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Pokémon Go as a tool to combat mental disorders

Pokémon Go as a tool to combat mental disorders

May 10, 2021

Probably at present, almost everyone will know the video game franchise Pokemon , either for these or for their anime series, for their comics, for their collectible card games or for any of its wide range of derivative products. But without a doubt, the biggest milestone of this franchise, has been the premiere of its first mobile game called Pokémon Go .

What therapeutic opportunities does Pokémon Go offer us?

Pokémon Go is an application for Android and iOs operating systems in which its main attraction is its augmented reality type gameplay, through which, using the camera and GPS of the smartphone, we can capture Pokémon while we walk on the street. The psychologist Adrián Triglia He already commented in another article several of the features of the game that has turned Pokémon Go into a kind of global fever.


It is a video game that has very simple mechanics, you just have to look at the phone, launch Pokéballs with some aim and tapear at times, but the key mechanics are the collectibles, taking advantage of a universe already known as Pokémon.

An unprecedented revolution

The revolution caused by the launch of this video game has been totally unexpected and unique . It has boosted in just seven days, the shares of Nintendo (main developer of Pokémon) by 93%, which is a historic milestone in the history of video games. As a result of this, Nintendo promised to publish on July 27 the results corresponding to the first fiscal year between the months of April and June, in order to publicize the milestone.


On a social level, the impact of Pokémon Go has been totally surprising, populating the streets around the world of young (and not so young) with their smartphones to capture the Pokémon , causing large concentrations of young people in parks and monuments without causing major disturbances. Without going any further we have the example of the massive concentration of people in Central Park, only for the appearance of a rare Pokémon. We leave here a link for more information about the event occurred.

At this point, it is possible that many people are alarmed by these events, dismissing this phenomenon as madness, however, it is important and interesting to analyze the utilities that this videogame can have as a tool to, for example, treat diseases or mental disorders , given its impact.


Discovering the therapeutic power of Pokémon Go

There are few accidents and curious anecdotes caused by the Pokémon Go phenomenon that have been released during these days. What people do not know so much is that there are already cases of people suffering from a series of mental disorders that, through social networks, are exposing that this video game is helping them to combat their problems, as it shows us John M. Grohol in a post posted on the blog of Psychcentral.

The truth of all this is that Pokémon Go is becoming one of the most powerful tools in the world, capable of making out to walk long kilometers to millions of people; which is much more than what any other fitness application has managed to do. But beyond the cardiovascular applications that this videogame can have, it can also have a strong implication in the treatment of mental disorders like those of anxiety or depressive pictures.

Side effects: the Nintendo video game could combat depression

Depressive disorders, generally according to the DSM-V (2013), are characterized by a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure for a large part of the activities, lack of appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, excessive fatigue, etc.

Thanks to the contribution of many people in social networks, we can see how Pokémon Go, thanks to the revolution that has caused, is getting many people with depression go out to capture Pokémon and exercise , causing the mood of these improve and increase their appetite due to exercise, which causes a regulation of sleep and body activation during long walks that eliminates the "false" fatigue that these people suffer.

Pokémon Go against anxiety and social phobia

In the case of people suffering from anxiety, the benefits are equally astounding. The disorder derived from anxiety, more frequent in the non-adult population, usually appears in the form of social phobia, currently called social anxiety disorder according to the DSM-V (2013).

This disorder is characterized by intense fear or anxiety during the exposure of the individual suffering from it , to social situations in which there is a number of people superior to their innermost circle. This usually leads to flight and avoidance behaviors, leading the individual to confine themselves at home due to the great fear they feel.

Thanks to the strong sense of community that has been generated among Pokémon Go players and the great feeling of inclusion they are experiencing, the prosocial behaviors carried out among them are leading many people with social phobia problems to overcome their fears. The fact of facing their fears with the aim of capturing Pokémon and being doubly rewarded with the rewards of the video game and the great global acceptance among "coaches", is turning the game into a very powerful tool to overcome or mitigate these difficulties .

Some conclusions and reflections

It is still too early to establish causal relationships between Pokémon Go and the psyche of the people since at the moment, this video game brings a still limited experience. But nevertheless, the initial impact, as we can see, has been historic and has managed to create a movement that escapes what has been established so far in the community gamer , moving the game context of the room or the dining room, to the streets of the city and producing, in a very short time, experiences of overcoming people with mental disorders of depressive or anxious type.

Since the path of Pokémon Go has only just begun, its possibilities are still unknown. However, we know that with proper use, this video game could become a turning point in the use of these as therapeutic tools to treat mental disorders. Without a doubt, the research carried out through this movement will be very productive and interesting for the whole community of psychologists.


Pokemon Go and My Depression (May 2021).


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