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Video Game Addiction and Depression

Video Game Addiction and Depression

Technology is one of the main developments of this century, it is common and accessible, to the point where the average person has at least one gadget. Electronic devices have spread exponentially, and with them video games. People can play anywhere and for long periods of time. This may seem appealing at first sight, nonetheless, excessive game consumption carries negative consequences for people’s wellbeing, video game addiction being one of them.

Addictive behavior

In the past, addiction was thought to be a mental disorder where the addict’s brain changes were the result of a psychoactive substance or chemical. Nowadays we know better, the structure/chemistry of the brain also changes following the repetition of a rewarding activity, giving place to behavioral addictions such as gambling, or the topic that concerns us: video game addiction.

Video Game Addiction

Like many mental disorders, behavioral addictions manifest in a variety of ways, and while the focus of the fixation may vary, the main symptom remains unchanged, which it is an overwhelming need
to consume the addictive substance or activity.

Those under the grip of video game addiction, invest a considerable large part of their time playing video games, and like any other addicts they wrongly believe that they are in control of their actions. Nevertheless, they struggle to stop their gaming sessions to engage in other activities such as working, studying or to exercise, eat and spend time away from their device. Moreover, they may feel extremely anxious and irritated when their gaming sessions are interrupted or suspended

Video Game Addiction and Depression

When it comes to mental health, a mental health disorder may co-occur in tandem with another disorder, this is known as comorbidity. When it comes to video game addiction, there is a strong correlation with depression and anxiety, meaning that those facing video game addiction might be facing a much more complicated threat.

How to Spot Depression

Since video games abusers are prone to depression, it is important to look for any possible warning signs. Overall, depression is a mood disorder characterized by a consistent and overwhelming feeling of sadness, it persists for long periods of time, and it can be accompanied by apathy,
hopelessness, and irritability; as well as changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

What to Do in Case of Depression and Video Game Addiction

Video games are enticing, they allow us to have fun, and share some laughs with our friends, but they were not meant to be the sole focus of our lives. Thus, it is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is facing video game addiction, especially if it is accompanied by depression.

Mental disorders can progress and intensify if untreated, and what at first is a light rain, can easily transform itself into a hurricane that takes with it everything we care about. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help, you are important, and there are mental health professionals willing to help you to overcome your addiction. Just reach out for help if you need it.

Overwhelmed by texts and emails?

Overwhelmed by texts and emails?

It is an understatement to say that the frequency of text messages and emails overwhelming our phones and inboxes leave many of us anxious and distracted. Our evolutionary history has not equipped our brains to respond to and then relax from these interruptions (and at times wonderful connections) in our lives. I have found that my need to create space away from these notifications has become a staple of my mental health. Even better than simple time away, spending time in nature brings the kind of calm that my nerves wait for while I respond to the next email.

Newer research is continuing to discover the profound impact that having or not having connection to the natural environment plays in our mental and physical health. As I cope with the everyday distractions of my technology connected life, I find myself longing for a place where I can hear myself think, allow my body to calm down, and connect to all that is around me. As research about the impacts of nature on our health unfolds, it is becoming clear that nature plays this important role in a way that other interventions are trying to keep up with.

I am grateful that I am able to spend part of my time as a therapist leading others to discover the beauty and calm of the mountains, ocean, and lakes of the Northwest. The picture shown is an image from one of our trips to Mt. Baker last year.

May you, too, discover your sense of calm and plan your next adventure to our home in nature.

#bodymindconnection

#bodymindconnection

Body-Mind Connection?

“Begin to tune in to that body-mind connection…” urged the Lulu lemon-clad instructor at the start of my group exercise class. Shortly followed by, “ . . .  remind yourself why you came today.”

As a counselor and dance/movement therapist, I am no stranger to these buzzwords but, today, they gave me pause. What are we really talking about when we talk about the body-mind connection?

