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Sparx: Can a computer game help teens tackle depression?

sparx-game

A fantasy computer game could help young people battle depression and mental health issues, according to a new study carried out by researches at the University of Auckland.

We’ve heard about a number of online games and tools recently that encourage people of all ages to think about their health and fitness (check out SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal), but now researchers are claiming that a new computer game called Spark could help those battling with depression.

Despite the fact many people assume computer games leave individuals feeling isolated and lonely, a recent study from researchers at the University of Auckland has found that self-help game Sparx could be as effective as traditional treatments when it comes to reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Spark sees players make an online avatar and overcome challenges in a world full of gnats, which are Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts. In this way it employs Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques in a way that’s fun, engaging and doesn’t come across as too forced.

According to the study from the University of Auckland, 44% of young people who completed a number of levels of Sparx noticed an improvement in their problems. Although at 187 the group of individuals is rather small, these kinds of games could be really valuable ways of helping individuals overcome issues in their own time without the pressure or expense of seeking professional help elsewhere.

[Via Daily Mail]

By Becca

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