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Medicine Real Time Strategy (Games) Games

Anti-Depressants Used Against StarCraft Addiction 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the oh-science-what-won't-you-try dept.
dotarray writes "Hope may be at hand for the poor souls addicted to video games. Recent research from South Korea has shown that a common anti-depressant, Bupropion (sold as Welbutrin, Zyban and Voxra) can 'decrease craving for Internet game play' as well as the brain activity triggered by video game cues. This is a drug often used to help quit smoking, to lose weight or to recover from drug addiction, in addition to typical anti-depressant and anti-anxiety uses. And, with Korean scientists already on-board, how better to test this theory than to gather up a bunch of StarCraft players?"
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Anti-Depressants Used Against StarCraft Addiction

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:30AM (#33329888)

    Do the addicts stay off or do they simply get addicted to a new substance (anti-depressants)?

  • by Jack9 (11421) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:31AM (#33329896)

    This is a drug often used ... to lose weight

    Generally, antidepressants don't do this. Wellbutrin (from experience) also, does not do this. Which ones do?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:38AM (#33329920)

    Being less depressed can often lead to living a more active lifestyle. Thus, they can be used to lose weight, but do not themselves cause weight loss.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:46AM (#33329950)

    ya, not really.

    also ADs normally get used in a controlled enviroment in together with a therapy, the aim is to help in therapy and to kick those ADs at some time off, when you are finished with therapy

  • by Renraku (518261) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:01AM (#33329988) Homepage

    Speaking as someone who has battled with depression (without medication) for years, I can say that people who are depressed don't play video games to treat their depression. They play as a distraction. Instead of sitting there from 6pm until 10pm doing nothing, all you have to do is double click the icon on your desktop and you're in. Rather than having to find the motivation to see if anyone wants to go out. Rather than trying to find the motivation to go have a beer or go for a walk in the park. Rather than trying to find the motivation to hit the books and study for that exam.

    One of the major points of depression is lack of energy/motivation. When I'm depressed, I have to force myself to follow my exercise routine. I have to force myself to go out. I have to force myself to do something OTHER than refreshing Reddit and Slashdot while WoWing it up. I enjoy those things, even while depressed, but the motivation to do them just isn't there.

  • by object404 (1883774) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:01AM (#33329990) Homepage
    Weight gain is a common side effect for *many* anti-depressants. Increased appetite and hunger is common.
  • by Zelgadiss (213127) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:40AM (#33330116)

    Been living with depression for quite a while now.

    I didn't really have much motivation to do anything, video games seem to be the exception.

    I think it's because they are psychologically addictive to some extend, they have a very well tuned effort / reward cycle.

    Games like WoW gives you relatively achievable goals to get and rewards you with a sense of achievement when you complete them.
    A nice escape from the feelings of powerless and hopelessness of real life.

  • Sample Size (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brainfsck (1078697) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:14AM (#33330216)
    How statistically significant were these results, given that the sample size was nineteen [nih.gov]? I wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions considering the control and experimental groups must have included 10 or fewer people.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:56AM (#33330326) Homepage Journal
    american idol, jeopardy, or similar other programs. doing that every night is so much more 'normal' and 'good'. its a good pastime habit ...
  • by Brianech (791070) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:10AM (#33330354)
    Im on Citalopram for anxiety (had bad anxiety since I was a kid, but recently my doctor noticed my blood pressure is too erratic because of it). When I first started it I ended up losing 20 pounds due to the nausea. But once the side effects from starting the meds were gone, my weight returned to normal. I eat the same amount since the side effects stopped and personally dont think Citalopram would be responsible. But everyone is different, and I think its more personality that affects how you change with the drug. I drink more than I did before because I was so anxious about drinking. Same could go with people for eating. I dont think its the drug that does it, its how people who have dealt with anxiety/depression deal without it.
  • by Urkki (668283) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:46AM (#33330690)

    When I'm depressed, I have to force myself to follow my exercise routine. I have to force myself to go out. I have to force myself to do something OTHER than refreshing Reddit and Slashdot while WoWing it up.

