There could soon be a novel method to combat depression, as a new study reveals that playing video games can help beat the blues.

University of California-Davis researchers are experimenting with video games and brain training programs to find a treatment for depression.

Video games specifically designed for people suffering from depression have been shown to provide some benefits. The study also revealed that the participants began enjoying playing these games and over time, played for longer durations.

Treating Depression With Video Games

For the purpose of the study, 160 subjects - whose average age was 21 - were selected. The researchers used six video games of three minutes each, which were designed especially for the study.

The games were based on neurophysiological training, which has been known to help improve the cognitive control in people who suffer from depression.

The video games made the subjects feel they had some control over the ailment, and the messages interwoven in the games struck a chord. The messages included motivational notes, which used to encourage the participants to play. Moreover, the approach to convey the messages was different each time.

These messages focused on depression, which was caused due to hereditary or chemical imbalance. The messages also targeted depression, which is because of personal choices and unfortunate occurrences.

Beating The Blues

The participants who were suffering from depression, which was caused internally, were able to control their illness. This finding supported the researchers' hypothesis, as it proved that brain training games are helpful in inducing cognitive changes.

The subjects who were suffering from depression, which was caused by an external source, were seen spending more time playing the games. The researchers surmised that this was due to instant engagement, but the results were not long lasting.

However, in both cases, it was noted that the introduction of the games led to an effort from the subjects to try and control their situation.

"Through the use of carefully designed persuasive message prompts ... mental health video games can be perceived and used as a more viable and less attrition-ridden treatment option," noted Subuhi Khan from the University of California Davis.

A similar study was conducted by Joaquin A. Anguera, who is a researcher at the University of California, and her team. The study included participants who were suffering from late life depression or LLD. The results of this study were positive as the participants showed an improvement in their mood.

The latest study has been published online in Computers in Human Behavior.

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