Pokémon GO cures depression. At least it might have. A recent study has shown a link between the popular AR mobile game and internet searches relating to depression-related topics.
Alright, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. But there was something there. According to a study by the London School of Economics, first caught by TheGamer, internet searches for depression-related terms like “stress”, “anxiety”, and of course, “depression” saw a noticeable drop in frequency around the time that Pokémon GO first released.
To reinforce that this wasn’t a correlation-without-causation, the researchers specifically compared searches to the locations at the time of that region’s release of the game. When Pokémon GO first released, it was staggered over the world, allowing them to find multiple instances of this phenomenon.
Granted, this effect was not permanent. In fact, it was relatively short term overall, but there was still something there.
The study makes 2 important clarifiers regarding this discovery. The first is that their findings only related to mild, non-clinical forms of depression and not for chronic or severe depressive disorders. The second is that it’s not necessarily Pokémon GO that produced this effect, but the general aspects that a mobile AR game promotes: outdoor activity, in-person socialization, exposure to nature.
While not revolutionary, this does open the doors to the idea of alternative methods of treatment for mild depressive qualities. It’s established that socializing and light exercise can alleviate these symptoms. But Pokémon GO introduces a new format to present and encourage these same methods.
Maybe this is why everyone remembers the launch of Pokémon GO as such a pleasant memory.