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Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

Depression, Anxiety and Co-Occurring Screen Addiction

We Help Folks With Mental Health Conditons and Screen Dependence

Internet Addiction with Co-occurring Disorders is a very clinical way to talk about what we treat at reSTART. Being less clinical, we can just say that most of the folks who come to reSTART have more than one problem. Yes, their lives have fallen apart because of their gaming and other Internet activities, but when they come to reSTART most of them are depressed, anxious, and many have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some of them show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And many have physical problems such as severe sleep deprivation, under weight or over weight, and physcially deconditioned.

Our philosophy of care is to take a holistic view of each individual and address the whole person. The difficulties that our clients have are usually social, physical and psychological.

For those with a Video Game Addiction, Physical Health is Foundational

If you’re sleep deprived, sedentary (yet highly aroused), eating an impoverished diet and not taking care of your self-care needs like brushing your teeth, your health will quickly deteriorate. If this has been going on for years, you’re likely to be in bad physical health. You may find that you can’t sleep even when you try; you’re severely underweight or overweight; your body is not physically fit; and your teeth may be rotting. There are some gamers who have lost control to such an extent, gaming nonstop for 40 plus hours at a time, that they collapse dead at their computers from throwing a blood clot or from organ failure. If you’re someone whose absorption in digital media has caused you to lose appetite (or, not pay attention to hunger), you could end up like one of our clients who arrived at reSTART weighing 115 lbs. He was 6’2”. Another client was so chronically sleep deprived that he had waking hallucinations. Another had to have caps put on all his teeth.

So, one of the first things we address are these physical health needs. Regular sleep, healthy diet, lots of physical exercise, all in an environment that is screen free and stress free, go a long way toward restoring a sense of physical and emotional well-being. Our Naturopathic physician checks vitamin and mineral levels, blood sugar, and other components of health. She has consistently found low Vit D levels, and she has been successful in helping a number of clients reverse their pre-diabetic condition.

Without Mental Health We Cannot Attain Our Full Potential for Happiness

Along with the physical problems that our clients typically have, there are mental health problems beyond their compulsive Internet use. The vast majority of our client arrive depressed (sometimes suicidal) and anxious. Many come with a prior diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). About a third show traits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We’ve come to anticipate that some of these diagnoses will change over the course of their stay with us. Most of those who are depressed report not feeling depressed after the first month or so. This is because they are detoxed from screens, their physical health is being restored, and they are connecting to others. Those with ADHD may find that they really don’t need medication, or can reduce it, for the same reasons. Symptoms of anxiety and ASD often reduce, as well.

Self-esteem is built on, among other things, a sense of competency. As our clients gain mastery over the many simple things that they must do (like caring for the animals, learning to cook, caring for their physical living environment) they begin to feel better and better about themselves, which, of course,

contributes to a sense of wellbeing reversing the depression and anxiety they were experiencing before coming to reSTART. As they advance in the program, going into the Open World transition program and, perhaps, beyond that into Sustainability, their competencies accrue. They learn time management so they can get up in time for their paying jobs. They learn to be good, responsible employees. They learn to function as independent adults and, wow, does that ever feel good!

We All Need Real-life Social Connection, Face-to-face

Another component of self-esteem and well-being is being able to connect socially in a positive way. Many of our clients, from spending too much of their childhoods in front of screens, have either never developed good social skills or have lost confidence in their skills. They have friends online, in gaming communities, but those communication skills are often not pro-social and, even if pro-social, they may not translate into face-to-face social competence.

A beautiful thing happens at reSTART. In safe and intimate spaces, first at the Ranch and later at Heavensfield and Open World, our clients learn the skills of friendship-making. And their friendships are not the usual male-bonding friendships just covering gaming, sports and other external things. Instead, our clients learn to be honest and vulnerable with each other. They develop a capacity for real intimacy, a deep level of friendship that is unusual in our culture. This lays the foundation for the future, both in building friendships with men and women, but also in developing healthy, romantic relationships.

