A Video Game Designed to Treat Depression Worked Better Than Counseling

More

SPARX uses the form of a videogame to help depressive teenagers treat themselves.

medGadget
medGadget

Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand just published promising results of a study comparing a video game they designed to help treat depression in teenage kids against traditional face-to-face counseling. Called SPARX, the game guides the players through a number of challenges that help practice handling various life situations and emotions that come with them.

The study, published in the latest issue of BMJ, has shown that the game was at least as effective as counseling in helping treat depression and anxiety in a study group of kids averaging 15 years old. [Editor's note: In fact, it worked better, reducing symptoms of depression more than treatment as usual.]

More about the game from the developers:

It uses a 3D animated game environment and a custom-made soundtrack to engage young people and teach them skills to manage symptoms of depression, in a self-directed learning format. Users are able to customise their avatar and journey to seven Provinces, each with a unique set of challenges and puzzles.

The Guide explains how the skills in the game relate to the challenges a young person may face in the real world. Young people learn cognitive behavioural therapy techniques for dealing with symptoms of depression (e.g. dealing with negative thoughts, problem-solving, activity scheduling, relaxation, etc). It can be used with minimal oversight.


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

Jump to comments
Presented by

medGadget is written by a group of MDs and biomedical engineers.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In