Study: Videogame Addiction Leads to Depression

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Study: Videogame Addiction Leads to Depression

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It's not the chicken and the egg after all: study shows that playing games "pathologically" leads to feeling bad and not the other way around.

A study conducted by Iowa State University psychologist Douglas A. Gentile suggests that kids that are addicted to games, called "pathological" by the study, are more prone to disorders such as depression. A sample of 3,034 kids aged 8 to 13 from the island nation of Singapore were asked survey questions every year from 2007 to 2009. Gentile's team surmised a link between game-playing and depression and his paper establishing that progression will appear in an upcoming issue of the psych journal Pediatrics.

"What we've known from other studies is that videogaming addiction looks similar to other addictions. But what wasn't clear was what comes before what. Gaming might be a secondary problem. It might be that kids who are socially awkward, who aren't doing well in school, get depressed and then lose themselves into games. We haven't really known if gaming is important by itself, or what puts kids at risk for becoming addicted," said Gentile.

Unfortunately for us gamers, the results of the study point to pathological gaming as increasing the chances of psychological disorders. "We found that in kids who started gaming pathologically, depression and anxiety got worse. And, when they stopped gaming, the depression lifted. It may be that these disorders [co-exist], but games seem to make the problem worse."

The important distinction of this study is that "the gaming precedes the depression. We don't know if it's truly causal, but gaming has an effect on its own, and you can't just ignore gaming and treat depression," he said.

Thankfully, Gentile was quick to point out that playing a lot of games doesn't necessarily equate to depression, but that other indicators might point to a problem. "A lot of videogaming isn't the same as an addiction. Some kids can play a lot without having an effect on their lives. It's when you see other areas of your child's life suffer that it may be addiction. Parents might notice that a child doesn't have the same friends any more, or that he's just sitting in his room playing video games all the time. Or, there might be a drop in school performance," he said.

What do you guys think? Have you noticed increased feelings of depression or anxiety when you play a lot of games? Could these be linked?

Source: U.S. News

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I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

Well I think my occasional depressive feelings stem form other issues, but then I'm not "Addicted" to games.

Multifactorial. If you have a good social environment and nurturing, it's likely a lot of videogaming might not affect you as much.

Depression is a problem-solving exercise. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense. You tackle the issue head-on, you can solve it.

Gaming is escapism. Escaping from the problem won't help it go away. It might make you happy temporarily, but it's no cure for your depression.

Cliche as it is, it's all about moderation. Pace yourself. Escaping from RL is no solution.

Woodsey:
I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

I'm sure it's possible though, people can get a dependency on all sorts of things.

It's nice that he says that not all gaming equates to an addiction or depression, yet I fear that if this reaches tabloids that willl be forgotten.

Woodsey:
I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

Why is it that whenever game adiction is mentioned somebody says something to this effect?

I guess there's no such thing as a gambleing addiction either then!

Only time I feel sad is when I get my ass handed to me online =(.

This is actually very true, I see this in my little brother. He's socially awkward and very shy, but he gets lost in his video games and it's making the situation worse since he's becoming more and more secluded as a result. It's adding to his issues.

I know you're all gamers, and I am too, but before you throw the idea down think it through because it does have merit.

I only get depressed from playing games because it feels like I just wasted my time.

I still have fun though.

Cue 101 anxious and angry replies of how "NO! This is totally not true!" :p

Honestly, it greatly depends on how the person handling it treats that time spent in front of the computer. If they treat excessive videogaming as "One of the few things they're good at" or "One of the few things that make me happy" - then they're in trouble and you can expect anxiety and depression to soon follow suit.

However, if long stretches of playing are treated casually in the sense of "Woah...yeah, that was a big bender." or as in "Phew...well, I sure gamed enough for this week after the past 12 hours straight." then no - it won't lead to either anxiety or depression.

Some personality types find it easier to handle videogaming in the former style and others find it easier to handle it in the latter. *shrug* Not much else to it, except that I doubt most people are drawn to the virtual world moreso than the real one, even if the real one happens to be shit for them. I mean sure, we probably know and hear only of geeks and so we somehow percieve gaming to be 'viral' and 'extremely popular'. But for every one of us, there's at least 10 people who say "Nah - don't need no videogames to make myself feel better." and instead prefer things like say...alcohol. :P

Another article about this same study includes an additional bit of text: "The authors of the study, which was published in the American journal Pediatrics, say the finding requires more research. They doubt a cause-effect relationship between gaming addiction and depression. More likely the disorders are related in some unknown way, they wrote."

