Application of Gamification In Anxiety Apps


Jane McGonigal, the developer of SuperBetter, went through various symptoms of severe anxiety, including nausea, memory loss, headaches, vertigo, etc. She spent days and months in bed, fighting with anxiety and depression and ultimately leading to suicidal thoughts. However, she took her anxiety as a challenge and devised ways to get out of it just by developing a game that involves avoiding the “bad guys” and winning the game. This video game-like app helps in combating anxiety symptoms.

The one-third population of America is suffering from this serious disease. With the growing side effects of pharmaceutical products and long psychiatric treatments, people tend to shift towards alternate ways like fidget spinners, applications, etc to fight anxiety. Although the importance of treatments cannot be replaced but can be minimized by these measures. 

With the increase in SuperBetter popularity, the past decade has come up with several other apps like Headspace, MindShift, Calm, Mind Ease, Happify, Personal Zen, and Stop, Breathe & Think, etc. These apps use gamification that turns the app into a game. Still, it's fair to wonder if it could fuel our societal technology addiction by turning anxiety apps into fun games that could worsen our anxiety. Indeed, you might ask if the tech community wants to sell us a partially self-made solution to a problem. The Silicon Valley care economy has for a long time used psychological incentives to hook us up on devices that strengthen our commitment to increasing its profitability.

How does gamification reduce anxiety?

Anxiety is a wide variety of symptoms, from widespread anxiety, social anxiety, and certain phobias. The physical and emotional signs of this may also lead to insomnia. In fact, in annual surveys, young people report an increasing degree of anxiety.

Conditional mental health care is a concern for patients with certain obstacles. Costly and time-consuming therapies are drawbacks nowadays. Medicines also include stigma and side effects and patient caregivers need access to them. In comparison, gamified games make treatments look attractive, compact, stigmatic, prescription-free, and inexpensive, if not completely free. Research shows that gamification typically increases player interaction and inspiration.

For the same purposes, games for mental health use gamification: inspiration and commitment. It may be hard to find inspiration to focus on these problems for those who suffer from anxiety or sometimes co-occurring Depression. Even if you do not enjoy an app, you would also be more involved with the therapies that are evidence-based. These therapies help the app work.

The platform SuperBetter points out the trial results, which were completed at Pennsylvania University and reported in 2015. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center clinical trial also lists applications designed as games, the person becoming a hero in the process of winning, helps youth with unsolved symptoms of discomfort. McGonigal is a co-author of the 2017 report.

Drawbacks associated with these apps

These gamification apps like Stop, Breathe & Think or SuperBetter make the user addicted to them. Gamification keeps coming back but may really begin to become addictive while cutting friendship or sleep. Many gamified anxiety applications include psychologist testing. But psychiatrists, game creators, and entrepreneurs also collaborate. So while we collect scientific proof that these apps work to reduce anxiety, we will do better to objectively consider how to use them.

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