Computer Game May Treat Teen Depression

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New research suggests a 3-D computer game may be a more effective treatment for teenage depression than a therapist.

Researchers in New Zealand designed a specialized interactive fantasy game called Sparx for their study, now published in the British Medical Journal.

They found that 44 percent of teens who completed most of the game completely recovered from their depression. Only 26 percent of teens who received traditional therapy saw the same results.

Study authors called Sparx an "effective resource for help seeking adolescents with depression at primary healthcare sites."

"Use of the program resulted in a clinically significant reduction in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness and an improvement in quality of life," they added.

Sparx is a self-help game that uses "cognitive behavioral therapy" techniques to help players.

The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that 11 percent of 13 to 18-year-olds develop depression at some point.

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