Therapy Based On Virtual Reality Can Help Combat Depression

Therapy Based On Virtual Reality Can Help Combat Depression

Virtual Reality Therapy Can Help Fight Depression

There are many people who often judge themselves strictly against others. But scientists at the University College London and ICREA University of Barcelona said that the therapy based on virtual reality can help us to accept ourselves and eventually boost our mood and self-confidence. In other words, the therapy can help us to be less disapproving and more compassionate towards ourselves.

The therapy was previously applied to 15 patients with depression within the age group of 23-61 years by a group of healthy volunteers. Nine of them experienced less severe depressive symptoms a month after the therapy, four of whom reported a clinically momentous fall in the severity of depression, researchers stated.

During the study, the patients were made to wear a virtual reality headset to assess from the point of view of a virtual body or life-size ‘avatar’. After having observed this virtual body in a mirror moving in the same manner as that of their own body characteristically produced the delusion that it’s their own body. This process is called ‘embodiment’.

While being represented by an adult avatar, the participants were trained to convey compassion towards a troubled virtual child. As they interacted with the child, it appeared to eventually stop crying and reply positively to the compassion.

After some time, the patients who were represented in the virtual child could observe the adult avatar deliver their own compassionate words and expressions to them.

This brief scenario of about eight minutes was repeated three times at weekly intervals and patients were made to follow up a month after. Chris Brewin, the study lead at the University College London said, “People who struggle with anxiety and depression can be excessively self-critical when things go wrong in their lives.”

Brewin further said in this study that by placating the child and then listening back their own words, the patients are ultimately lending themselves the compassion.

The research findings were published in the Psychiatry Open Journal of Britain.

Mel Slater the study author from ICREA-University of Barcelona added by saying that all of us can now hope to design the technique further to host a bigger controlled trail so that other clinical benefits can be confidently determined.