Currently, about 10% of American adults consider themselves to be “gamers,” but can too much video game playing lead to actual and diagnosable mental conditions?
For years, there has been debate within both the medical and video game community about whether or not video games contribute to depression.
“I was expecting to find that the depression led to gaming,” said Dr. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University, who performed his own study a few years ago taking a look at Pathological video game use among children. “But we found the opposite in that study. The depression seemed to follow the gaming.”
According to i News, that debate has some new data: a new study finds that video game addiction does contribute to both anxiety and depression.
Researchers from the University of Oulu, Finland, and Nottingham Trent University found that in addition to the physical ailments that excessive gaming causes (cardiovascular stress, wrist pain, etc.), gaming addicts are also at risk of developing severe mental side effects ranging form lack of concentration and impulsiveness to full-blown depression.
The report, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, involves data gathered from more than 130,000 gamers between the ages of 12 and 88 years old, as well as 50 additional studies over the past 11 years involving video game addictions.
“Overall, the results suggested that problematic gaming behavior is significantly associated with a wide range or detrimental health-related outcomes,” read the report.
Earlier this February, the World Health Organizations (WHO) even announced it would list video game addictions as a recognized mental health condition.
“It It is important that our findings are used to inform both mental health professionals and the public about what videogame addiction is and how it can affect our health,” added Dr. Halley Pontes, of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences. “The study shows the potential health-related costs, whilst also providing details and insights into which specific health impairments can occur as a result of video game addiction.”
An unlikely remedy may be able to help quell some of these depressive habits of the country’s gamers: coffee.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the caffeine in coffee, which is absorbed and circulated within 30 minutes to an hour, can improve cognitive performance and enhance brain energy levels for up to six hours, subsequently fighting depressive habits. Similarly, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drink four or more cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to suffer from depression.
The best way, however, to prevent video game-related depression is to not let a gaming habit turn into an addiction. Playing games in moderation is completely acceptable and virtually harmless, it’s when it becomes an addictive habit that leads to further health concerns.
“We’ve always said these games should be used in moderation and should be a part of a well-rounded lifestyle, along with going outside to play, and reading, and doing schoolwork,” said Dan Hewitt, a spokesperson for the Entertainment Software Association.”