until they died, which is clearly not normal behavior. Video games can be addicting, and for some people, that addiction can lead to serious consequences when they prioritize gaming over other important aspects of their life.

However, even though excessive and uncontrollable gaming is a serious mental health problem that should be treated by a mental health professional, it’s important to note that the vast majority of gamers wouldn’t be diagnosed with the condition. Furthermore, there’s evidence that video games may even have some benefits for one’s mental health.

Here are the ways playing video games may actually improve your mental health.

While gaming is making the news lately for the ways it may be bad for one’s mental health, studies show that it may also be able to treat two of the most common mental health conditions in the world – anxiety and depression. A study done by East Carolina University suggests that playing 30 minutes of video games per day can treat anxiety and depression at a level that rivals prescription medication. Out of all the genres, puzzle games (like Angry BirdsBejeweled, or Tetris, for instance) in particular have shown an ability to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Another common mental health condition, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has been shown to be treatable through video games. One study showed that individuals with PTSD that played Tetris experienced less flashbacks than those that didn’t play the game. Considering this, it’s no surprise that video games are starting to be used therapeutically as a way to treat the symptoms of some mental illnesses  Read More.