Advice regarding video game addiction

RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
Hello,

I have been playing video games since I was about 6, on and off. Over the years, I have gotten into some pretty hardcore games that I played for over 12 hours a day.

I took a long break from games, didn't really have a computer or system to play them on. I have been going through some depression and one of my symptoms is a lack of interest in things I once enjoyed. So I said, hey, let me get a used computer from my friend. Took me trying a few games, but I finally found a few that could keep my interest.

Well, I got addicted to them. I wasn't playing them nearly as much as I did in the past (maybe 2-4 hours per day.) I was trying to limit myself so that it didn't take over my life.

However, even playing this much started to get to me. Gaming started leading to little depressions that would hit after I stopped a gaming session. For example, I would get intensely into a game for an hour and a half and then walk around the block. On my walk I just felt this overwhelming depression: dull, anxious, worried, guilty, dampened. Definitely feels like something is going on with my brain chemistry. It's hard to describe, but it lasts for a little while and I am unsure if it has long term consequences.

The second negative effect the gaming would have on me is that I would think and obsess about the game when I wasn't playing it. This might happen when I'm driving, walking, trying to get to sleep, or talking to someone. It stresses me out.

Lastly is sleep. A lack thereof. I started waking up early because I was thinking about playing the game. At first, this was a warm welcome, as I have been sleeping for 12 hours for months. So I was like, hey, here is a positive aspect of my gaming. But when I realized I am waking up after 5 hours of sleep stressing out, that's not good. I need more sleep than that.

So I took the day off yesterday from playing games, to think about it, and get some advice. Found these forums, and hope I can get some advice here.

It would probably be in my best interest to stop, but it's hard to let go, as I have been gaming for so long and I get so much enjoyment out of it. I just wish I didn't have to deal with these negative effects. I see other people playing games and they are fine. I am also a recovering alcoholic, and it reminds me of a line from the book: "It is the great obsession of every alcoholic to be able to one day drink like a normal drinker." Maybe that pertains to me and video games. Me wanting to play games like other people and live a normal life without the negative consequences of the addiction, maybe that is just a dream I have that will never come true. Maybe it is time to let go of my dear old friend.

Any advice appreciated,

Thanks,

Ryan

Posts

  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    It seems to me that your relationship with video games is unhealthy if its affecting you that negatively and that its also a symptom of larger problems with depression and addiction in general

    I think you need to talk to a therapist and get more in depth help than this forum is going to realistically be able to provide

    Wassermelone on
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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    It seems to me that your relationship with video games is unhealthy if its affecting you that negatively and that its also a symptom of larger problems with depression and addiction in general

    I think you need to talk to a therapist and get more in depth help than this forum is going to realistically be able to provide

    No worries, I have a therapist and a psych doctor and we talk in depth about this stuff. Just looking for advice from everyday people.

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    This may be the wrong forum to talk to everyday people about video games. I'm just going to put that out there. While the forum population is pretty diverse, it definitely skews toward gamers and enthusiasts.

    As far as practical advice, have you tried playing board games or roleplaying games instead? They give some of the same intricacies and puzzles that your brain craves, but it might help wean you off video games while also forcing you to interact with other people. It might be a bit of "nicotine gum" for a tobacco addiction, but it could help.

    What you are describing is very common for depression, especially with a history of substance abuse. Know that you aren't alone, and that many people struggle with this.

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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Hahnsoo1 wrote: »
    What you are describing is very common for depression, especially with a history of substance abuse. Know that you aren't alone, and that many people struggle with this.

    Yes it may be related to the depression I am going through right now.

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  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    @RyanT - What sort of games are you playing? I have anxiety and I've noticed there are certain genres that 'activate' it more frequently than others. I won't to play MOBAs, for example, because they almost instantaneously transport me mentally to a pretty shitty place. And there are genres of games that are specifically made to be addictive via including shades of skinner box or gambling in their design. Generally these are loot style games like MMOs or gatcha games on smart phones
    noPower wrote: »
    Try to play rigorous VR games instead.

