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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 @01:30AM (#33329888)

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

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

      I don't think you can get addicted to anti-depressants.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 sayfawa (1099071) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:47AM (#33329954)
        Cocaine is a pretty good anti-depressant.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:09AM (#33330010)

        There's a world of difference between addicted and dependent. If you're using it for short-term off-label usage to kick an addiction (like smoking), you're unlikely to become dependent.

        However, if you've got a wildly varying or raging depression going on, you're quite likely to become dependent, including physical dependency. (See SSRI discontinuation syndrome)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Bupropion is not a SSRI - so there is no discontinuation syndrome. Also - it has little chance of being abused. Taking too much lowers the seizure threshold - it's not like people can get high off it. Plus - it has no sexual side effects like the SSRIs do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by alannon (54117)

          Just a note, Welbutrin isn't an SSRI, it's a completely different class of drug. Apparently it -does- behave in a similar manner to cocaine, though, but without any euphoria.

          • It seems to me that /. folks have quite a lot of knowledge about anti-depressants and drugs in general. I'm not sure what that means, exactly.

        • I've had to deal with SSRI discontinuation syndrome - "brain zaps". This shows up even in low doses, after a few months use. If you've ever played the "Penumbra" series, remember that effect and sound they use to simulate the character having a deja-vu?
      • 10 I'm sad.

        20 Take antidepressants.

        30 Feel better.

        40 Stop taking antidepressants.

        50 Realize I'm addicted to antidepressants.

        60 GOTO 10.

      • by pedantic bore (740196) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @05:18AM (#33330600)

        I don't think you can get addicted to anti-depressants.

        Oh my, no.

        I have a pal who forgot to take his Zoloft with him on vacation. The three days it took to refill his prescription were, according to him, horrible. He didn't suddenly get depressed--he got vertigo and his skin felt itchy and prickly. No fun at all.

        When he finally came off the Zoloft, he had to be weaned off it, a little at a time. It look months IIRC.

        If that's not physical addiction, I don't know what is.

        • by mr100percent (57156) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:28AM (#33331604) Homepage Journal

          "Zoloft shock" is not the same as an addiction. If you decrease your dose over time, you wean yourself off of it. A precipitous drop in Zoloft messes with your brain chemistry, it's not the same as a withdrawal craving.

        • by billcopc (196330)

          Yeah that's a different effect. I don't know what the nitpickers would call it... it's not really addiction, just a physical withdrawal. He didn't get depressed from quitting, but his body was craving all the other crap that's part of anti-depressants. A lot of things can trigger that very same reaction, and not just drugs. Some foods even!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Securityemo (1407943)
          This is not physical addiction - because there's no craving present to take more of the medication. Antidepressants don't stimulate the reward pathways in the brain, though this is an easy assumption to make.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          It's not addiction. Typically when a doctor takes you off a medication like that they'll decrease the dosage over a short period of time to eliminate the shock of being suddenly without. Compare that to say Cocaine where weening yourself off over a short period of time does little if anything and you'd see the difference. The harm your friend suffered was because of the sudden drop in levels, not the drop in levels. Some medications are more forgiving than others are.
      • You can't get addicted to a game, either.
      • by morari (1080535)

        You can become addicted to the feeling they give you. People who suffer from an already made up problem like depression could probably trick themselves into believing they have any sort of issue.

        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @12:22PM (#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."

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hedronist (233240) *

            Weirdly enough, in 1975 I suffered from real, honest-to-God clinical depression for over a year, and then went on to become (gasp!) a Scientologist. In some ways they did me more good than the shrinks at the VA hospital did, but then they (the Scientologists) started to get weird ... I mean really weird.

            Years before Hubbard's death in 1986, the "church" was exhibiting increasing signs of paranoia and absolutism — if you weren't 100% in agreement with every tiny thing that Hubbard had ever muttered,

      • by billcopc (196330)

        You don't get addicted to them, but many doctors love to prescribe those for life. Granted, it's a voluntary choice to continue but given the wealth of pharmaceutical disinformation out there, my gut reaction to this article is that Big Pharma has "identified" a group of vulnerable, low-self-esteem suckers to push pills onto.

