3D game tackles depression in young patients
This week The British Medical Journal has published research which suggests that playing a 3D computer game could be just as successful as face-to-face counselling when it comes to treating young people with depression.
The interactive fantasy game SPARX (Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts) uses cognitive behavioural techniques, allowing players to select an avatar that faces challenges in the virtual world controlled by Gnats (gloomy, negative automatic thoughts).
A trial was conducted on 187 young people in New Zealand between the ages of 12-19, who were already seeing help for depression. Half of the participants were treated with conventional methods while the other half were treated with the 3D game SPARX. It was found that the game helped reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in more than a third of participants.
The study has been welcomed by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, with the CEO Paul Jenkins saying, “We welcome any new and innovative approaches like this game if it makes it easier for young people to address mental illness and get the treatment they need. This is especially important for teenagers and young men as it can be really difficult for them to open up about depression and to seek help”.