Treatment for Screen Addictions like Internet Video Game Addiction  Improves Health and Happiness

Long-term happiness and well-being are built on developing health in the realms of the physical, the mental, and the social. reSTART understands this. By providing the ingredients necessary to build health in all of these realms, our clients are able to grow and flourish in the rich environment we offer.

reSTART your life.

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Is Video Game Addiction Stealing My Child’s Motivation?

Is Video Game Addiction Stealing My Child’s Motivation?

How Do Video Games Affect Motivation, Leading, Potentially to the need for Video Game Addiction Treatment?

Video games may distort a person’s perception of effort, achievement, reward, progress and growth. While the extent of this impact on people could vary, prolonged exposure certainly has the potential to exacerbate these effects (up to 4% of all gamers become addicts, according to a conservative estimate by the World Health Organization last year). This is because video games are created to keep a player’s attention through sustained, instant gratification. There will always be another level to overcome, better armor to find, more items to collect, a score or leaderboard position to beat, etc. At all times throughout the game, there will be multiple achievements and an intertwining, low-effort/high reward dynamic that is in no way reflective of principles of achievement in the real world.

Can Video Games Affect My Child’s Brain, Making Him or Her Vulnerable to Video Game Addiction and the Need for Treatment?

Our brains are constantly changing to our environment, adapting so that it can most optimally operate. The way that the brain changes refers to a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, the ability to change neural structures as a result of learning and experience. Because of the brain’s ability to adapt, it is possible that video games can condition a mind to learn that growth and progress are instantaneous, sapping the motivation and energy to engage in long-term planning and delayed gratification. If the brain learns that instant gratification through video games satisfy its need for reward, how can energy for sustained effort through long-term, meaningful pursuits ever become realized?

What can I do? When Do I Need to Seek Treatment for Video Game Addiction?

Internet Gaming Addiction is a “pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences (World Health Organization, 2018).” Like other addictions, significant impairment in educational/occupational pursuits, family involvement, and social/personal functioning across a 12-month span needs to be observed for a diagnosis to be rendered.

If you or a loved one appears to be engaged in chronic gaming, affecting functioning and taking away from the motivation to engage meaningfully in life, treatment may be necessary in order to restore balance, health, and a real sense of growth, reward, and accomplishment.

 

World Health Organization: Gaming Disorder. (2018, September 14). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/

reSTART your life.

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Summer Camps versus Summer Therapeutic Programs.

Summer Camps versus Summer Therapeutic Programs.

Understanding the differences when seeking behavioral change

As you are looking for options for the summer, it is important to know and understand the differences between a summer camp and a summer program. reSTART is in favor of encouraging any activity or behavior that focuses on getting our students outside, active, and away from screens for a certain period of time, but for those students that are looking for specific support around Internet and gaming struggles, it is essential that you know the difference between these two options when considering treatment for video game addiction, screen dependence and mental health concerns.

Lack of Regulation

Summer Camps are generally unregulated and unlicensed. This means that they do not have the same standards such as training requirements or background checks. As a licensed program, we are accountable to the state licensing board and have regular audits for our staff and our facilities. This helps ensure that your child is receiving proper care, support, and attention in a physically and emotionally safe environment.

Summer Intensives at reSTART

The benefit of the reSTART summer program is that you get a shortened version of our propriety, state of the art, experiential program. This program includes in depth assessments, parent coaching, individual and group therapy, family therapy and our unique program design. This design has been developed over 10 years and has been shown to greatly improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of adolescents and young adults struggling with internet and video game problems and co-occurring mental health issues.

Combining Summer Intensive with Summer Camp Fun

reSTART also focuses on a lot of similar elements of your traditional summer camp. We want our students to be out in nature and experience the wonders that the outdoors have to offer. Our students participate in day hikes and overnight camping trips throughout the summer, allowing them that opportunity for connection and getting them out of their element, away from screens, and in an environment focused on positivity and growth.

Enroll early to ensure you have a spot

Late spring and summer is the most popular time of year to enroll at reSTART, so apply early to ensure you’ll have a spot. We look forward to working with our summer families and being apart of their amazing journey. See you this summer!

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.

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.