I suspect it would be hard to draw any significant conclusions without seeing the actual study, but I doubt that there's as direct a link in the study as is being implied in the media. The fact that excessive anything and depression are linked should be totally unsurprising though, whether that is eating, gaming, sleeping, or the writing of bad poetry.

moretimethansense:

Woodsey:
I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

Why is it that whenever game adiction is mentioned somebody says something to this effect?

I guess there's no such thing as a gambleing addiction either then!

Because there's a proper board or whatever that officially recognises addictions - that's why I used the words "officially recognised". I find that generally it helps if I have the ability to read before replying to someone's comment.

You could be addicted to all 6 seasons of Lost over and over but that doesn't make it big enough of an issue to devote so much research and shit into. You might spend as much time as possible reading and never leaving the house - addicted? Perhaps. Recognised as an addiction? No.

See what I'm getting at? Virtually everything has the potential to be addictive, doesn't mean they're all scientifically recognised as addictions.

I figured any addiction causes depression at some point. Alcoholism causes depression chemicly, gambling addiction causes depression when knowing they're going through a lot of money, so gaming addiction would probably work the same way I guess... a person playing because he "has to" and is miserable instead of just wanting to and enjoy it

SantoUno:
I only get depressed from playing games because it feels like I just wasted my time.

I still have fun though.

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I play games partly as escapism from reality or to, vent anger. I dunno what will happen if go a week without gaming. I'll just fill the time with more meaningfull stuff.

Well, I have noticed that accomplishing something challenging in a game can be more rewarding than some of what I do in life, but I thought that was rather the point--the more rewarding, the more you want to play. Unraveling the complexities of a story, or overcoming a complex session of platforming, or leading your team to victory all have explicitly rewarding feelings of both denouement and catharsis, and its occasionally hard to match that in life. We already know the feeling of passing a test, but the feeling of learning something new is invigorating and refreshing. Does this lead to depression? Well, it certainly could, I suppose. Perfectly logical.

Depression leads to video game addiction.

Pathological addiction to video games lead to depression?
I'm sure going to a bar get drunk every night and no one talks to you or you don't talk to any body would make you depressed and it's probably the beer fault (other than occassional misbehavoirs you may have done that brought peoples to ignore you).

Actually, I'm sure it's the missing part from a game addiction that cause the problem. May you drink only, you'll lack of food eventually. So if you have no actual social life whatsoever, virtual might just slowdown the process, but anonymous makes much more peoples be less concerned about your welfare than actual friends in real life, certainly won't help out not getting depressed.

At best, I play when I'm bored, but mostly when I can voice chat with good friends and my girlfriend while playing cooperative games.

Tripe.

For a start, let's have a little look at exactly how much info we have.

8-13 : Well...not much chance of background stress there, while going through puberty.
Singapore? So totally relevant to US, UK and Australia then - as there's no difference in diet, workload etc.
Depression? Well, that's a HUGE mental classification, that hasn't actually been classified.

And if, as Gentile says, playing games isn't the same as addiction, why are you saying that gaming addiction causes depression.

That's sort of like saying drinking water leads to alcohol use in later life, because kids who have drunk water have gone on to drink alcohol.

Correlation is there. Causation is simply not proven by a series of questions about games - or depression.

So, cut/scissors/paste again

"the gaming

Unspecified

precedes

Unspecified, as the child may have been depressed by other things (Let me see...what has gone wrong in Singapore between 2007-2009, well, there's the sharp increase in casinos brought in in 2005? The Tsunami in 2004...7% Tax increase in 2007)

the depression.

Unspecified ?illness?

We don't know if it's truly causal,

So it failed a significant test - the basis of most statistics.

but gaming has an effect on its own

Unqualified and meaningless

, and you can't just ignore gaming

Why not?

and treat depression

And depression can't be treated.

So...when kids from a land where nearly half are non-residents are taken away from a peer-group, like gaming, their symptoms of being pressured disappear...I think you could do that with nearly any entertainment at that age.

