In a world that is too busy to find time for long therapy sessions , a smartphone game that works to significantly reduce the anxiety levels in individuals prone to stressful situations can possibly be the best treatment strategy. According to a journal report by the Association for Psychological Science, mobile gaming applications can considerably reduce anxiety levels in a stressed individual within twenty five minutes of playing it. This game can be hooked up with stress measuring devices so that an individual can be pinged to play the game if a rise in stress levels is indicated by the device.
Psychologist Tracy Dennis teamed up with some app developers to come up with Personal Zen, a game that is designed to clinically reduce the anxiety levels in the players. According to Dennis the modern psychotherapy sessions are often found to be time –consuming affairs which are expensive and unaffordable with additional stigma attached to seeking such treatments.
The study published in the Clinical Psychological Science corroborated the findings of the researchers who tested the game’s effectiveness in 25 and 45- minute sessions. The game involved tracing the trail left by happy and angry faced sprites to earn points by clicking on the trail left by happy faced sprites that popped out of the grass.The participants were then made to give speeches or count backwards from 1007, subtracting 11 every time they did that.
Comparisons between Personal Zen players and a control group that played a placebo game revealed reduced stress levels in personal zen players.
The team is currently working to extend the scope of the app by testing it to measure the brain activity in individuals. The effects of this game are also being observed in pregnant women with mild anxiety issues. This will give the researchers an insight into the effects of stress on the development of fetus during a pregnancy.
How the Game Works
Personal Zen is a computerized therapeutic approach that is more engaging and enjoyable when compared to the traditional therapies. Attention-bias modification training has emerged as an innovative treatment for anxiety issues as it incorporates focusing on the brighter and the untroubled aspects around through imagery that depicts the same. The undesirable and gloomy aspects in the immediate environment are ignored to help reduce the anxious feelings. Personal Zen incorporates a cognitive therapy that helps a person retrain his brain to pay attention by focusing on the positive.
Gamifying psychological interventions are a revolutionary step in the treatment of mental disorders and a step up from the light in which they are often viewed. This engaging strategy can be used synchronously with traditional therapies for various mental disorders. It can be an effectively promoted in the market as a personal tool for mental wellness. The brief format of these games and their potency even in short 25 minute dosages makes smartphone gaming apps convenient for people on the go. The risk of being undertreated cannot be ruled out if individuals with significant anxiety issues try to treat an anxiety disorder without getting professional help first.