Intrinsic Connection

More and more in recent years, mainstream society’s understanding of mental health seems to be waking up to a reality that dance/movement therapists and somatic practitioners have been aware of for years:the notion that the mind and the body are intrinsically connected. So much so, that a change in one influences a change in the other—a concept that movement therapy has used to facilitate psychotherapeutic treatment for over half a century. Of course, the awareness of a unified mind and body is an ancient one in Eastern philosophies, but in the 17th century René Descartes famously reinforced the old Greek notion of a mind-body split, which has dominated mainstream thinking until recently. Now as our Western society attempts to integrate ‘somatic’ or ‘embodied’ practices, it seems we run the risk of shaving them down to fit into the cerebral boxes with which we’ve become so comfortable.

But What is It, Really?

I often hear the mind-body connection defined as our ‘thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc.’ affecting our physical and biological body. While not inaccurate, separating our cognitive processes from the physical seems to be at the root of this great body-mind divide that we experience as a culture. As Christine Caldwell, PhD, puts it in her recent book Bodyfulness, “Eastern traditions typically don’t separate the mind from the body,but treat mind-body unity as an achievement rather than an essential state. This unity must be physically as well as intellectually cultivated . . . The issue is about coming home. The body isn’t a thing we have, but an experience we are.”

At Home in Your Body

When we attempt to solely control our cognitive and physical processes through intellectual means, we lose this experience. Our mind does not control the body; rather is it housed within our bodies-part of the greater whole. What we typically think of as products of the mind, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, are constantly occurring and moving within the body. When we recognize our bodies as a container for the movement of emotion we can release some of our society-wide desire for control and begin to familiarize ourselves with the feeling of being at home in our bodies—become curious, even, about their non-verbal language!

Tuning In

As I attempted to “remind myself why” I had gone to my boutique workout class this morning, (amidst the cues for ‘tiny pulses’) I noticed myself cognitively filtering through various reasons and stumbling over rationales for why I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ use them as motivators for engaging in physical exercise. I had become completely absorbed in my cerebral functions just moments after being asked to “tune in to that body-mind connection.”I decided to ask my body what she felt about all this. She continued to breathe, and move, and pulse, and lengthen, and shrink, and explore; grateful to be host to the mind’s inquiry. Ina world in which our intellectual skill are increasingly favored through technology and media, and heavily influenced by the external stimuli of those platforms, an integrative dialogue with the feeling wisdom of the body is more important than ever.

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

What is intimacy?

People have different ideas about the word “intimacy”. For many, it’s a code word for sex. We at reSTART do not think of it this way. We subscribe to the ideas put forth by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Dr. Brene Brown and Dr. Patrick Carnes. The Gottmans, through their 40+ years of research, say that intimacy is: “. . . the feeling that grows out of knowing another person’s past, present, and future in great detail (“love maps”) and they know the same about you. Intimacy requires the development of respect and admiration.”Dr. Brown talks about the sense of intimacy and trust that grows out of allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person, risking and “daring greatly” to be known. And Dr. Carnes talks about how, over time, two people come to know one another in an increasingly open way that develops trust. In the context of romance, he calls this “courtship”.

Friends With Benefits?

These ideas clearly overlap and get at the notion that intimacy is not sex. It really is the development, over time, of an open, honest, trusting relationship. This sounds like friendship, doesn’t it? And, indeed, it is that. In their study of satisfying, long-term relationships they found that the core of success was friendship, characterized by trust, respect, love and admiration. Between romantic partners there will be sex, of course, added into the mix.

Distorted Reality

The clients who come to reSTART have, for the majority, little notion of healthy intimacy. They have spent their growing up years playing video games, watching porn, and whatever other online activities they found interesting. The content of video games and porn was largely what informed their ideas about relationships. The more time they spent online and how early its overuse began influenced the ways their minds came to bewired.It is safe to say that most of our clients come to us with an intimacy disorder. They rarely know how to build and maintain close, intimate relationships, face to face,either with those they would like as friends, or those they would like as romantic partners.

Not Always As It Seems

Gamers often believe that their online friendships count as intimate, and, it is true that they may feel close to those they game with and talk to in their online communities. Sometimes these online relationships are mutual and sometimes gamers meet these friends in person and deepen their friendships or romantic relationships. But, here’s the thing, however close you feel to someone you only know online, the reality is that you have no way of truly knowing who they are. You may feel trust in this person and then have the trust betrayed either by them disappearing one day (a common occurrence) or meeting them one day in person and they are different from the person they presented to you online. We know, for example, of a 22 year-old man who had been having a romantic relationship for 10 years with an older man, pretending to be a grown woman when he was just 12+ years old. At 22 he was committed to never meeting this man, as he didn’t ever want to be discovered for whom he really was.

