Pokemon Go not recommended to treat depression – Expert

In response to an earlier report, Dr Ng Yin Ping, our Senior Lecturer at the Depart of Psychiatry, Penang Medical College and PMC Alumna provided expert opinion to ensure facts in mental health were being reported. 
Pokemon Go not recommended to treat depression - Expert

A woman points her smart phone at the Brandenburg Gate as she plays the Pokemon Go mobile game in Berlin on July 13, 2016. – AFP photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Since its release in July this year, Pokemon Go has certainly courted its share of controversies, with some groups raving about its benefits and others raising concerns over its safety or condemning it for the nuisance it has caused.

In terms of psychological disorders, Malaysian Psychiatric Association Assistant Secretary for Early Career Psychiatrist Chapter, Dr Ng Yin Ping said currently, Pokemon Go could not be recommended as a substitute or form of treatment.”For depression, research has shown that exercise is beneficial in improving mood and general well-being…however, it can be challenging to motivate someone who is suffering from depression, to exercise.

“One needs to be reminded that Pokemon Go does not explicitly improve moods and cannot be a substitute for the correct treatment for depression which include psychotherapy and medications,” she said in a statement to Bernama recently.

She added that not everyone suffering from depression had encountered similar positive experience.

“Some have found that it worsened their depression when they could not afford to purchase the accessories, or lived too far away to locate any virtual creatures,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Ng explained that individuals suffering from social anxiety could experience intense fear of certain social situations and perceive they might be watched or judged by others, and as such, result in more anxiety and avoidance of those situations.

“The treatment of choice in social anxiety disorder is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps the individual identify, analyse and challenge the negative thoughts that underlie their fear of social situations.

“While Pokemon Go may be helpful to these individuals in terms of providing a purpose and structure that distracts the individual from the anxiety that they would normally feel, it does not treat the underlying cause,” she said.

Pokemon Go, developed by Niantic Incorporation of Nintendo USA has set a new wave of augmented reality game in the history of smartphone applications.

Pokemon Go is a conventional ‘hide and seek’ game where players are required to find and fight virtual characters based on real-world location detected via smartphone.

The free mobile game application was officially released on July 6 this year in Australia, New Zealand and the United States and has since reached over 30 countries.

No specific release date has been planned for Malaysia, but the hugely popular mobile application game may be made available here for Android and iOS users next month.

Tags: Pokemon Gopsychological disordersdepressionDr Ng Yin Pingsubstitute treatment

 This story first appeared in Astro Awani
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