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A Mobile Game Might Help Reduce Anxiety Levels

March 20, 2014 - Written By Christina Cooper

For the past few years, technology has been venturing towards the medical side more and more. We’ve seen more fitness bands, heart rate monitors and pedometers to keep you healthy. What we haven’t seen a whole lot of is applications to help people with anxiety. That may be about to change, though. It appears as though studies are currently going on that will test if certain applications can help people that are prone to anxiety.

The application that is currently being tested is actually a mobile game. The game uses the practice known as attention-bias modification training, or ABMT, for short. This practice allows the person who is suffering anxiety to retrain their brain to see something positive in their environment, rather than something negative. The main reason for this particular training is that people with anxiety tend to notice the negative things in their environment, like upset or angry people. ABMT trains people who suffer for anxiety to change the way they go about seeing and reacting to these social cues.

The idea to use a game to reduce anxiety comes from researchers at Hunter College and the City University of New York. The colleges had 75 people play the game and then give speeches afterwards. For those who played the game for 25-45 minutes, it was proven that the anxiety level among those who played this specific game was lower than those who played a different “placebo” game. What’s so special about this game? Well, the object of the game is to follow two characters’ paths and trace them quickly and accurately. This game is based on ABMT practices, so it is designed to help retrain the mind. Something interesting to note is that the 45 minute game seems to work better than the 25 minute version when it comes to anxiety levels being lowered.

There isn’t a whole lot of information on when the game might be made available, but it’s nice to know that this kind of thing is being worked on. Many people, including me, deal with social anxiety on a regular basis, so I would love to get my hands on this game and see how it helps calm me down. In the growing world of technology, it’s a wonder why we haven’t seen more applications and games dedicated to helping people with anxiety. The cool thing about this study is that it uses a game that you can put on a smartphone. Most people have their phones on them at all times, so something like this could really help if anxiety levels were to rise during an outing or on a busy day.