Shifting the Intimacy Paradigm

So, in conclusion, the online lives of our clients have, for the most part, not allowed them to develop the skills of intimacy-building. Their intimacy disorder can change within the safe, close environment of our program where they learn how to risk being vulnerable with one another. The change takes time, but many of them find that the investment in this growth is worth it. They, like all of us, need and want intimate relationships. As they discover a path toward it, their hopes for the future develop.

You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

You, Your Child, and Video Game Addiction: How to Foster Communication

Real Life and the Gaming World

The gaming world and the real world can seem at odds at times, especially when the potential for classifying video game behavior as addictive is on the table. On one side we have gamers who may either be playing without thought of potential consequence, gamers who are questioning the time they spend gaming, or gamers who remain in stark denial over the mounting evidence that technology could, in fact, be negatively impacting their quality of life; on the other side are worried friends and loved ones. For parents who eventually need to send their child to treatment over the deteriorating effects of video game use, the sentiment across all families are universal: ‘I wish I had done something sooner.’

Check the List

But how do I know if my child has a problem, and what are the early signs of video game addiction? It’s common that parents will not approach their child for fear of their children perceiving them as overreacting, or because they simply don’t know what to say. In the following, I will lay out the criteria that the APA is proposing for an individual to receive a diagnosis of Internet Gaming Addiction. Of the following nine criteria, five are needed for a diagnosis.

Preoccupation: Spends time thinking about video games, even when not playing them. Does your child feel like they are not mentally present during family or other activities?

Withdrawal: Feeling restless or irritable when not able to play games. Does your child become confrontational, or is there a strong change in mood when you try to limit your child’s technology use?

Tolerance: Needing to play more games in order to get the same excitement as before. Have you noticed that, over time, your child has become more and more preoccupied with their technology use?

Inability to Reduce: Attempting to play less but finding that they are not able to. Is your child finding that their want to play in transitioning into a need for gaming?

Giving up Other Activities: Is there a lack of pleasure in other activities that your child previously found enjoyable?

Continuing Despite Problems: Is your child aware of the negative impact of gaming on their life but chooses to continue gaming anyway

Deceive: Is your child hiding or lying about how much they are gaming?

Escape Mood: Is gaming becoming a way that your child handles stress or anxiety? Are they using gaming as a way to avoid or numb their feelings?

Risk: Is your child’s gaming creating risk of losing or harming significant relationships, employment, or performance in school?

Talking it Out

Communicating with your child or loved one about their gaming in an open, consistent, non-shaming way is a good way to foster honesty and trust. This can be hard sometimes, delineating ‘you’re breaking my heart with your gaming (more shame-based)’ from ‘it breaks my heart thinking that we haven’t been able to talk like we used to (more assertive-based),’ but more communication is better than none! Be honest with yourself—you deserve to feel however you are feeling in this moment. The best that you can do is share how you are feeling, specifically what your needs are. Open a dialogue with your loved one: how can we work together to both get our needs met? Communication can bridge the gap between parents and loved ones. It’s not about you vs. me; it’s about us vs. gaming, unhealthiness, and all factors that challenge our connection. To this end, we are all on the same side.

Brief Internet Game Screen for Parents (BIGS-P)

Understanding your son or daughter’s gaming behavior this past year

Instructions: This screen assists people in making decisions about the way their son or daughter engages in gaming activities. Please answer these questions based on your son or daughter’s engagement with gaming over the past year (i.e., 12 months).
For clarification, “games or gaming” are catchall terms which include online (i.e., the Internet) and offline engagement with games (e.g., video games, console games, handheld games, cellular phone or tablet games, computer games) or use of any other device capable of playing games, and includes the viewing of current or past games being played or broadcast (e.g., eSports).

*This tool is adapted from the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) developed to measure gambling behavior, and the DSM-5 criteria for IGD. Developed by Cosette Rae, MSW, LICSW, ACSW