Playing scientific mobile gaming app for 25 minutes could help lower anxiety, says study.
According to a research published in Clinical Psychological Science, 'gamifying' a scientifically-supported intervention could offer measurable mental health and behavioral benefits for people with relatively high levels of anxiety.
The game is based on an emerging cognitive treatment for anxiety called attention-bias modification training (ABMT) and involves training patients to ignore a threatening stimulus (such as an angry face) and to focus instead on a non-threatening stimulus (such as a neutral or happy face).
Conducted on about 75 'high on anxiety' participants, the study required them to follow two characters around on the screen, tracing their paths as quickly and accurately as possible.
It was found that participants who played the ABMT-based version of the game showed less nervous behavior and speech during their talk and reported less negative feelings afterward than those in the placebo group.
Lead researcher from Hunter College, Tracy Dennis, explained that millions of people suffering from psychological distress fail to seek or receive mental health services, as they tend to be expensive, difficult to access or perceived as stigmatizing.
Dennis said that it is crucial for psychological researchers to develop alternative treatment delivery systems that are more affordable, accessible, and engaging.
The researchers believe that apps could eventually be developed to assist in the treatment for other mental health disorders, such as depression or addiction.