    When you play an intense roomscale VR game your body releases more endorphins making you feel better, or even like a badass. Eventually your depression goes away. Maybe play Holopoint for like 2 hours a day, or as much as your addiction allows. Inevitably your body will force you to take a break and that's how you can also start to get over your video game addiction.

    This sounds like a new age-y rub crystals on yourself take on VR and seems like terrible advice. 'Eventually your depression goes away' ???

    Wassermelone on
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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    @RyanT - What sort of games are you playing? I have anxiety and I've noticed there are certain genres that 'activate' it more frequently than others. I won't to play MOBAs, for example, because they almost instantaneously transport me mentally to a pretty shitty place. And there are genres of games that are specifically made to be addictive via including shades of skinner box or gambling in their design. Generally these are loot style games like MMOs or gatcha games on smart phones

    I dabbled in a couple old MMORPGS I have enjoyed in the past, and was able to get interested. But they were way too much for me to handle.

    I settled on Skyrim, for 2-3 hours a day. I don't obsess on it as much as the MMORPGs, but I still get that depression after I play.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    Why not pick up a sport instead? I was once in a Counterstrike clan, which I traded for a World of Warcraft guild, which I finally traded for sports, something I did before gaming, but had completely neglected during my clan/guild time.

    You'll still be obsessed, but being obsessed about sports leads to healthy exercise, and it gets you out there interacting with people face to face. Even solo sports like running, biking, or kayaking have lots of meet up groups associated with them, to push you along.

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  • LailLail Surrey, B.C.Registered User regular
    It doesn't sound like videogames are causing your depression, it sounds like you have depression and the videogames are an escape for you. You can escape into these worlds and focus on things that aren't real instead of whatever is normally going on in your mind. Then, when you turn off the game you are confronted with reality again.

    I was addicted to WoW for a couple years (10+ hours a day). When I decided enough was enough I started working out and exercising. Good chemicals are released in your body when you exercise. It can be somewhat addictive too. Maybe try playing sports, lifting weights, going for run/walks, whatever. I know exercising isn't the end-all, be-all answer, but its amazing how many benefits it can lead to in life.

    You said you have a therapist so I assume you are taking whatever medication is prescribed to you too.

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  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    I have chronic anxiety issues and mild depression. I exhibit addictive behavior toward screen activities in general, and mobile screens in particular. When I'm going through a rough patch with depression, the addictive behavior gets worse, and vice versa; so it's easy to get into a tailspin where I'm staying up until 3 am every night doing nothing in particular on the internet. Obviously this is a problem.

    I have regular therapy sessions and I take medication for my brain issues. Both of those things are essential. Here's what I've done on top of that to manage symptoms:
    • I set up parental controls on my computer to limit how late I can be online. Obviously I can get around them if I want, but having to actively cheat makes me much less likely to do it.
    • Exercise does help. I don't like exercising, but I like how I feel afterward; so I've learned to look at it as a means to an end.
    • Accomplishing things helps. It doesn't need to be something huge. If I'm deep in a funk, I feel much better after taking out the trash or loading the dishwasher. (This is part of the reason games are so enticing; but my subconscious knows the difference between in-game accomplishments and real-world ones.)
    • Find a hobby that involves making something. Mine is knitting. (The nice thing about knitting in particular is that it can be as challenging as you want, so I have projects I can do when I want to work on something, and mindless knitting I can do when I have no motivation for anything.)
    • Learn to be aware of your background thoughts. Depression doesn't need a reason; but if there is something in particular that's bothering you, you can identify it and hopefully take steps to resolve it.
    • Don't punish yourself when you fail (whatever "failure" means to you in your current situation). Note the failure, identify contributing factors, and figure out how to avoid them in the future; then move forward.
    • Don't be afraid to give yourself what you need to succeed. I struggle with getting enough sleep, and being tired all the time makes everything harder; so last weekend I gave myself permission to sleep as much as I wanted in order to catch up. It didn't fix my tendency to stay up too late, but it gave me a fresh start to try again.
    • If you don't have one, consider getting a pet or even just a houseplant. Having living things around helps pull me out of my own head and keep me grounded; plus plants help purify and oxygenate the air. Here's a list of particularly good ones.

