Teens who experience symptoms of depression, especially when combined with conduct disorders, are more likely to engage in the choking game, according to a study in the February 2019 issue of Pediatrics. The choking game is an activity that involves strangulation to temporarily limit blood flow and oxygen to the brain, often producing a euphoric feeling.
The study, “Adolescent Mental Health and the Choking Game,” surveyed 1,771 French middle-school students who reported participating in the choking game, asking them if they have ever experienced depression symptoms or symptoms of a conduct disorder, such as anti-social behaviors or rule-breaking.
Researchers found that the overall rate of participation in the game was 9.7 percent, for both male and female students. Having a conduct disorder was a strong indicator for participation in the choking game. Symptoms of depression also indicated a risk factor for participation, but not as strongly as conduct disorder symptoms.
According to the authors, this study supports the idea that participating in the game serves as a coping mechanism for teens in distress. They suggest prevention programs emphasize the importance of emotion-regulating skills and emotion management to regulate the negative effects of depression and conduct disorders.
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