Playing Video Games Might Actually Make You Less Sad

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Playing video games can treat depression and make gamers less sad, according to new research by the University of California, Davis.

The study had college students play video games occasionally, while inter-spaced with positive messages targeting depression. The messaging had slight differences in approach, but was always positive and included basic inspirational phrases intended to encourage participants to play the game.

Each game was an adaptation of neurophysiological training tasks that were shown to improve cognitive control in depressed people. Researchers concluded that being able to control the game made people better able to control their depression.

“This study examined the effects of exposure to specific message features on the usage of mental health video games applications,” states the research’s abstract. “Overall, findings from this study demonstrate the effectiveness of specific message prompt features to promote video game experience for mental health apps.”

The study looked at results from 160 student volunteers with an average age of 21 who claimed they suffered from mild depression. Three-fourths were women, and more than half of the subjects were of Asian heritage, followed by white, Latino, and members of ethnic groups.

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