    Obviously ignore any of this that doesn't sound helpful. My situation is different from yours :)

    Calica on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Don't get therapy advice about video game addition and/or depression from unaccredited strangers on a video game forum.

    Talk with your therapist.

  • TubeTube Administrator, ClubPA admin
    Please don't tell people not to ask for advice. You are not a moderator, it's not your place to say. He already has a therapist, he wants the opinion of regular people and is well within his rights to seek it.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    I will echo the board game/card game sentiment, when I've forced myself to go play board games with people I get the same mental hole filled that video games provide but it leads to getting out and doing things like movies and talking with people that's really positive

    Also there's a very good chance some of the people you play with will have had or still have the same problems you have, I would wager your therapist would be onboard with this idea too

  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Thanks guys. @Calica some very good advice. @Lail you hit some good points. I am bipolar (medicated) and have been experiencing some depressive symptoms. That is maybe why the games are hitting me harder. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I was feeling really good, but not too good (hypomania), I was able to game as much as I want while owning life and not having all these symptoms. I just want to get to a stable state and see if I can enjoy. I really want to be able to play, I don't want to give it up, but I feel I am at a crossroads.

    I didn't realize this was a gaming forum, I just google searched for advice forums...but I honestly don't care as there have been many helpful people here, thanks @Tube.

    mysticjuicer
  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    @RyanT - What sort of games are you playing? I have anxiety and I've noticed there are certain genres that 'activate' it more frequently than others. I won't to play MOBAs, for example, because they almost instantaneously transport me mentally to a pretty shitty place. And there are genres of games that are specifically made to be addictive via including shades of skinner box or gambling in their design. Generally these are loot style games like MMOs or gatcha games on smart phones
    noPower wrote: »
    Try to play rigorous VR games instead.

    When you play an intense roomscale VR game your body releases more endorphins making you feel better, or even like a badass. Eventually your depression goes away. Maybe play Holopoint for like 2 hours a day, or as much as your addiction allows. Inevitably your body will force you to take a break and that's how you can also start to get over your video game addiction.

    This sounds like a new age-y rub crystals on yourself take on VR and seems like terrible advice. 'Eventually your depression goes away' ???

    I don't think anyone is saying that VR has magical healing properties but rather that physical activity is a proven, effective counter to depression in many cases. Cardio is boring though and if you can find a way to gamify exercise that sounds like a win-win. I have a hard time wanting to do straight cardio for more than twenty minutes, but I could play Dance Dance Revolution (I am very old) to the very limits of my physical endurance. Getting a lot of exercise has the added bonus of making it easier to want to go to bed on time and staying asleep for the whole night.

    I'd also recommend looking at your diet and taking a vitamin if you're not already. It's a quick, easy fix that can start having a noticeable effect in only a couple of days. Anything to keep your energy levels up as feeling energetic can help you resist the temptation to give in to your addiction.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    When you get to this level of addiction, the most likely recourse to succeed is abstinence. Cutting down now will probably be more difficult to do.

    Here's an exercise: do a little introspection into why you like to play video games and why it makes you feel happy. For me, it gives me some joy of mastery and control, and it allows me to play out experiences I believe I will never see in life.

    I believe when you get sad while taking walks, you are actually doing this, but you don't get anywhere since it'seems too painful and makes you just want to game the pain away. If you write it down, you'll actually be able to complete a thought and reach some conclusions and things you should do instead of continually revving your guilt meter.

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  • Romantic UndeadRomantic Undead Registered User regular
    This has been touched on already a bit, but I wished to throw my hat in the ring here as well.

    As a teenager and into my twenties, I was severely addicted to games, to the point that they dominated all of my thoughts. Eventually, I fell into a deep depression when I lost my first full time job (partly because of games). My doctor prescribed some medication to deal with chemical aspect of the depression, but, as you yourself have noticed, this also seemed to sap my enjoyment of the things I used to love (i.e. games).

