Pokémon GO is Actually Helping Sufferers of Depression and Anxiety

I really wanted to resist writing another article about Pokémon GO today, because it already seems to be everywhere I look. But when I came across this, I just couldn’t help myself.

The article, published by Science Alert, reports on the unintentional benefits that the Pokee-mans are having on those that play, namely, helping with various mental health conditions.

#PokemonGo has already been a better treatment for my depression than anything my doctor prescribed or therapist recommended,” says Twitter user Jesseanne Pope.

And user HiRez David says “Real talk – as someone with anxiety/depression, the fact that I’ve spent most of this weekend outside with friends is unreal.#PokemonGo

Psychologist John M. Grohol of PsychCentral says the boost in positive mental health in these individuals may well be a side effect of the good old fashioned fresh air and exercise the app encourages.

“For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do,” he writes.

“For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others that may want to talk to you is daunting.

“I think this is a wonderful demonstration of the unintentional but beneficial consequences of gaming and producing a game that encourages healthy exercise.”

While many developers have attempted the creation of such motivational apps, none have gotten anywhere near the level of attention that this has.

“Hundreds of app developers have tried to develop mood-altering apps by encouraging people to track their mood or with encouraging affirmations. But these apps rarely catch on, and few people continue using them past the first week,” says Grohol.

“The developers behind Pokémon Go didn’t mean to create a mental health gaming app. But they’ve done so, and the effects seem to be largely positive.”

While I certainly hope no one else stumbles across a dead body during their search for digital monsters, the health benefits of spending time in nature are also a benefit the app provides, seeing as the best Pokémon are found by tress or bodies of water. Sans Magikarp though, he sucks.

It will be interesting to see some statistics around obesity in young people in, say, 12 months’ time. What if Pokémon is actually the cure for childhood obesity and other nasty ailments? Decades of medical and social research bested by fucking Pokémon. Incredible.

I, for one, am exhilarated by the thought.