Why Video Games Cause Depression

Patrick Lawrence

Video games cause depression because they are absorbed in a myriad of ways. By sitting at a computer for hours on end, playing violent video games is causing your brain to continue to receive a bunch of dopamine.

This is the same sort of chemical released when you experience joy, thrill, and accomplishment.

Dopamine is, in a nutshell, a good hormone. It makes us happy, and it helps us feel good.

Dopamine plays a vital role in several things in our brains. It is responsible for basic survival, and it is also necessary to produce new neurons.

Dopamine causes us to become addicted. A key ingredient in creating a dependency on drugs is the sense of losing control.

The feeling of “loss of control” causes the brain to release dopamine

children, win, success

Think about losing your keys. Can you get away with simply taking a moment to think it over, instead of sprinting to the car?

In a sense, it depends on whether you feel like you can go without the keys. People who are addicted to drugs tend to forget they have taken drugs, or they tend to become physically dependent on them.

Dopamine-dependent drug addiction is a deadly form of depression. Being addicted to drugs may feel great in the short term, but in the long run, it is far more harmful than any pain you have experienced.

Dopamine produces an addictive quality. If you are depressed, there is a good chance you can relate to this. You may be losing your ability to focus, as your mind wanders around.

You may also feel as though you are a burden to those around you. It is also possible that you are feeling helpless and worthless, and your life may seem futile.

So what can you do?

So why not give up all your video games, as hard as it may be? Perhaps you don’t have the skills to play, or you have no energy to make the effort.

That would be a smart choice, but that is not the answer.

Video games are an important part of your life. As long as you give yourself room to let them be an important part of your life, and enjoy them as much as you can, you are on the right track.

Giving up your video games entirely would only make things worse.

By giving up one thing, you are giving up another. This is why giving up video games is not the answer to your depression.

Video games are not the problem

If video games are causing you to feel depressed, that is because they are absorbing your mental energies.

Let’s talk about what depression really is. Many other psychological disorders cause depression.

Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and many other issues cause people to feel low and unworthy.

Even people with clear personalities can become depressed. It is not just the thing you are addicted to. Depression is a lot more than a “bad habit.”

Dopamine’s function in your brain is not the same for everyone.

The neurotransmitter plays a huge role in brain function, and some people do not produce enough dopamine, or it is not broken down properly. There is no magic formula for depression.

This is not to say that video games are the only thing causing depression.

If you happen to have a specific mental disorder or are experiencing certain psychological issues, video games may become the main cause of your depression.

Instead of trying to escape from your depression, find ways to deal with it. Meditation and exercise are both good ways to reduce stress and strengthen your brain.

Several great sites list a variety of different exercises.

Meditation has been shown to cause a reduction in dopamine levels. Meditation helps you get into a healthier state of mind so that you are in the right frame of mind to be in charge of your life.

Exercise helps you burn extra calories, which can help you lose weight.

Many people with depression find comfort and relaxation in nature. This can help your mood.

Even if you don’t go for long walks every day, it is important to find ways to get outside in nature.

We all have bad days. We all go through periods of depression. While many psychologists will tell you to look for a positive reason for your depression, remember that it may have nothing to do with video games.

Try to seek out new hobbies to fill the time, and find other ways to cope with your depression. The bottom line is to find healthy ways to deal with your depression, rather than leaving it untreated.

In a normal drug trial, a group of healthy volunteers is given some version of the drug or placebos

Boy wearing a black and white virtual reality goggles

However, a placebo is just as real as a real drug.

So although we expect the group receiving the placebo to experience some kind of improvement, we also expect that it will not be clinically significant and that the researchers will expect it to decrease, not increase the baseline depression score.

It is because of this that psychologists believe that certain trials are going to be effective, even though they are not clinically significant, and in fact, only by a small amount.

The reason they are not clinically significant is that the placebo effect works in the same way as any other drug.

That is, it only works in the context of this particular trial. Because of this, a small amount of improvement in a clinical trial is likely the result of a placebo effect.

What is interesting to note is that this placebo effect is mediated by neural mechanisms that are related to rewards and emotional state.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "That is silly. I have seen thousands of studies and all of those trials are made up of trials that are very clinically significant."

However, the fact is that this mechanism is universal in the placebo response.

You may have seen an article where a researcher has reviewed dozens of clinical trials, and in every single trial, the amount of improvement measured by clinicians is positively correlated with the amount of improvement that the scientists can measure in a lab.

However, when you start doing a very wide spectrum of trials, the placebo effect is a very real effect that can have a big impact on clinical trials.

When I did my research, I found over a hundred academic studies that used video games as the placebo.

In the vast majority of these trials, playing video games resulted in statistically significant improvements in depression scores.

Now, it must be noted that some of these studies only compared video games to another placebo, and not to the active placebo.

Nevertheless, if you are trying to look for studies that show the effectiveness of video games for depression, the fact that nearly all of them use the same thing as a placebo in their studies makes it pretty hard to argue that video games are not a great tool for improving depression symptoms.

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