News24

Computer game helps kids with depression

2012-04-20 12:41

Paris - A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as one-on-one counselling, New Zealand doctors reported on Thursday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half.

Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones.

Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales.

In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.

"Use of the programme resulted in a clinically significant reduction in depression, anxiety and hopelessness, and an improvement in quality of life," according to the study led by Sally Merry, an associate professor at the Department of Psychological Medicine.

The adolescents also gave a high rating to Sparx, saying they liked being able to use it at home and to learn at their own pace.

Eighty percent said they would recommend the computer therapy to others, although the treatment-as-usual group had similarly high approval ratings.

Comments
  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-04-20 12:59

    The computer generation...who needs a human touch?

      Preshen - 2012-04-20 14:17

      Nothing else make me feel better then shooting someone on Call of Duty

      Preshen - 2012-04-20 14:17

      Nothing else make me feel better then shooting someone on Call of Duty

      jody.beggs - 2012-04-20 14:51

      Or blowing them up !

      jody.beggs - 2012-04-20 14:51

      Or blowing them up !

      taunks1 - 2012-04-22 02:46

      I don't want strange therapists touching me, thanks

      taunks1 - 2012-04-22 02:46

      I don't want strange therapists touching me, thanks

      Karen - 2012-04-22 10:25

      I think it's brilliant. Someone has found an effective way to help kids. Nothing can replace love but sometimes we need to find other avenues when that love is not present, for whatever reason.

      Karen - 2012-04-22 10:25

      I think it's brilliant. Someone has found an effective way to help kids. Nothing can replace love but sometimes we need to find other avenues when that love is not present, for whatever reason.

  • Jabulani - 2012-04-20 14:38

    Interesting!

  • Jabulani - 2012-04-20 14:39

    That's what's up?

  • Garth - 2012-04-21 17:53

    Disturbing if you ask me!

      johncarlos.biza - 2012-04-22 00:10

      Move with the times

      johncarlos.biza - 2012-04-22 00:10

      Move with the times

      lydonmcg - 2012-04-22 11:44

      You must live in absolute fear if you consider THAT disturbing. Good grief.

      lydonmcg - 2012-04-22 11:44

      You must live in absolute fear if you consider THAT disturbing. Good grief.

  • Gieljam - 2012-04-22 11:25

    I think they should start looking for the cause at the source and that is with the parents( if any) peers , teachers and the like, to see how they fare in it and correct any deficiency's there ,before the children are treated .....

  • indianajohn - 2012-04-22 15:22

    It is often very difficult and even traumatizing for a person suffering from depression to go see a professional. If this gets the ball rolling then it's great.

  • Lynn - 2012-04-22 16:35

    Treating depression; there's no "one size fits all" approach. Seems to me this is another great tool. If it helps. Fabulous!

  • JamesAnthonyPrendergast - 2012-04-23 00:57

    The children who play so innocently with games like "Call of Duty" are quite likely candidates for depression owing to the dissociation of their feelings from reality. They do, however, possess the skills in abundance to utilize Sparx.

  • georg.braun - 2012-04-23 01:52

    where to get Sparx?

  • Andrew - 2012-04-23 14:14

    As a Psychologist I think this could be great. The fact of the matter is that some people just don't respond to therapy (although medication combined with therapy is still the most effective treatment) so any new approach that helps, and doesn't hurt, is to be welcomed.

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