Can Playing Video Games Help with PTSD Symptoms?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that affects people who have experienced traumatic events, such as war or rape, and it can cause symptoms such as flashbacks that could affect their ability to function. Research suggests that certain video games help with PTSD symptoms. In one study, participants who played Tetris, a video game that requires visual-spatial skills to stack shapes, within six hours after exposure to a movie that included disturbing images reported fewer flashbacks than people who did not play the game. Researchers believe that engaging the brain with visual-spatial activities in the short-term aftermath of traumatic events might prevent the brain from fully creating mental images of the event, thus reducing the frequency of flashbacks.

More about PTSD:

  • About 3.5% of the US population is thought to suffer from PTSD, and less than half of the people who have the disorder report having received treatment.

  • People who have PTSD might have greater amounts of stathmin, a protein in the body that is thought to be responsible for forming fearful memories. A study of mice found that those without stathmin were less likely to show signs of fear.

  • More than 40% of US soldiers in Iraq who sustained head injuries that caused loss of consciousness also reported having PTSD within three months.

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