Video game that can fight depression in teens developed
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Scientists have developed a unique video game which they claim will help fight depression in adolescents.
Researchers from New Zealand have developed 'SPARX video game' that teaches adolescents to deal with depression using a psychological approach known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the 'Daily Mail' reported.
The game is based on a role-playing fantasy game, where players adopt a warrior avatar and get to blast negative thoughts with fireballs while trying to save the world from sinking into a mire of pessimism and despair.
"You can deal with mental health problems in a way that doesn't have to be deadly serious," project leader and psychiatrist Sally Merry at Auckland University was quoted as saying by the paper.
"The therapy doesn't have to be depressing in and of itself. We're aiming to make it fun," she said, adding that teenagers could address their issues privately with help of the game.
A clinical trial done by British Medical Journal found that SPARX helped reduce mild to moderate depression as effectively as traditional counselling.
It could be used as an alternative to face-to-face therapy, particularly in rural areas or settings where mental health services are not available, the journal reported.
The game has seven levels, each lasting 35-40 minutes - the same as a counselling session and is aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds, the age range when adolescent depression generally begins.
It introduces players to a guide, or mentor, who helps them through the levels, each of which has a lesson embedded in it teaching skills such as anger management, conflict resolution and breathing relaxation exercises.
Instead of having characters going around shooting or killing with machine guns or bombs, the video game avatar owns a staff so it could shoot lighting bolts to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
The game has won an innovation prize at the UN's World Summit Awards and had attracted countries like United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, as well as non-English speaking countries who are now looking to translate it, the report said.
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