August 24th, 2010
05:09 PM ET

Video game addiction helped with antidepressant

Video games fans around the world have been spending countless hours playing StarCraft II, the highly anticipated sequel to the original Starcraft from 1998. Both of these games are from Blizzard Entertainment.

But there can be too much of a good thing. Some people can develop real addictions to video games, and need help to regain their normalcy in the real world.

Researchers at Chung Ang University in South Korea, Eulji University College of Medicine in South Korea, and the University of Utah looked at how medication might help video game addiction. In the study, they wrote:

Although there is debate regarding the definition of Internet addiction within the field of addictive disorders, it has been suggested to be an inability of individuals to control their Internet use, resulting in marked distress and functional impairment of general life such as academic performance, social interaction, occupational interest, developmental stage, and behavioral problems.

They looked at 11 people who had an internet video game addiction to the original StarCraft, playing it more than four hours per day, as well as eight people who were not addicted, and played for less than one hour per day, less than 3 days per week. The addicts showed different brain patterns when playing the game than the other participants.

Researchers found that symptoms of addiction decreased after six weeks of taking bupropion SR, an antidepressant marketed in the United States as Wellbutrin. This drug has been shown in the past to help addicts quit smoking, pathological gambling, and cocaine. Participants' craving for playing internet video games and their total time of  play went down, as did certain brain activity associated with playing the game. School attendance and daily routine also improved.

"We suggest that bupropion SR may change craving and brain activity in ways that are similar to those observed in individuals with substance abuse or dependence," the authors wrote.

Of course, there are limitations. The sample size was very small, and six weeks may not have been long enough to fully explore the effects of the treatment, the study authors wrote.

Moreover, participants in this study were playing the original Starcraft, not the game fans had waited 11 years to play, points out the Neuroskeptic blog that spotted this study.

"Sadly, the point is moot, because Starcraft II has just come out, and it's more addictive than ever," Neuroskeptic writes.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Zap Rowsdower

    Soooooooo, another made up illness that requires a drug eh? How about this: Get rid of the COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • every1poos

      says the man who read an internet article about an illness he doesn't believe in and felt the need to comment on it.

      August 24, 2010 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
    • Bob W

      I thought the same about overweight people - just don't eat!!!!! - and alcoholics - just don't drink!!!!!!! - and then in my 30's I became an alcoholic! It becomes a primal urge, same as urges for sex or sleep. If you don't give in, that's all you think about and you get anxious and can't think of anything else. How about "just don't think about sex!!!!!" or "just don't close your eyes!!!!!" It's really the same.

      August 24, 2010 at 19:23 | Report abuse |
    • Troy McGregor

      Zap Rowsdower! Haha the Final Sacrifice was hilarious on MST3K!

      August 24, 2010 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • ROFLChrist

      7|-|3r3 |5 |\|0 5|_|(|-| 7|-|||\|9 45 \/||)30 94|\/|3 4|)|)|(7|0|\|!!!! 0|\|1`/ |\|00|35

      August 25, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  2. steve

    eh, if it wasnt video games people with addictive personalities would just find something else.

    August 24, 2010 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob W

      Absolutely - it's about avoidance of "reality," however it can be achieved.

      August 24, 2010 at 19:18 | Report abuse |
    • Corey

      Exactly. If you have an addictive personality you'll just sublimate your urges into something else.

      August 25, 2010 at 09:01 | Report abuse |
  3. Justin

    Addiction isn't something that is made up. People fix an addiction with anything that will stimulate the brain in a way to compensate for a stimulating effect it likes. It doesn't necessarily come back to drugs. It is a mental disorder, just like OCD, Anxiety disorders, etc. There is certain things, like prescribing an anti depressant to help counter act the situation. There are alternatives, like not using the computer, or restricting time with it. Therapy and other options may help too.

    August 24, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Captain Obvious

    So all I have to do is claim I'm addicted to video games and I get pharmies? SWEET!!! I'm gonna mix them with beer and play tons of video games!

    August 24, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kitten

      wellbutrin isn't a drug used for recreation; it's not going to give you a high, even if you mix it with alcohol or others. It takes several days to have an effect in your system.

      August 25, 2010 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • querida

      you aren't living in your body, you are living in the world of ideas-disconnected from what people actually feel and go through when there is suffering, but your comments don't surprise me in the least.

      August 25, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
  5. rh

    Simple answer, help them cheat to beat the game and it won't be any fun.

    August 24, 2010 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. wowgamer

    Starcraft? How about "World of Warcraft"? 4 hrs a day playing is NOTHING.

    August 25, 2010 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mattski

      From the looks of the first paragraph, it appears they meant to mention Wow and then left it out.

      "Video games fans around the world have been spending countless hours playing StarCraft II, the highly anticipated sequel to the original Starcraft from 1998. Both of these games are from Blizzard Entertainment."

      Both WHAT games?

