Sep 282011


Well that sounds like a fun topic!  I understand that most folks are uncomfortable discussing depression, it can be, well, depressing.  So why bring it up at all?  And what is depression’s relationship to gaming?  First of all, I have depression.  Second, I am a gamer and there is a clear correlation between my gaming and my particular level of depression.  Third, knowing the symptoms of depression – both personally and professionally – and being familiar with many gamers, I have observed that many gamers may suffer from depression as well; perhaps at a higher percentage than the general population.

What Is “Depression”?

So, just what is depression?  It is more than just temporary sadness.  In fact, sometimes it is not even expressed or felt as “sadness.”  The biggest expression is a feeling of “lack” – a lack of ambition, lack of desire, lack of appetite, lack of worth, lack of hope, lack of focus, lack of energy.  We are all too aware of the tragic consequences of prolonged, untreated depression.

How do you know the difference between normal sadness and clinical depression?  The key is the prolonged nature of depression.  Sadness comes and goes, caused by particular events – from a tear-jerker movie to the loss of a loved one.  Depression is always there – sometimes less pronounced, sometimes more so.

What Causes Depression?

What causes depression?  The most recent research reveals a strong genetic, biological component.  Social influences and particular experiences can exacerbate the underlying tendencies towards negative thoughts and feelings.

Is It Just Weakness?

Isn’t depression just laziness or being weak?  No.  Is someone with heart disease, cerebral palsy, allergies, acid reflux, or fibromyalgia lazy or weak?  No.  Can a person with acid reflux simply “will himself” to not feel pain when he eats jalapeño peppers?  Can a person with heart disease simply “will” her heart to beat properly?  So can we expect someone with depression to simply “will himself” to feel better, to be motivated, to love life?  No.

How Do You Fix It?

So what do you do about it?  Like so many diseases and disorders, depression is treatable though not curable.  Like so many diseases and disorders, treating depression requires a combination of medication and therapy – cognitive, emotional and physical.

To Be Continued . . .

So what does all of this have to do with gaming?  I will explore just that in the next part.  Depression is a part of my life, and so is gaming.  And I believe that gaming can both help, and hinder, one’s experience with depression.  Furthermore, I believe that depression is not a death-sentence.  Sure, sometimes it sucks; but there is hope, even fun.  Join me next time and I promise fun will be had.

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