    And if you succeed, you're not really depressed... Real depression is when you can't force yourself to get out of bed even to do the "distractions" instead of what you really really should get done today.

    I think almost everybody sometimes has to force themselves to do what they need to do, even when that is enjoyable. Real depression is when, more and more often, you just can't. Your conscious mind says "now I get up and do this", but your body stubbornly doesn't obey but keeps doing whatever irrelevant it was doing, like writing to slashdot.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:20AM (#33331256) Journal

    Motivation to go have a beer? When you're depressed? Yeah, that's just what you need, to sit in a smoke-filled room and ingest depressants with the other losers who think that spending too much on a mug full of fuel additive is good treatment for their depression.

    Now, I don't claim to know what will definitely work for you, but I always feel great after doing something physical, so my suggestion would be to get a gym membership*, and a personal trainer to harass you when you don't show up (if depressed, it's really easy to lose he motivation to actually visit the gym, no matter how great you feel afterwards.)

    *doesn't have to be a traditional gym. Climbing gym, or dojo, or any other physically straining activity that you actually find interesting will do. Hell, indoor skydiving probably counts until you develop the muscles and flexibility to do it effortlessly.

    The point is to do something real. Video-game achievements just aren't a high-enough density feeling of accomplishment to really satisfy you for the rest of the day. They're robbing you of time you could be doing something that really helps you.

  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:18AM (#33331542) Homepage

    True enough. But I don't think it's just that.

    When you're depressed, it's really hard to refrain from indulging in behaviors that you know aren't particularly healthy or in your long term interests. Your mind demands the small bit of relief that comes from eating unhealthy food, smoking a cigarette, hitting Battle.net and pwning some poor n00b. In all cases, you may realize that the behavior is going to cause problems down the road, but because you're depressed, it's hard to care.

    So it makes sense to me that antidepressants might be effective in breaking such a variety of bad habits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:44AM (#33331690)

    Because withdrawl cravings certainly aren't brought on by changes in your brain chemistry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:57AM (#33331762)

    This.

    On days when it feels like I'm in control of absolutely nothing, all I have to do is play a game and the world disappears for a few hours.

    Feeling powerless sucks; the real reason people who play games don't get laid is because they feel powerless to get themselves laid. The game-playing is just a symptom of that hopeless feeling.

  • Why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hitmark (640295) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:39AM (#33332020) Journal

    do i get the impression that the underlying cause for all are a depression, and that the "addiction" is basically the persons way of getting away from the depression. Kid gets depressed for some reason or other, then find relief in playing a game. Thing is, the parents never noticed the depression. But they do notice the number of hours spent playing said game. End result, they thing the kid is addicted to a game rather then something else.

    Thing is, its easier to drug the kid into being a averagely behaving consumer then it is to actually look at why said kid was depressed. This because it is likely that societal changes will be needed to actually fix the source of the depression.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:43AM (#33332046) Journal

    Motivation to go have a beer? When you're depressed? Yeah, that's just what you need, to sit in a smoke-filled room and ingest depressants with the other losers who think that spending too much on a mug full of fuel additive is good treatment for their depression.

    What a bunch of moralistic bullshit. Socialization is a major factor in happiness. For a depressed person, going out to have a drink with friends can do a lot for their mental health. Getting a little disinhibited from the alcohol helps too. Obviously you can over do it. But that doesn't mean that going out for a drink with friends isn't an entirely healthy activity for someone to engage in.

    The point is to do something real. Video-game achievements just aren't a high-enough density feeling of accomplishment to really satisfy you for the rest of the day.

    Maybe to you they're not. Personally, I don't see much difference between putting a ball in a hole or putting a sprite through another sprite. As for the feeling of accomplishment, you're playing the wrong games. Get away from the grind fests and play something challenging. Completing a difficult game, like ascending in nethack, or completing a hardcore shmup is a feeling of accomplishment that stays with you for a lot longer than a day.

