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Depression And Gaming: How it helps, how it hurts, and when to talk to a professional

Depression And Gaming: How it helps, how it hurts, and when to talk to a professional

Gaming gets a bad reputation at times. While some believe that gaming leads to violence or aggression, multiple research studies have found that this is not the case. In fact, gaming can support mental health in various ways. So, what’s the connection between depression and gaming specifically, and when should you reach out to a professional?

Depression And Gaming

There are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to depression and gaming. Here are some of them. 

Advantages

Research shows that gaming is linked to both a lower risk of depressive symptoms in some populations and a reduction in existing symptoms of depression. There are a number of reasons as to why this might be, which include: 

● Connection with other people. For many, gaming is a way to bond with friends and find community. Since a healthy social connection is known to boost mental and physical well-being, this is a great thing. 

● Problem-solving. Playing games can teach problem-solving and other skills. Not only does it feel good, but it’s useful. 

● Confidence. Games can provide a sense of achievement and boost self-esteem. For individuals living with depression, this is advantageous.

There’s also the factor of simple enjoyment, so the advantages of gaming for those with depression aren’t necessarily limited to the above. As for the disadvantages – or how gaming can hurt – it’s more about how much you play games and other factors. For example, gaming shouldn’t be your only support when it comes to mental health. 

Disadvantages

With the mental health benefits of gaming in mind, research shows that gaming can worsen mental health when it’s done in excess. Here are some ways that gaming can impact mental health negatively:

● It can disrupt your sleep. Blue light and staying up to play can impact your physical and mental health negatively because it may lead to a lack of sleep, which can increase your risk of getting into a car accident and other serious concerns. 

● It can lead to withdrawal from other people. While gaming can aid social connection, it can also contribute to social isolation for some.

● Dependency is possible. Gaming addiction or internet gaming disorder is seen more often in those with conditions like depression and ADHD. 

So, what do you do? You don’t have to give up gaming if it’s a healthy hobby for you, and the advantages are backed by research. It’s more about the context. Balance and having a well-rounded, established support system and set of coping skills are essential, and if you have depression or think you might, seeing a professional can help. 

When Should You Get Help For Depression?

As for when you should talk to a professional goes, if you have depression or notice the symptoms of depression in yourself, it’s time to talk to someone. Symptoms of depression may include but aren’t limited to:

● A low or depressed mood

● A loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy

● Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

● Isolation from others

● Irritability

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● Hypersomnia or insomnia

● Trouble concentrating or focusing

● Changes in appetite

● Excessive crying

● Emotional numbness

● Pain and body aches

Note that the symptoms of depression differ from person to person and that the only way to get a diagnosis is to see a qualified provider. Symptoms of depression are challenging to live with, but the good news is that depression is highly treatable. Depression may be treated through therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Various forms of non-invasive talk therapy are shown to help those with depression and other similar concerns. Note that these concerns can impact children and teens just as much as they affect adults. 

Parents And Online Gaming

If you are concerned about a child or teen and their mental health or gaming habits, it can be stressful and even scary. Talking to a counselor or therapist can help. If you’re a parent or guardian looking for a professional to talk to, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist, search the web, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp.

There are also a number of free articles on the BetterHelp website, including those related to parenting: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/parenting/parenting-tips-for-the-first-time-parent/. Regardless of if you’re a parent or not, you deserve to get the support that you need. Take the first step today and find a provider who can support you.