Conferences and Events

Virtual Reality Therapy could Help People with Depression

An immersive virtual reality therapy could help people with depression to be less critical and more compassionate towards themselves, reducing depressive symptoms, finds a new study from UCL (University College London) and ICREA-University of Barcelona. The therapy, previously tested by healthy volunteers, was used by 15 depression patients aged 23-61. Nine reported reduced depressive symptoms a month after the therapy, of whom four experienced a clinically significant drop in depression severity. The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open and was funded by the Medical Research Council.

Patients in the study wore a virtual reality headset to see from the perspective of a life-size 'avatar' or virtual body. Seeing this virtual body in a mirror moving in the same way as their own body typically produces the illusion that this is their own body. This is called 'embodiment'.

While embodied in an adult avatar, participants were trained to express compassion towards a distressed virtual child. As they talked to the child it appeared to gradually stop crying and respond positively to the compassion. After a few minutes the patients were embodied in the virtual child and saw the adult avatar deliver their own compassionate words and gestures to them. This brief 8-minute scenario was repeated three times at weekly intervals, and patients were followed up a month later.

"People who struggle with anxiety and depression can be excessively self-critical when things go wrong in their lives," explains study lead Professor Chris Brewin (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology). "In this study, by comforting the child and then hearing their own words back, patients are indirectly giving themselves compassion. The aim was to teach patients to be more compassionate towards themselves and less self-critical, and we saw promising results. A month after the study, several patients described how their experience had changed their response to real-life situations in which they would previously have been self-critical."

The study offers a promising proof-of-concept, but as a small trial without a control group it cannot show whether the intervention is responsible for the clinical improvement in patients.

"We now hope to develop the technique further to conduct a larger controlled trial, so that we can confidently determine any clinical benefit," says co-author Professor Mel Slater (ICREA-University of Barcelona and UCL Computer Science). "If a substantial benefit is seen, then this therapy could have huge potential. The recent marketing of low-cost home virtual reality systems means that methods such as this could potentially be part of every home and be used on a widespread basis."

Caroline J. Falconer, Aitor Rovira, John A. King, Paul Gilbert, Angus Antley, Pasco Fearon, Neil Ralph, Mel Slater, Chris R. Brewin
Embodying self-compassion within virtual reality and its effects on patients with depression
British Journal of Psychiatry Open Feb 2016, 2 (1) 74-80; DOI: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.002147

Most Popular Now

Aridhia Announces Expansion as it U…

A Scottish clinical and translational informatics company has announced it is part of a consortium selected to deliver a digital research environment based on its Analyti...

Read more

Smartphones and Wearable Devices co…

RADAR-CNS (Remote assessment of disease and relapse - Central Nervous System), a major new research programme supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) start...

Read more

Patientrack Recognised as One of 'T…

UK healthcare technology company Patientrack has been recognised as providing one of the best eHealth solutions anywhere in Europe, in an EU competition focussed on healt...

Read more

Mobile Technology: Is the NHS Closi…

Opinion Article by Steve Carvell, head of healthcare at CommonTime. Technology skills are in higher demand than ever. Look across any vertical and developers who can cre...

Read more

Philips and SURFsara Team up to Pro…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; AEX: PHIA) and SURFsara (a subsidiary of the SURF cooperation), the leading Dutch high-performance supercomputing and data infrastructure provid...

Read more

Merck in Agreement with HAPPYneuron…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, announced today that the company has entered into an agreement with HAPPYneuron, a subsidiary of SBT Group of France, in ...

Read more

Innovations in Neuroimaging Lead to…

The current special issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors, Volume 18, Number 1 (all open access), is devoted to the evolution o...

Read more

Future Health Index 2016

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) today launched the results of the first edition of its Future Health Index (FHI), an extensive international study which explores how...

Read more

New Digital Centre to Help Improve …

A new centre for digital innovation which could transform the way mental health care is provided will be launched today. The Centre for Translational Informatics (CTI) is...

Read more

eHealth Innovation Days Conference

8 - 9 September 2016, Flensburg, Germany. The first eHealth Innovation Days Conference at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences will offer a platform for networking, ...

Read more

Smart Sensors and Innovation Are th…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; AEX: PHIA) has announced the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected, its latest innovation that uses Smart Sensor technology to help consu...

Read more

Tech Tour Healthtech Summit 2016

21 - 22 June 2016, Lausanne, Switzerland. The 2016 Healthtech Summit is the leading independent European event for investment in Digital Health and Medtech. The summit a...

Read more

Digest Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter and stay updated on the latest eHealth News. Subscribe now, it's free!
© eHealthNews.eu 2006 - 2016