    Physical activity *is* very good for depression, because of the physiological effects of exercise. Video gaming can't replace an active lifestyle, I just object to your characterization of gaming as not "real". It's as real as any other hobby.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:22PM (#33332696)

    People who suffer from an already made up problem like depression could probably trick themselves into believing they have any sort of issue.

    Jesus H. Christ, who let the Scientologists in here.

    Ordinary depression is something that all of us face at one time or another, and most of us come out of it. In spite of your claim, depression exists, and if you're suffering from clinical depression, i.e. a lack of specific neurotransmitters in your brain, those drugs can save your life.

    Really, they can. Personally, I'd like to know how many people with clinical depression have committed suicide because some idiot fawning over Tom Cruise and the rest of those sociopathic fruitcakes convinced them to eat more vegetables and not get the help they needed. Sorry, buddy, but there are some things that you cannot cure on your own, some things that can't be handled by just "sucking it up" or "growing a pair" or any amount of psychotherapy. The brain is an organ, by far our most complex one, and like all others it can malfunction in ways that may require chemical intervention. If you meant to say, "depression (clinical or otherwise) is often improperly treated by the medical profession" I might agree with you. On the other hand, stating that depression doesn't exist is just wrong, and does anyone suffering from such a debilitating condition a disservice. To extend your logic, we might as well not bother treating diabetics with insulin because well, you know, those changes in blood glucose levels are just imaginary. Why is it so hard to accept that the brain may also have issues with too little or too much of certain critical compounds?

    I've had to deal with the long-term effects of clinical depression in my family, and it's a terrible thing. Before the advent of antidepressants, about the only thing a physician could do was prescribe sleeping medication. That would sometimes help, because depressives are often sleep-deprived, but it's hardly a cure. Oh, lithium has been around for some time as a treatment, but the side-effects are unpleasant.

    Now, I will agree, antidepressants that are prescribed carelessly are ineffective at best, dangerous at worst ... but that does not mean they should never be used. Also, you seem to be comparing antidepressants to recreational drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth: a person with clinical depression who is on a properly-titrated antidepressant regime doesn't get high, doesn't get addicted to anything but feeling normal, being themselves again. That's what those drugs can do: they can give you your life back. It is not always a simple process, and a given individual may have to try multiple drugs over time to find one that works for him. I've not personally suffered from clinical depression, but like I said, I've had to deal with the consequences, and it really, really pisses me off when people who don't know what they're talking about claim "it's all in their heads."

  • by willy_me (212994) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:28PM (#33332750)

    I take Ritalin for Narcolepsy. It acts as a appetite suppressor but the overall effect is still weight gain. What happens is that you don't eat much during the day because you're not hungry. But when the drugs wear off at night you suddenly become famished and end up overeating. The fact that you are exhausted when the drugs wear off just adds to the trouble because you lack the ability to think (or care) about what you're eating. No snack food of any kind allowed in my kitchen. I find that so long as it takes at least 20 min to prepare food, I will be fine. It took me a few years to learn this.

    So I believe that any mood-altering medication can result in weight gain/loss. Overall effect appears to depend largely on the person taking the drug. It takes time to adapt to such a big change to one's brain chemistry. And in my case, I had to change my lifestyle to compensate.

    But I'd still suggest working on your eating habits before going on an anti-depressant, simply because it is helpful outside that context, as well :-)

    Your advice is good but I would like to expand on it. Try recording both what you eat and how you exercise throughout the day before taking any medication. Then when you start taking the medication, try to not change much. Give your brain time to adjust - your body will be grateful for the effort.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:52PM (#33332948)

    So don't let it hold you back. I know there are days where I lay in bed for an hour, not even wanting to get up. But I beat it most of the time.

