Post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, is a disorder that affects people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event of any kind. PTSD does not allow your brain to process information properly which can result in constant fear and stress of a danger that does not exist. It is perceived that PTSD usually only occurs in people who have experienced acts of war or terrorist attacks, however, this is not the case. Around 3.5 percent of the U.S. suffers from PTSD and about one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Sadness, anger, and fear are all common feelings for someone who deals with PTSD to experience. Thankfully, there are treatments available for people who suffer from PTSD.
Trauma is one of the main symptoms of PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD can have recurring memories and flashbacks of the traumatic incident that originally happened. This can be triggered by smell, sound, sight, and any ongoing thoughts. However, studies have shown that certain video games can help with the trauma. A group of researchers from Sweden and the United Kingdom published a study that explains how Tetris helps block the creation of memories after an automobile accident. This prevents the creation of trauma, which can help prevent symptoms of PTSD.
Tetris is not the only game that has helped against this mental health issue. The United States Army has also used virtual reality as a way to help veterans cope with PTSD. The Army and The University of Southern California teamed up to create a virtual game in which army veterans revisit similar events that had originally traumatized them. The purpose of this is to alter these events and guide the veteran at a pace they can handle. One of the results of a study showed that 16 out of 20 veterans who completed this treatment no longer showed signs for PTSD. Although virtual reality was not the sole purpose for the improvement of the veterans, it was an important piece in the therapeutic process.
Video games are constantly proving to be helpful and useful. In these cases, they were shown to help prevent traumatic memories which can lead to PTSD and also help veterans who already have PTSD, cope with their experiences. Whether it be a 35-year-old game or a new concept, video games are proving to not only be fun but also very helpful in the development of mental health treatments.