Gaming may be a coping mechanism for depression
Researchers are still trying to find the actual link between video games and depression.
A new Australian study has found that excessive video gamers are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than casual players.
But the researcher believes participants suffering from a mental health disorder are using gaming as a coping mechanism, rather than it being the cause, News.com.au reported.
According to The Global Video Game Play, Health and Well-being Study, hardcore gamers reported 25 per cent more depression and 15 per cent more anxiety than regular gamers.
Conducted by Daniel Loton at Melbourne's Victoria University, the yearlong study is looking at the psychological effects of gaming by comparing gamer's habits and mental health diagnosis history.
Participants have been categorised into two groups - excessive gamer or a balanced gamer - with excessive gamers averaging 33 hours a week.
"We use the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) to measure the depression, asking people several questions about symptoms based on diagnosis," Loton said.
"By asking people for their mental health diagnosis history, I can find the proportion of people that have been diagnosed with a mental illness and whether they have sought treatment," he explained.
However, Loton believes participants suffering from a mental health disorder are using gaming as a coping mechanism, rather than it being the cause.
"The coping mechanism data suggests that people are using video games as a way of distracting themselves from their problems or escaping them," he said.
"So you have to question whether that it is more likely that those mental health symptoms were there before excessive gaming than after.
"This has led me to think that early results suggest it may be a coping mechanism for depression and anxiety," he added.
Loton said early analysis of the data indicates that excessive gamers actually performed better than their more balanced counterparts academically.
"The grade average was slightly higher with excessive gamers and they outperformed their own expectations of grades a lot more than the balanced group," he said.
Excessive gamers also functioned no worse than balanced gamers at work.
Research will continue for nine months, with participants having to complete the survey each month.