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Video game lifts NZ teen depression: study

Video game lifts NZ teen depression: study

Video game lifts NZ teen depression: study

Updated 20 April 2012, 21:32 AEST

A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as one-on-one counselling, a New Zealand study has found.

Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3-D fantasy game called SPARX.

It was played by 94 young people diagnosed with depression.

The study found that nearly half of the group recovered entirely from depression.


In the group receiving conventional treatment, about a quarter showed the same result.

The self-help computer program was developed by specialists in adolescent depression from the university, based on PhD work by Dr Karolina Stasiak. The project was led by Associate Professor Sally Merry and funded by the Ministry of Health.

The SPARX 3-D fantasy environment and custom-made soundtrack are designed to engage with young people.

The program teaches skills to manage symptoms of depression.

Young people learn cognitive behavioural therapy techniques for dealing with their symptoms - for instance, how to deal with negative thoughts, problem-solving, activity scheduling and relaxation.