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Friday, February 19, 2016

Virtual Reality And Treating Depression

Depressed? Strap on a VR Headset

According to a new study, virtual reality therapy could help reduce symptoms of depression.

Stephanie Mlot | February 17, 2016

A psychiatrist's couch doesn't always cut it for folks suffering from depression. According to a new study from University College London (UCL) and ICREA-University of Barcelona, virtual reality might help.
Wearing a VR headset, 15 depression patients ages 23 to 61 were asked to express compassion toward a distressed virtual child. As each participant interacted with the animated character, the kid gradually stopped crying and responded positively toward the user's kindness. The patients then embodied the child and watched as their adult avatar delivered sympathetic words and gestures.


<more at,2817,2499423,00.asp; related links: (Virtual reality could help fight depression. It's early days, but initial trials are positive. February 17, 2016) and (Embodying self-compassion within virtual reality and its effects on patients with depression. Caroline J. Falconer, Aitor Rovira, John A. King, Paul Gilbert, Angus Antley, Pasco Fearon, Neil Ralph, Mel Slater, and Chris R. Brewin. British Journal of Psychiatry, February 2016, 2 (1) 74-80; DOI: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.002147. [Abstract: Background Self-criticism is a ubiquitous feature of psychopathology and can be combatted by increasing levels of self-compassion. However, some patients are resistant to self-compassion. Aims. To investigate whether the effects of self-identification with virtual bodies within immersive virtual reality could be exploited to increase self-compassion in patients with depression. Method. We developed an 8-minute scenario in which 15 patients practised delivering compassion in one virtual body and then experienced receiving it from themselves in another virtual body. Results. In an open trial, three repetitions of this scenario led to significant reductions in depression severity and self-criticism, as well as to a significant increase in self-compassion, from baseline to 4-week follow-up. Four patients showed clinically significant improvement. Conclusions. The results indicate that interventions using immersive virtual reality may have considerable clinical potential and that further development of these methods preparatory to a controlled trial is now warranted.])>


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