If you'd let me off playing football between 8-13, my symptoms of exhaustion, paranoia and bruising would have decreased, but that doesn't mean there's a correlation between football and self-harm. It means there's a whole team of guys in footie boots who don't want me stopping them scoring.

Maybe it's different because I was never addicted to videogames, but I've been gaming heavily since I was eight. When I was diagnosed with Manic Depression later in life I realised that playing games helped me. It was cathertic and allowed me to release some of the stress and tension of life, and gave me a tangible sense of achievement which helped to counterbalance a life I felt was inceasingly without achievement.

Woodsey:

moretimethansense:

Woodsey:
I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

Why is it that whenever game adiction is mentioned somebody says something to this effect?

I guess there's no such thing as a gambleing addiction either then!

Because there's a proper board or whatever that officially recognises addictions - that's why I used the words "officially recognised". I find that generally it helps if I have the ability to read before replying to someone's comment.

You could be addicted to all 6 seasons of Lost over and over but that doesn't make it big enough of an issue to devote so much research and shit into. You might spend as much time as possible reading and never leaving the house - addicted? Perhaps. Recognised as an addiction? No.

See what I'm getting at? Virtually everything has the potential to be addictive, doesn't mean they're all scientifically recognised as addictions.

I did read it, I was making a comment on the inevitable sleugh of "It's not an addiction comments".

Perhaps it's not officially recognized but that doesn't change the fact that many people simply can't stop.

Having said that I think the above study may just be bullshit, sure if your addiction is causing problems in your life you might get depressed, but how many spend so long on games without being depressed or otherwise unfulfilled in the first place?

Trust me my occasional depression does not stem from games. I would feel down about the things that get me down regardless of whether or not I play games.

But still, I have to say this again, I'm freaking sick of all these studies.

Nope, certainly doesn't apply to me, I'm playing way more video games than I should (Not 20hrs a day though) and I use it as escapism, I've already estabilished that any problems I have with depression, are caused by more personal factors.
And video game addiction is definately not recognised as an actual addiction, simply because the cases are so few between.

xDHxD148L0:
Only time I feel sad is when I get my ass handed to me online =(.

Here's your Donkey *hands you an Ass* :3

Well I sometimes get depressed but like most people have said before me and will probably carry on to say after me, Im not "addicted" to videogames. :3

When CNN discussed the study, they began by saying that video games cause mental illness, and then at the end said that mental illness causes people to play video games. So hey, we're all mentally ill! High fives all around!

Moeez:
Multifactorial. If you have a good social environment and nurturing, it's likely a lot of videogaming might not affect you as much.

Depression is a problem-solving exercise. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense. You tackle the issue head-on, you can solve it.

Gaming is escapism. Escaping from the problem won't help it go away. It might make you happy temporarily, but it's no cure for your depression.

Cliche as it is, it's all about moderation. Pace yourself. Escaping from RL is no solution.

And with that I rest my case as well. Thanks for the QFT worthy post.

I have to agree with The_root_of_all_evil here. Without more details and peer review you can have a study that claims pretty much anything and proves nothing.
How were the children selected?
Was there a control group?
How did they define depressed and addicted to video games?
Which video games? MMO? RPG? RTS?

The very first line says alot about the objectiveness of the study.
"What we've known from other studies is that videogaming addiction looks similar to other addictions."
As mentioned before the term "video game addiction" is really loose. I'm not sure it even exists.

Well, games are like any other hobby in this respect, it's just the current boogieman. These same "connections" were made to things like paper and pencil RPGs, comic books, and of course music ranging from old "feel good" Rock and Roll, to more modern Heavy Metal. The basic point being that people who are depressed withdraw into something, and as nothing else changes, the problem gets worse.

