Video Games and Links to Mental Health


Video games may be fun but they can contribute, rather than alleviate stress and anxiety.

Recently, a young man in his mid-20’s took a few visits to the hospital, including an overnight stay in the ICU.  He had terrible stomach pains, was experiencing dizziness, and had a form of sleep apnea, which basically meant that his body would intermittently stop breathing in the middle of the night while he was sleeping.  Eventually, the problems were linked to panic attacks and anxiety.  All of his symptoms, however, today are in remission because he stopped playing video games.  Although there was no study done to link video games to his specific systems–and granted it’s a story we’ve learned through a friend of a friend–there are some researched connections between “overdosing” on video games and mental health.

Video games have become more prevalent than ever before in our culture these days.  What was formerly a teenage and underground culture of PC gamers has now exploded with the advent of the mobile gaming.  It seems that everybody has a few games on their devices which help to provide entertainment to pass the time.

Video Game Studies And Mental Health

In 2011, Psychology Today published an article that linked overindulgence in video games with social phobia, depression, and anxiety in young children.  Another study in 2012 showed a direct correlation between the amount time spent on video games and anxiety/ depression.  It’s also possible that those who experience these increased symptoms are also using video games as a coping skill for life-stress and as a means to help relax in their down time.  According to this study conducted by Victoria University, someone who plays 33 hours or more per week has decreased abilities to cope with anger in their lives.

While there’s not a proven, clear-cut connection between video games and mental illness, there does seem to be some correlation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time per day for children.  This should include TV as well as games, Internet, and portable devices.

There’s much more research to be done regarding the direct and indirect connections between excessive video game playing and mental and physical health.  We’re not here to say, “No More!”  but we do want to support everyone, whether they experience mental illness or not, to develop solid, healthy coping skills that build them up and lead them towards improved, lifelong health and happiness.  We have two branches in Baton Rouge and Covington to serve the mental health needs for the good people of Louisiana.