    • Sample Size (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brainfsck (1078697)
      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.
      • that's a standard suck it and see type sample size.

      • How statistically significant were these results, given that the sample size was nineteen [nih.gov]?

        Significant enough to warrant another study with a bigger sample size. That's the nature of clinical trials: start small, and if you see any hint of an effect, repeat bigger. Then once your study has covered 1000 people, your new drug application is almost finished.

    • Best outcome would be better scores and an end to the addiction, of course.
    • Or for those of us who are skeptical about "videogame addiction", do they develop a real addiction to replace a fake addiction? For that matter, even if the drugs -aren't- really addictive, I guess they could be replacing a fake, socially unhealthy addiction with a fake, physically unhealthy addiction.

    • In other news, research shows that goal setting, eating right, exercising, going outdoors and getting sun light, and having friends and maybe a girlfriend/boyfriend also helps with Starcraft Addiction and reduces the time spent playing the game.

      Come on, its not rocket science. Anti-depressants work, but they are all "profit" based, as is probably this research. A little change in lifestyle can probably do just as much, except in the most extreme cases where mental illness is involved.

      • by genner (694963)

        In other news, research shows that goal setting, eating right, exercising, going outdoors and getting sun light, and having friends and maybe a girlfriend/boyfriend also helps with Starcraft Addiction and reduces the time spent playing the game.

        Come on, its not rocket science. Anti-depressants work, but they are all "profit" based, as is probably this research. A little change in lifestyle can probably do just as much, except in the most extreme cases where mental illness is involved.

        Getting an addicted gamer to do those things is not a little change of lifestyle.

  • by Jack9 (11421) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:31AM (#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?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by object404 (1883774)
        Weight gain is a common side effect for *many* anti-depressants. Increased appetite and hunger is common.
        • Of course, weight loss is a symptom of depression, so is it a side effect or the drug working as intended?

      • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @09:18AM (#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 bipbop (1144919) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:02AM (#33329994)

      I've been on Zoloft twice. The first time, I gained quite a bit of weight. Serotonin plays a major role in appetite regulation. In my experience, that means the feelings of hunger and satiety change, and if you don't adapt to these changes, you might just end up eating a lot more! My eating habits were poor, and I indulged these habits a lot more without the normal feelings to guide me. I never adapted, and I blamed Zoloft for the weight gain.

      Back on Zoloft, I've lost weight. About a year before starting Zoloft, I changed my diet completely and started exercising, and immediately began losing weight. While on Zoloft, that has continued (or perhaps accelerated a bit). Once again, my sense of hunger is a bit off, but with good eating habits in place, the only real difference is forgetting to eat sometimes.

      Of course, I can't generalize from my experience to everyone. 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 :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by willy_me (212994)

        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 a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brianech (791070)
      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 t
    • Look at the studies. In general, Wellbutrin does decrease appetite leading to weight lose. Please don't think that your experiences can be extrapolated to everyone. Especially, when the evidence contradicts you.

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:31AM (#33329898)

    Blizzard saw this coming, it was the only thing getting them off their asses for Starcraft 2!

    It's great they have a "cure" for Starcraft addiction... too bad it took them 10 years to crack it, now Starcraft 2 is out with "super-extra-addiction" added!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    And what about those of us who use Starcraft (2) [in a slightly-more-healthy manner] as a means to help treat our depression?
    • by Renraku (518261) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:01AM (#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 Zelgadiss (213127) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:40AM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Urkki (668283)

        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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by X0563511 (793323)

          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.

      • by AbRASiON (589899) *

        This gentleman gets it, food, sex, cigarettes, PS3, 360, PC games, masturbation, alcohol - many of these things make an excellent distraction for the depressed.