    What I found helped me get through this period is relying on my reasoning skills. After I became aware that depression is a chemical imbalance that was not simply due to unreasonable emotions, I became aware that I could recognize when I was experiencing a bad moment and manage it accordingly. Practically, what that meant was that, when I felt a bad moment coming on, I would endeavor to work through it, typically by setting some small goal.

    For example:

    "Ok RomUnd, not feeling so hot right now, time to get off the couch and get something done. Let's try doing the dishes/laundry, going out for a walk/applying for that job".

    By working on actively recognizing when your brain is being a butt, and trying to force yourself to be "productive", I feel that I was able to overcome the feeling of malaise and replace it with a feeling of accomplishment.

    Eventually, I learned to stop depending on and obsessing about games as a substitution for dealing with my depressive thoughts, and have since developed a healthy relationship with them. I still love games, but I also recognize when it's time to take a break and do something else.

    I hope this helps, in some small way, and take care out there!

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  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    Another thing to keep in mind is that games are just entertainment, but for some reason they still have a stigma that other types don't. If you tell someone you binged a show on Netflix one week, or read 2500 pages worth of books, people aren't really going to think much of it. If you say you played a game all week, though, people tend to start getting judgmental. It's okay to like games. It's okay to look forward to the experience.

    You just need to make sure you're still taking care of yourself in the process, and it sounds like you have most of that under control these days.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Just as a teaching point, my suggestion was more psychoanalytic, and Romantic's was more akin to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is effective in more cases of addiction and anxiety than most other non-pharmacologic therapies.

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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Thanks guys for the input.

    I think these little depressions I feel after playing are definitely chemical. I could be wrong. I have never been very good at identifying my thoughts, so CBT has never been very effective for me, the idea that thoughts lead to feelings. I can't really identify any thoughts when I am walking around the neighborhood with this depressed mood, it just "feels" like I am depressed, feels very chemical.

    I saw my psychiatrist the other day, and I asked to be put on a small dose of antidepressant that worked before. He was ok with it. I was actually going to ask for this before I started gaming again two weeks ago, as I had been experiencing a lot of the symptoms of depression - excessive sleep, loss of interest, loss of motivation, lack of concentration...

    I might have mentioned this already, but I am bipolar. It seems these games affect me when I am in a depressed state. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I am hypomanic (or God forbid, manic), I don't ruminate over the games as much and they don't lend to this dampened mood.

    Anyway, I'm not going to give up on gaming just yet. I know total abstinence might be a good idea, but I just enjoy playing games.

    Someone asked why I enjoy them. Well first of all, they are just fun. I also like developing and progressing a character. It gives me something to do. It lets me live in a fantasy world I will never experience in the real world.

    So, I will try to play Skyrim for a few hours a day and see how it affects me, and see if this anti-depressant helps at all. I quit Facebook (which I was spending A LOT of time on), so I have some free time, and if I don't fill it all with games, maybe I can start squeezing in some productive activities.

    I will keep a close eye on if it affects my job performance.

    I want to be able to play games like other people, have them as a healthy, balanced part of my life.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    If you're actually bipolar, the most appropriate pharmacology is a mood stabilizer.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited August 2016
    Paladin wrote: »
    If you're actually bipolar, the most appropriate pharmacology is a mood stabilizer.

    Well yeah, I didn't say I was only on an antidepressant. Trust me, I have been playing the med game for ten years. :)

    RyanT on
  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Today what got me was obsessing over the game on my drive to work. Thinking about what I want to do, images of the game, things I have done. I don't know why this is so stressful. It is a lot more harmless than other obsessions I have had (yes I have OCD too, I am a basket case.)

    Maybe because it is so distracting from driving. What's interesting though is I usually have anxiety on the way to work. This was replaced by a different kind of anxiety: thinking about the game. It really bothers me for some reason.

    Will explore this with therapist. If I can get a hold on the obsessing, I am one step closer to gaming in a more healthy fashion.