    Hate to break it to you, but not feeling like getting out of bed every once in a while is not depression. Having a bad day is not depression. I understand you're trying to empathize, but what you've described isn't depression. And to be quiet frank, having someone equate their having "the blues" every once in a while to the torment of actual depression is really annoying. The two simply do not compare.

    I've battled depression for 25 years - I'm 31. Some years, I'll have one depressive episode that lasts only a couple months - I consider those the good years. Other years, I'll have a depressive episode that last 6 months. And other years, I'll have multiple depressive episodes, each lasting a couple months and broken up by good periods for a month or two. Those are the bad years. The past couple of years have been really bad - the worst I've ever dealt with by a long shot.

    When I get really bad, I am a completely different person than when I'm not depressed. I don't talk, get paranoid, feel hopeless, consider the ramifications and methods for suicide, feel that everyone would be better off without me, consider walking away and just disappearing, don't sleep well, don't eat well, I can't think straight, etc. I've looked at how I act during a depression, and I wonder who that person is. It's hard for people around me, I hate how it affects my wife. One of my worries is that I'll pass this onto my children - I try hard to shield my daughter from my depression, because I know it gets passed on in the family somehow. Thankfully, I haven't become the alcoholic my father became, so thank goodness for the little things.

    Ironically, the fact that I've battled depression for so long means that, over the years, I've built up a collection of coping mechanisms. I've tried medication, all it did for me is to make me feel numb, gain weight, and make my dick soft. So, I've had to figure out other strategies through trial and error and a lot of research.

    1. Alcohol is a depressant. I know that even one drink can affect me. Not when I've had the drink, but the day after. I'm not a light-weight, I don't get drunk off of one drink. But one drink can, and does, affect my mood in a negative way. So avoiding alcohol is a strategy.
    2. Daily exercise. It doesn't even have to be intense. I walked my daughter around the neighborhood yesterday. That was wonderful.
    3. Sunlight. I have a full spectrum lamp in my office, but there's no substitute for going outside and getting a few minutes of sunlight.
    4. Eating healthy. Sugar and highly refined carbs really affect my blood-sugar levels. The more stable I can keep my blood-sugar, the less affected my mood is. This means avoiding foods with added sugar, stuff with enriched wheat flower and making sure I take in enough fiber and quality protein.
    5. Meditation. Nothing fancy, just counting breaths and relaxing.
    6. Journaling. I record stuff like my mood on a day, diet, etc. It's therapeutic, and I can see that some days aren't so bad as others. It offers perspective.
    7. Talking to someone who will listen. Not just anyone will do, and I don't think it's fair to dump on my friends, so I don't. I first ask someone if I can talk to them. And then I ask them not to try to troubleshoot or give advice. Just let me get things out. Not a lot of people can do this. People want to help, but depressions are insidious in that the only person who can stop being depressed is the depressed person, no one else can make them. No matter how good their advice is.
    8. Regular sleep. This is the hardest for me, but I know that getting irregular or bad sleep really affects my mood. Bad sleep feeds the depression which causes me more sleep troubles and creates a positive feedback loop.

    So, from the above list, everything people have said

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:08PM (#33334052)

    Something like sleeping for 10 hours, trying to get yourself to do something... finally giving up and just going back to sleep for 6 hours? ... maybe I should do something about this.

    Yeah, that's the predicament...

    First step is to accept the situation and then replace that "maybe I should" above with "I need to". Sort of like "sun will rise tomorrow", you just have to accept it, and (for all practical purposes) there is no maybe, but also it's nothing to worry about.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:14PM (#33349644) Journal

    I started taking it and I started losing interest playing wow with my wife. I ended up despising it but I never got the connection. I just assumed there are better things to do and feel guilty playing World of Warcraft when I am underemployed. I also understand the possible correlation between under/unemployment and World of Warcraft. :-) So I quit. Whether it was Wellubutrin or a more positive outlook after stopping MMORPG is up for debate. The 2 go hand in hand as those who take such medications have a genunuine desire to better themselves than those who do not care( who would not want to take anything or quit gaming anyway)

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