      August 25, 2010 at 08:07 | Report abuse |
    • Moober

      @Mattski: "Video games fans around the world have been spending countless hours playing StarCraft II, the highly anticipated sequel to the original Starcraft from 1998. Both of these games are from Blizzard Entertainment."

      Both WHAT games?

      Uh, Starcraft and Starcraft II?

      August 25, 2010 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Mattski, I think they mean both Starcraft and Starcraft II. I thought they same thing, that they meant to mention WoW; but upon re-reading I think they were referring to both original and sequel.

      August 25, 2010 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
  7. A-Town Romeo

    Have you ever been to Korea? Outside of Seoul the place is still a dump – it's no wonder the Koreans are hooked on internet video gaming....

    August 25, 2010 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Wet Wolf

    If folks spent 1/10 the time exercising that they spent in front of a video game the obesity issue wouldn't be as big as it is.


    August 25, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lunchbox

      shut up.

      August 25, 2010 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
  9. doesn't care

    i like my video games and i will continue to play them as such. its better than out killing people

    August 25, 2010 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ethan

    Calling it an addiction is a good start, but they need to upgrade playing video games to a disease before I can apply for disability. Any day now.

    August 25, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Corey

    I enjoy video games as an interactive, alternate form of entertainment to television. Most people would not think twice about spending 4 hours a day in front of the tube, but will condemn someone for playing video games for 4 hours. The difference is that I can put down the video games for as long a I need to in order to function like a healthy human being. I also work a full time job, workout 6 days a week for up to an hour, and spend time with my wife. Incidentally I'm not sure I actually play 4 hours every day, but there are definitely days I do.

    August 25, 2010 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      I've got the exact same lifestyle (exercise, job) but without the wife. It's just like cigarettes: it just makes you feel good playing them. The same way sex makes you feel good. Only except video games can (and usually are nowadays) massive timesinks. I will get frustrated realizing I could of done something more productive in the few hours I played SC2.

      August 25, 2010 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
  12. Pwrlessgirl

    I have played FFXI since 2005 on two accounts and find it as a form of entertainment. I don't have cable TV and really hate commercials into CABLE TV, so i opt out of it and stay on VIDEO GAME. They can call it an addiction or whatever, Heck if you walk your dog everyday for more than 4 hours, would that be an addiction?... well YES. Anything, even staring at women or men whole day, or working all day, or studying all day, or walking all day.. is and addiction.
    Pwrlessgirl / Pwrless
    FFXI – Sylph server
    All jobs 75-80, Sch 65, Pup74
    All crafts 60-100

    August 25, 2010 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • alicia

      Pwrlessgirl, If you have all jobs at 75 and all crafts at a minimum of 60, then you are addicted! LOL I kid! I liked FFXI too and am eagerly awaiting September 22.

      Gamers get a bad rap. Like another poster said, someone can watch TV for fours hours a day and it's considered normal. But they look at gamers like we have an issue. They don't realize what an accomplish having all jobs maxed and all crafts maxed in FFXI is. That takes a lot of time and effort!

      If it doesn't negatively affect your job, school and family, then it's not a problem.

      August 25, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse |
  13. rob

    Why, and who in their right mind would want to take a drug that will basically ruin their ability to enjoy their greatest hobby? These drugs and the people that prescribe them are stupid. Ruining the effect of things people like to do doesn't "fix" whatever problem makes them want to use this hobby as an escape in the first place. Hence, they're even more miserable.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Alex

    I think it is real. I have a couple of friends who poured thousands of hours into World of Warcraft. I don't pity them, but I understand that certain people are particularly susceptible to addiction of any kind. I had my own problem with video games a few years ago, when Neverwinter Nights and Oblivion ate up many many hours of my time and caused me to be very late in graduating with my Master's degree. Getting a full-time job really cured that addiction!

    August 25, 2010 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. fags

    yall are all lame really you call all the gamers in the world addicted to games no not even close to the scientist that come up with this stupid retarded stuff we dont want you messin with us we dont screw around in your lives and say your addicted to science and i have to go to school 5 days out of the week are you gonna call that an addiction hell we all slepp you gonna call that an addiction to hell no yall are stupid

    August 26, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Johnathon Alston


    just found your site and wanted to ask for some advice on marketing

    hopefully this is just what im looking for, looks like i have a lot to read Im trying to find a way to build an e-mail list.

    September 4, 2010 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Josh

    I would rather have a kid addicted to Video Gaming than addicted to drugs and alcohol. What difference does playing Starcraft for four hours have over watching TV for four hours, or sitting in a boat fishing for four hours? I think gaming is an excellent way to pass time, and if that's what someone wants to do then let them. There's nothing wrong with it and I don't think of it in terms of an addiction. I think it's just a hobby for certain people, much like others seem to want to go out and get drunk and party... I myself would rather play a nice round of Call of Duty.

    December 27, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Neuroscientia

    This seems like a constructive addiction to me. Yeas of course, I second Josh's answer.

    January 13, 2018 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply

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