Pandemic Depression: Have You Tried Video Games?

2020 has been a difficult year for us all. The raging pandemic has kept more people indoors. Extroverts have become introverts and people have more time than ever before. This has led to many reports of depression. Winter is coming and the solution might be video games.

Pandemic Depression: Have You Tried Gaming? Cover

There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year for many people. The pandemic has been raging for nearly a year, and we are only now receiving news of a vaccine. Reports have said that life will still be rocky for a while. This might be the darkest timeline. Many people have become depressed. Radio stars mention it, the news, even ads on Facebook. Yes, it is universally agreed that people are having a hard time coping with indoor living during this time of uncertainty. So how do we as a community help? 

There answer to the uncertainty might be video games. Think about it. Many gamers have that story of that one game they love above all others. Whether they happened to pick it up as a kid or as an adult. Being someone who has talked to many gamers, it is obvious that so many of us share an emotional connection to the games we love. Some have shared stories about how a game made them think twice before doing something drastic, while some have just shared how games have made them a better person. Gaming has the power to influence the hearts and minds of the people who play them. 

A Grim Look

The pandemic has brought an increase in depression symptoms thanks to isolation and lockdowns.

The pandemic has brought an increase in depression symptoms thanks to isolation and lockdowns.

Depression is a serious health issue. Studies estimate that there are over 300 million people around the world who have depression. It is also estimated that “15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.” The pandemic has not helped this. In fact, it has made it much worse. During this time, the world has seen economies collapse, sporting events get canceled, and entire countries go into lockdown. Isolation helps to breed anxiety and depression, but how much worse has it been?

A study was done on 1,441 participants and compared to a pre-pandemic study. Under normal circumstances in the U.S, depression symptoms are found in roughly 8.5%. The study showed that depression rates have more than tripled during the pandemic to 27.8%. Dr. Brittany LeMonda said that “there are many factors contributing to this increase in mood symptoms, including increased social isolation, economic hardships, and exposure to other stressors.” It really shows how traumatic of an event this has been on everyone. 

Animal Crossing: A Beacon Of Hope

Animal Crossing New Horizons and Mental Health | Screen Therapy

Animal Crossing: New Horizonis the latest game in the line of Animal Crossing titles, but it has far been the best of them. The game alone sold more than 10 million copies in the quarter it was released. To put that into perspective, Animal Crossing: New Leaf sold 12.82 million copies within its lifespan. Nintendo has also mentioned how they are having record sales of the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles. That’s not bad considering the lack of funding households are receiving at this time. Companies have remarked that Nintendo’s sales are up because of the pandemic. Science backs this up as well. 

“It’s a great idea to stay away from the news or limit news consumption, so turning to a game like Animal Crossing can be a great way to reengage without escalating your own anxiety symptoms. It’s completely healthy to try and escape right now,” said Dr. Regine Galanti, author of Anxiety Relief For Teens.

Oxford University conducted a study where they used New Horizons to test whether video games helped with mental health. The study found that people who play Animal Crossing and Plants Vs. Zombies report a greater sense of “wellbeing.” That is far different than what mom would say when we were younger. She can even be heard yelling now that ‘video games are bad for you!’ It turns out they might be helping people escape during this time of crisis. The study couldn’t confirm whether other video games made a significant improvement, but they plan on doing more in the future. 

Everyone Run To The Store

Gaming has helped to bring families closer together during the pandemic.

Gaming has helped to bring families closer together during the pandemic.

Okay, maybe don’t run down to the store just yet; after all, nobody wants to get sick. Maybe order a game or two online or grab a controller and join your child for a round of NBA 2k20. That’s what Sean Gregory of Time Magazine did. Back in April, he wrote an article about how he has been surviving the lockdowns and isolation. He broke up the “monotony” by sitting down with his son and engaging in some good ol’ fashioned basketball. 

“I find myself looking forward to our daily (or more) 2K battles to break up the monotony. We talk some trash. We share a few laughs.” Sounds like a great time. Maybe it’s something everyone should try out. It couldn’t hurt to expand horizons, so to speak. Others have found new friends while traversing islands in Animal Crossing. Even famous individuals have broken into the gaming space and invited people to explore their islands.

Just A Suggestion

Video games help to create a sense of control in a time when control is lost.

Video games help to create a sense of control in a time when control is lost.

Video games have been surrounded by controversy from the moment they came into creation. As screens become larger and more involved in everyday life, people have tried to limit them. This is in no way a call for everyone to pick up a tablet and waste away the day by staring at it like a zombie. After all, screen addiction is a real thing. Instead, it is a call to help those who may be struggling during this uncertain time. Maybe taking a few hours of the day to sit down and enjoy a break from reality will help those who need it the most. Everyone can break away; do it in moderation. 

As a reminder, if anyone is struggling and they feel like they need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to call and ask for help. Follow the link to get the National Helpline phone number. They help those in need by referring them to someone who can help. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>