        Play games too much? You might be depressed not just addicted (also of note though, it's not the games 'fault' it's your distraction from the real issues)
        There's a reason I'm a fatty, it isn't just because I like food.
        Hell some people are fit as hell and depressed, gym = distraction.

        I wonder just how many people in this world are truly happy, with or

      • Hey,
        I got news for you. I've got border line depression sometimes too. And I have to force myself to do everything - exercise, eating right, not drinking too much, going out and meeting people, etc. Its life. In fact, if you read a lot you will find that many great and successful people also have to "force" themselves to do what they do.

        Abe Lincoln is an example of a great man that fought depression.

        In fact, I think people that are never depressed aren't normal. I've met people like this, and I actuall

    • by gangien (151940)

      fuck that. trying to beat the brutal campaign made me get depressed. i thought i was good at starcraft.

      but i did atleast beat it. took a while and several save/loads. taking out fliers for the last mission is way easier too..

  • Thank goodness no one has shown common drugs causing a decrease craving for Internet porn.
  • Zoloft (Score:5, Funny)

    by evwah (954864) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @01:58AM (#33329982)
    Zoloft rush kekeke ^_^
  • even better (Score:3, Funny)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @02:09AM (#33330008)

    I hear LSD, cocaine, and crack work even better to rid yourself of a StarCraft addiction.

    • There have actually been cases of stimulant use by pro-league gamers to get a competitive edge. I recall debate on whether they should start testing for drugs...
      • Well, if they start drug-testing professional gamers, they might want to do the same for professional eaters--we all know what a good toke does for the appetite.
        • what about professional wankers?
          I know a few people who turn into complete wankers, just with a sip of beer.
          No porn in site.

          • If it's not on ESPN, or otherwise newsworthy, it's not a 'sport'...drug testing ceases to be an issue.

            On an aside, if 'Major League Wanking' ever appears on ESPN (the normal ones; if it were on 'The Ocho', I might not care), I might shoot myself.
      • by Cylix (55374) *

        I knew this chick once who must have been bombed on some upper one night. She messaged me to see about coming over. (Good news was I only lived a few miles away). Hell, before I could respond was a another flood of text. Followed by, "why haven't you responded yet.". It's not that I'm a slow typist, but from her secretary duties she was leagues ahead of me. With the amphetamines she was running pretty quickly up stairs too at the time.

        You probably could do some damage in an RTS which has a primary limiting

    • Going a nice dinner date with a real live woman takes more time and has far fewer side effects than LSD, cocaine and crack.

      I don't know about StarCraft but World of Warcraft (WoW) and WoW Gold are the major source and cause of the Spam some nuts from Korea try to post on my blogs.

      I have moderation turned on so ...

      I might take on some ads for some remuneration but there is no way I'm giving it away.

    • by Degro (989442)
      LSD does not belong in your list as an alternate addiction. It's not. However if you're actually taking a manly dosage, computer screens are rendered absolutely unusable, so I guess it could be somewhat of a valid argument in that sense.
  • How do they make games that are like crack to gamers? I have been playing SC2, I enjoy it. And I feel bad that I haven't actually gotten around to playing it this week. I was trying to get through a single player level once a day (plus meeting any normal achievements), but it's more like once a week now.

  • Kind of like treating morphine addiction with heroin...
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Yeah, or treating a bacterial addiction with antibiotics. Or an HIV addiction with antivirals!

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @03:56AM (#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 X0563511 (793323)

      A better solution would be to find things to take up the time you'd normally pass with your passtime.

    • Does anyone actually watch "Idol?" I never hear the annoying "loud plot synopsizer" guy at work loudly synopsizing it to his inexplicable host of lady friends all within earshot...

  • One problem concerning Wellbutrin is its potential for addiction and recreational abuse>. [erowid.org]

    It functions as an ADHD and depression medication, but is also used to treat stimulant withdrawal of cocaine and nicotine. Like it's hugely popular counterpart Ritalin at high doses (ie. crushed and snorted or intravenous) it can induce euphoria, but with risk of seizure.

