Gaming may curb depressive symptoms

By Staff Writer

Many people are prone to turning to illicit substances to relieve depression and anxiety, but new research suggests that there is a safer way to relieve stress: gaming. Casual games, such as Bejeweled and Peggle, are often downloaded and played on mobile devices during instances of boredom. However, a recent study has determined that these games may be beneficial to an individual's mental health.

East Carolina University's Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic examined approximately 60 people who had symptoms of clinical depression over the course of a year. The participants played non-violent, family friendly games developed by PopCap Games, the underwriter of the study.

Experts concluded that the individuals showed a reduced level of anxiety after using these games on a regular basis. Subjects also display an improved mood over time. The researchers were able to determine that casual games can have a positive effect on depressed patients without the need for medication.

More than 20 million Americans suffer from a mood disorder annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Drug rehab programs can help individuals who have turned to substance abuse to cope with depression, but gaming may be beneficial as well.