Of course the thing with depression and social concerns is that there is no real solution. Someone who doesn't fit in, isn't going to fit in no matter what anyone does. People adapt socially on their own, and if it's not happening no exterior force is going to make it occur. What's more these problems compound, a few simple changes, or a "differant attitude" is not going to undo everything that made someone a social outcast or pariah to begin with. Really the only way one could in theory address these problems would be to change the entire social order, which would probably cause the same problems for a lot more people even if it could be done. The result being that whether or not the pariah in question is objectively right or wrong nothing is liable to change the situation instantly enough to make a differance. In cases like this there is a bit of 'morality by the numbers' at play, where pretty much cutting the pariah loose (with even the establishment getting on them) is seen as being the lesser evil than changing things to conform with some moral code that demands there be no pariahs like this. A school for example is not going to expel 80% of the student base for picking on some kid, even if by rights it should.

Powerful escapism like video games might make the problems "worse" to an outside observer, who think that the pariah in question should be being socialized (and they lose the desire to do so), but given the lack of any way to change anything, people need an enemy to blame and video games are a good target.

Simply put it's easier to go after music, games, or whatever else than it is to actually force laws that would see mass expulsions from schools and so on. Like it or not pretty much every social group needs to have it's outcasts for people to vent on, it's been that way since the dawn of time, and right or wrong it's not going to change. It generally blows chips for the people in that position, and the people who have never been there simply can't "get" what it's like. Enforcing the rulest that exist to prevent this of course would destroy society since it's everywhere, and just imagine what it would do to countries like the USA if 80% of the people who would become educated to the current standard never were by trying to enforce the spirit of law and societal policy against the way things have been since the dawn of civlization. Every society has it's "fools", and if none occur naturally, we create them since the masses need those to look down on.

The only time I get depressed when playing a lot games is the thought that I'm spending so much time at home on my own instead of going out with my friends.

SteelStallion:
This is actually very true, I see this in my little brother. He's socially awkward and very shy, but he gets lost in his video games and it's making the situation worse since he's becoming more and more secluded as a result. It's adding to his issues.

I know you're all gamers, and I am too, but before you throw the idea down think it through because it does have merit.

I think most of us would agree that gaming isn't pure good and innocence. Most of us (I assume) would reasonably agree that social awkwardness can promote gaming, and that extra gaming can then limit social growth, which further hurts the individual, which means they game more, etc. So it's more of a spiral, where both factors play a part, and either can be the instigator of the cycle.

This study does look quite high profile and therefore credible, but they have found a correlation and:

CORRELATION =/= CAUSATION

They might have been getting more depressed anyway - the oldest age they got data from was 13, so mayeb they were just going into their teenage years and were being pumped up with hormones.

Woodsey:
I'm pretty sure that "game addiction" isn't even officially recognised as an actual addiction.

ha, it isnt.

trust me, I tried as a joke to get medicine for "Gaming Addiction Help" and the doctor laughed me out of his office.

also, Narcotics Anonymous does not have a sense of humor either for some strange reason.

OT: I noticed that they did the survey in Singapore............. so I guess cultural, social, and governmental influences across different nations is not a concern?

wow, good to know that the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, Iran, Evil/Good Korea and Japan are all the exact same in those areas!

Couldn't you say the same about anything you do "pathologically"?

I'd argue that it works something like this:

1 - The person has a problem that results in playing games excessively (e.g. difficulty socialising or addiction)
2 - Prolonged isolation exacerbates those issues (kind of a vicious circle)
3 - The issues eventually become the subject of depression

That's kind of from personal experience and I could be wrong of course. I guess I'm arguing that addiction could be a cause but it's not the only one.

They do understand that intelligence also causes depression, right?

SteelStallion:
This is actually very true, I see this in my little brother. He's socially awkward and very shy, but he gets lost in his video games and it's making the situation worse since he's becoming more and more secluded as a result. It's adding to his issues.

I know you're all gamers, and I am too, but before you throw the idea down think it through because it does have merit.

have you tried to look at outside influences as to why he wants to play games?

take for instance, maybe other kids make fun of him, or the school atmosphere makes him stressed or depressed?

Also he might be delving into games deeper than he should because he has nothing else to do, case in point writing in this thread since I am waiting for one of my games to finish patching

that's how I got into gaming, mainly other kids my age making fun of me for:

A: not going to church like everyone else [read: the whole town]

B: I was living with my Great Grand Mother while my parents were working out, and eventually failing, their marriage.

Gaming will only become an addiction if no one steps in to help.

don't get me wrong though, I would like to go out and hunt and do other things besides playing games, but you can only do that so many times before even going out gets boring.

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