  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    One thing that might help is not viewing that as obsessing. That's anticipation and trying to plan out how you will use your time. You're also on your drive to work which is going to be largely autopilot for you anyway. Your brain is going to gravitate to more interesting thoughts than what the license plates in front of you say.

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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Well, I tried to play for a few days, but it is just having too big of an impact on me.

    Going to see if I can quit for a few days and see if I feel any better/different.

    Still not giving up on this: I love my gaming.

  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    I've applied the Sarah Silverman trick to a lot of my addictions, it will probably work on video games.

    Treat Video games as a reward type thing, where you aren't allowed to touch them unless you've accomplished X things that day already.

    ( She did this with Pot)

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  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    You might love your gaming, but if it's continuing to have this strong of a negative effect on you, you may really need to go cold turkey for awhile. Awhile being a few months. Find other hobbies, go outdoors, find other passions, try new things.

    DisruptedCapitalistGork
  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Yeah I'm still going at it. Trying coping mechanisms, positive self talk. It has its benefits outside the game. I am waking up early, gaming then doing other stuff. Just trying to put it in its place for now. Not ready to give up. If it persists for a while or doesn't get any better, I might meet the desperation to put it down for a while.

  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Well I ended up giving up games a week ago. I had a really bad morning where I got like 4 hours of sleep, only to wake up and game. Gamed for about two hours then felt pretty bad afterwards. That depression I talked about that I get after a gaming session. Then I went back to sleep, woke up, and I was still feeling bad. This on top of the persistent thoughts of the game when I wasn't playing, and I was just done with feeling like that.

    I'm just not at a good spot in my life to game right now I guess. So I gave them up. I still wish I could play and was even tempted to last night, but I just had to keep reminding myself how they make me feel and how it will probably happen again if I play.

    Will I try to play again? Probably. Will I meet the same results or be able to handle it differently? Maybe.

    Thanks for all your advice and support.

  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Good job giving them up.

    I don't know if this is possible for you, but when I joined a martial arts gym my several hours a day gaming habit dropped to almost zero. So if you can, substitute in some exercise. The physical activity made me feel great, but also the encouragement of everyone else at the gym has had a really positive effect mentally. It might not work for everyone but it certainly helped me so I'd recommend giving it a try.

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  • RyanTRyanT New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    Reznik wrote: »
    Good job giving them up.

    I don't know if this is possible for you, but when I joined a martial arts gym my several hours a day gaming habit dropped to almost zero. So if you can, substitute in some exercise. The physical activity made me feel great, but also the encouragement of everyone else at the gym has had a really positive effect mentally. It might not work for everyone but it certainly helped me so I'd recommend giving it a try.

    I would be interested in that, as I have done a little martial arts in the past. I really need to pick up some hobbies or something, because all I do now besides work is chatting with people and being on Facebook. This year, I have given up nicotine, alcohol, and most recently gaming and caffeine, so I am ok with hanging on to Facebook for now, but I could really use getting into some other things.

  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLRegistered User regular
    edited September 2016
    RyanT wrote: »
    Hello,

    I am also a recovering alcoholic, and it reminds me of a line from the book: "It is the great obsession of every alcoholic to be able to one day drink like a normal drinker." Maybe that pertains to me and video games. Me wanting to play games like other people and live a normal life without the negative consequences of the addiction, maybe that is just a dream I have that will never come true. Maybe it is time to let go of my dear old friend.

    Any advice appreciated,

    Thanks,

    Ryan

    You already have everything you need. Use it.

    Clarification: I'm not addicted to video games, but I have dealt with other addictions. In my personal experience, the solution is very similar regardless of the addiction. There are also fellowships that deal exclusively with video game addiction like OLGA (www.olganon.org). Good luck, easy does it, one day at a time, et cetera!

    Most of all, be well.

    Oh yes, one more thing, if you have a sponsor in your other program, this would be an excellent thing to run past him/her. That's all I have for now. Best wishes, and good vibes.

    Phaserlight on
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