Virtual reality is as effective as real-life activities against depression

This is surprising news from a trial of patients with severe depression. Those who used a virtual reality headset that offered different activities improved as much as those who were encouraged to go out in real life.

An article he wrote

France Info – Geraldine Zamanski

Radio France


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A hopeful experiment uses virtual reality headsets to reduce symptoms in patients with severe depression. (Illustration) (Juanma Hachi/MOMENT RF/Getty Images)

Virtual activities can combat depression in addition to their real-life benefits! Details from Geraldine Zamanski, journalist for France 5's Health magazine.

France Info: A young American researcher told you about the improvement of depression patients thanks to virtual reality?

Geraldine Zamanski: Certainly, these are very real and hopeful results for people with major depressive disorder. Once a highly advanced headset is placed in front of their eyes. Finally, I assure you they were not left to their own devices with this device. This was a real clinical trial at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, where all patients received weekly treatment sessions for three weeks.

Depending on the lottery, they were simultaneously encouraged either to do real-life activities or to use loaned headphones for study. Its technology gives the impression that you are in the middle of the forest or on the beach. With the possibility of interacting with this environment. One of the most popular options among participants is to transform them into Jedi knights equipped with lightsabers…

Did playing Star Wars really get them out of their depression?

So I started with the most fun example, but above all, they visited many places, thanks to the realistic 360 degree videos, or even did a lot of meditation. As a result, their health condition actually improved at a rate of 4 sessions per week. As much as in the group with real activities.

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Coordinator this studyDr. Margot Ball explained to me how this solution is suitable for people whose illness often deprives them of the energy to leave the house. The headphone seems to break the vicious cycle of depression, by stimulating the brain, which “wake up” thanks to the feelings of pleasure and satisfaction it feels.

Some patients report a better ability to concentrate. Others found the motivation to go to the seaside, after the virtual beach.

Would this allow for some kind of re-education of the brain?

Yes, and these results are welcomed by Professor Christophe Lanson, psychiatrist and head of the department at La Conception Hospital in Marseille. His team is already using this type of device with simulations designed to combat addiction, for example by training patients to manage situations in which they might be at risk of relapse. It is an effective tool against certain phobias. But the best headsets are still expensive. Let's hope for cheaper solutions and, who knows, future reimbursement for healthcare?

the study

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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