Pokémon Go is a new mobile game app that has taken the country by storm. Everywhere you turn, it seems that someone is getting into Pokemon Go.
It uses a person’s smartphone camera and GPS to place Pokémon characters in the real world in proximity to the player. In order to earn points, these characters need to be “caught” by the player. Players can see the characters in their real world surroundings by looking at their screen, and use the game to capture the Pokémon character.
The game has had a big effect on the community, and organizations have issued several warnings to keep players safe.
Although not even out for a full week, many players have already taken to Twitter and other social media to share how Pokémon Go has helped their mental health, mood, social anxiety, and depression.
Pokémon Go does this by encouraging people to get outside, take a walk, talk to others, and explore the world around them. Granted, it’s through their smartphone acting as an interface, but walking is walking, even if the motivation for doing so is to play a game. For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do. For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others who may want to talk to you is daunting.
While the game has caused some negative things to happen to players, mental health experts say it is also having a surprising effect.
Mental health experts say it is well documented that exercise helps with depression and mood disorders. However, many depressed patients do not have the drive to exercise.
“For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do. For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others who may want to talk to you is daunting,” John M. Grohol, Psy. D., wrote for Psych Central.
Pokemon Go is encouraging people who would not otherwise go outside to take a walk and learn a little more about their surroundings.
Experts say the game is fun and players feel rewarded when they capture a Pokemon, meaning that it is providing behavioral activation for players.
The game is also structured and provides immediate feedback, which can be crucial for those suffering from depression. Since the app is so popular, it can also be an easy conversation starter for people with social anxiety.