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When the COVID-19 Panemic struck this year, a lot of people had to make changes to their lives. For some the changes were either minor, or short term. Many "essential workers" continued to work through the pandemic when others were quarantined during the initial "stay at home orders". Others haven't been able to return to work in 7 months.

Over the last few months, there have been multiple changes to where people can go, where they can't go, how many can be in one spot, what they can do when they are allowed somewhere. These changes have added to the existing anxiety over the fact that there's a pandemic going on.

The health implications, and economic destruction, have combined for an outbreak of depression that now towers over the COVID pandemic.

As fast as researchers are trying to find a cure for COVID, they're working to find ways to relive the depression that has set in like a blanket across the United States (and actually the world as a whole).

Last week, Psychology Today published an article from researchers saying that simply playing a cell-phone-based video game can help combat COVID depression. Actually, the research addressed here says that the game helps anytime, but anecdotal evidence helps illustrate how this research can be applied to the COVID pandemic.

That game, Pokemon Go.

The augmented reality game has been showed in research to improve the mood, and memory, of those who play the game. According to researchers Tracy Packiam Alloway, PhD and Rachel Carpenter, PhD candidate, Pokemon Go players showed improved mood after playing the game, and that can be a huge benefit to people struggling with anxiety and depression. Now those same researchers are applying that concept to the COVID pandemic induced depression.

In the research, it was noted that Pokemon Go gameplay actually increased when the pandemic began. Which could be due to the benefits described in the research. Here's a bit from the Psychology Today piece:

"There are many common benefits of the game's standard play, including being outside, inducing light exercise, and enhancing social ties, but new scientific research shows that it also may improve mood and cognitive ability. A recent study indicated that those with a negative mood prior to playing Pokémon Go felt significantly better after game play (Alloway & Carpenter, 2020). So, if you are looking for a quick and healthy pick-me-up, Pokémon Go may be a good start, especially now that everyone can experience its mood-enhancing benefits."

However, just as the research about he benefits gets off the ground, the game's creators are taking away some of the COVID changes they made. The game had made adjustments to make it easier to play while social distancing, but those are now going away. Which probably isn't great news for those who have been leaning on the game the last few months.


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