36406
Virtual Reality Can Help Treat Depression
People

Virtual Reality Can Help Treat Depression

Virtual reality therapy could help treat depression by encouraging people to be easier on themselves and improve their chances of breaking the cycle of depression, says a new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open.
In 2014, close to 6.6% of American adults experienced at least one bout of major depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines depression as a “period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.”
Self-criticism is common among people with depression. Increasing levels of self-compassion appears to help, but some patients find it hard to show compassion toward themselves, medicalnewstoday.com reported.
A negative self-image can increase an individual’s sense of vulnerability and contribute to the persistence of the depression.
A team, led by Prof. Chris Brewin of University College London (UCL) Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology department, tried the technique first with healthy volunteers.
Researchers then invited 15 patients with depression to try it. They were aged 23-61 years, 10 men and five women. Ten of the patients were taking antidepressants, seven were receiving psychological therapy, seven were waiting for therapy and one had completed a course of therapy.
Each session lasted about 8 minutes, and it was repeated once a week for 3 weeks.
The process involved a technique known as “embodiment,” in which participants wear a virtual reality headset to enable them to see from the perspective of a life-size “avatar,” or virtual body.
As they watched in a mirror, the virtual body moved in the same way as their own body, giving the illusion that it was their body.
 Positive Response
While embodied in the avatar, participants learned to show compassion toward a distressed virtual child. As they interacted with the child, the figure gradually stopped “crying” and responded positively to the compassion.
A few minutes later, the patients were embodied in the virtual child. As the child, they experienced the adult avatar delivering the compassionate words and gestures that they had used previously.
When patients were followed up a month later, the results were positive.
Nine of the patients reported that their depressive symptoms and level of self-criticism had reduced. For four of these, the reduction was clinically significant. Participants reported feeling more self-compassion. Perceptions of the scenario were positive, and repeating the sessions helped to deepen some aspects of the experience.
Several patients also reported that they were less self-critical in real-life situations, too, following the activity.
Co-author Prof. Mel Slater, of ICREA-University of Barcelona and UCL Computer Science, sees great potential if substantial benefit can be demonstrated.
As low-cost virtual reality systems for domestic use have become more widely available in recent years, he believes such therapies could be viable, even for use at home

Short URL : http://goo.gl/HT9y9D
  1. http://goo.gl/Dvc80d
  • http://goo.gl/UEXIeP
  • http://goo.gl/iGh0JJ
  • http://goo.gl/WxPAUN
  • http://goo.gl/1dndF3

Trending

Googleplus