    Personally given the constant metaphorical references to videogames as being 'like a drug' it seems unwise to prescribe something like this to those

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by LiENUS (207736)
      Wow... I don't think you'll find too many people abusing bupropion. I only met one person who ever tried to abuse it, and he only tried once... for good reason too. It has this nasty side effect of causing seizures if you take too high of a dose.
      • Indeed; this was noted in my original post. The recreational potential is limited in part due to seizure factor.

        Disregarding the limited (mostly anecdotal) evidence for recreational interaction of Wellbutrin with other drugs there's another point to make:

        Here's the summary on PubMed.> [nih.gov]

        Note that the study also encompasses total hours played and craving symptoms. How was gaining such information possible other than subjective accounts from the sampled?

        Then there's the fact no placebo group was present: Ther

  • A drug that reduces both depression and the pleasure received from playing video games? How long before it becomes the most over-prescribed drug for teens and children? Maybe they'll even combine it with Ritalin to knock out that pesky daydreaming in class. There are way too many parents out there willing to try anything to help manage their kids (without actually spending time with them).
    • by Raptoer (984438)

      It doesn't reduce the pleasure received from playing video games, rather it works against the psychological addiction. It is already used as a smoking cessation aid. Doctors tend to be careful with depression medications given to patients under the age of 15, especially when it lowers the seizure threshold. Most parents would stop asking for it when told it can cause seizures (in ultra-high doses with patients that have a low seizure threshold naturally).

      • by s_p_oneil (795792)

        "as well as the brain activity triggered by video game cues"

        To me, that sounds like it reduces the pleasure/satisfaction received from playing the game, which would naturally reduce the chance of psychological addiction. That's a good point about the seizures, but the way you worded the risk makes it sound extremely low. I imagine trials will be tentative at first, but could pick up in popularity relatively quickly.

      • by s_p_oneil (795792)
        OTOH, it wouldn't surprise me if the media decided to tout it as a wonder drug for children and teens so that later they could turn around and report on its abuses. Two media circuses for the price of one.
    • Just watch for Vitamin D toxicity [merck.com]. In general, overdosing on natural stuff like carrots and liver oil is quite possible, and with at least weird, and sometimes toxic side effects. As for effectiveness, I doubt that. Whole foods and Vitamin D won't solve things like Manic Depression.

  • Why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hitmark (640295) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:39AM (#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 Cyberllama (113628) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:01PM (#33334488)

    The media and politicians really seem to like this idea, so it's a decent way to get funding for your study -- but is it really a problem we should be worried about? Video game playing is a form of recreation. Plenty of people spend more than 30 hours a week doing something they love, and very few of them are ever referred to as "addictions". We never talk about people being "addicted" to Golf because they go out and play Golf twice a week and watch a bit of Golf on TV in other free moments. The amount of time you spend on a form of recreation can suddenly make the difference between a perfectly healthy past-time and an "addiction". What about youths "addicted" to basketball? Hell, what about a passive activity that's arguably even more dangers: addicted to television?

    I'm not saying that some people don't spend an unhealthy amount of time playing video games and then obsess about them when they're not playing. But unlike proper drug addictions, these people are not ruining their lives in pursuit of their hobby. They aren't happy, well-adjusted individuals who "everybody really liked until the video games got him". They are people who are unhappy with almost every aspect of their life, and find the enjoyment in video games to be the only source of enjoyment they can look forward to. In short, "Video Game Addiction" is not a disease, its a symptom -- probably of depression. With that in mind, it does make sense that you could "treat" it with anti-depressants -- but should we really be focused on treating symptoms? Hell, it's not even really a symptom so much as it is a form of self-medication. I'm willing to bet that depressed individuals who develop video-gaming habits are probably much less likely to kill themselves. . .

    Oh, I know there are stories in the Newspaper about marriages being "destroyed" by World of Warcraft or whatever, but I'm pretty sure that if you show me a person who withdrew into World of Warcraft to avoid his marriage, I can probably show you a marriage that wasn't particularly happy in the first place.

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