Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Computer Game Designed To Treat Depression As Effective As Traditional Treatment

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the defeat-the-zoloftians dept.

Medicine 190

New submitter sirlark writes "'Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half. Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones. Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales. In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.' One has to wonder if it's Sparx specifically — or gaming in general — that provides the most benefit, given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot)."

cancel ×

190 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Would have been first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753605)

but I was just too depressed to bother.

Re:Would have been first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753615)

So is it "sparx" or "spanx"?

Re:Would have been first post (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753701)

right, like everything else it probably wont even work...

I for one... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753669)

I, for one, welcome our new robot psychiatrist overlords.

Re:I for one... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753703)

I, for one, think this whole thing totally blows chunks.

Re:I for one... (1)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753813)

That would be these reassuring fellas: Just repeat to yourself, Everything is going to be all right [tm]... [mytherapybuddy.com]

Re:I for one... (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754731)

Yeah, I kinda read that as a "we reprogrammed them".

Doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753671)

Best anti-depression video game ever.

Re:Doom (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753921)

Doom has a certain stigma attached to it, especially when depressed, alienated teens obsessively play it...

Re:Doom (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754933)

Then eliminate the source for their depression. Don't blame their outlet for the cause.

Enders game? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753673)

Anyone? It's coming. Pretty soon our actions in video games will contribute to the profile built on our web habits. Fun fun fun.

"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (1, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753689)

For my money, this video game works as well as conventional counseling because conventional counseling doesn't work. People get better, sure, but they get better on their own. Time, improving life circumstances, and new friends are what end depression, not lying on a couch talking about your feelings.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753711)

you've not had depression, then.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753805)

Playing WoW when I was depressed was the most helpful thin, actually. I really didn't even want to talk to other people. Talking about it would have just made me feel worse and hopeless. The reward feeback system in the game made me feel good about myself, as I was able to achieve goals, play with friends, help newbies out, and win loot. I still worked, tried to be social, and got a little exercise, so I don't think it should be taken to the extreme like in South Park.

However, I'm sure any number of real life activities could replace a game. Good thing about games are that you can play them any time of day, you don't really have to rely on other people, and your dexterity doesn't have to be great so you can be drunk and/or high and not really risk getting into trouble.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (3, Interesting)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754453)

I can totally relate to that. Any sufficiently challenging game, with a decent reward system, and "feel good about yourself" moments would do.

But then comes times like this year, when you have lots of work to do, a senior project to finish by a very short deadline, a shitty boss, and add one or two nasty incidents, and you suddenly find yourself lacking the time to get into any video game, but quite to the contrary, you start feeling guilty when playing instead of working on the project, and the depression crawls back into you.

So it boils down to helping your depression vs helping your life? A question that is depressing itself :(

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753793)

Do you often talk about shit you don't understand as if you actually know what you speak of?

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753947)

You must be new here.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (5, Insightful)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753883)

You seem to be thinking of mild depression or even subclinical sadness. This is quite common, as psychiatric disorders tend to be an exaggeration of normal things that everyone feels, so it's easy to underestimate them. You also rarely see them, as holding a job and going out requires a fair degree of psychological health. The last hundred years or so of medical research specifically tests for effectiveness VS a placebo, so it's not like people are just shooting in the dark here. (To throw you a bone, medications don't seem to be very effective against mild depression.) Most of the people I've talked to keep struggling with depression throughout their life and getting treatment means getting better in weeks/months rather than years.

Also, stop getting your medical knowledge from TV, it's wrong. The vast majority of psychologists don't do the couch thing anymore. Plus, CBT (the most common type) isn't really talking about one's feelings at length. If I remember my history right, that sort of therapy died out as psychology progressed beyond Freud. There are likely a few psychologists that still do it, but they cater to rich people with similar misconceptions (it requires almost weekly visits for years before you see significant results -- assuming the psychologist doesn't incorporate newer forms of therapy).

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754793)

CBT is definitely NOT the standard. Maybe in the US but here in Europe there are dozens of forms of therapy used effectively. A modified form of Psychoanalysis (without the couch) is among the most popular ones.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754941)

What's CBT? Sounds kinda painful...

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (2)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754149)

For my money, this video game works as well as conventional counseling because conventional counseling doesn't work. People get better, sure, but they get better on their own. Time, improving life circumstances, and new friends are what end depression, not lying on a couch talking about your feelings.

Do you have anything to back this up, or are you making it up ... or just repeating cynical ignorance that I've heard 1,000 times before? The problem with repeating cynical ignorance is that you can spread misinformation to people who really need it. Next is anecdotal speculation about vaccine effectiveness?

On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (5, Informative)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754243)

I've been diagnosed with recurring depression and there is quite a lot of that in my family line (father is currently medicated after years long serious depression, etc.). There have been times I've been depressed and not went for treatment and there have been times I've went to a therapist... and there is a world of difference. Of course, depression affects individuals in different ways so everything I say might not apply to everyone but I'll try to speak on a relatively general level.

First of all... "Time, improving life circumstances, and new friends are what end depression"... Those aren't the kind of things that happen during a depression! When you can't force yourself to get into the job (a job you normally love, really want to keep, etc.) in time (or at all) for months and even if you get in, you can't concentrate enough to do anything complex (e.g., coding) efficiently... When you don't feel any interest to meet friends, girlfriend, etc... there's pretty high chance of getting fired, failing your classes, destroying your relationships, etc. which will make the depression deeper. Time might take care of it but if you allow that situation to go on for months first (untreated, my depression usually lasts about 4-5 months), you've probably nearly ruined your life first (been there, done that).

So, if you're depressed, not getting treatment is usually stupid. There are always medications but studies have shown that if you treat your depression with drugs, you're likely to get depressed again sooner and the next depression is likely to be deeper... until the medicines don't have enough effect anymore.

As for what happens in therapy... I've been to quite a few sessions and I've never had to talk about my childhood and whatnot. There are quite a few schools of therapy but Freudian, Jungian, etc. exist only in movies and as fashionable things to try out for the rich people. The therapist I usually go to helps me do damage control: Helps me take the steps that prevent me from ruining my life (Talk with my boss about my need to work at a reduced capacity for a while instead of me just not showing up for work half the time, etc.) at first and then helps me claw my way out of the pit (prioritize the massive bulk of tasks that seem impossible to handle, get small successes on which to build, etc.), helps me find the things that deepen my depression and find ways to solve them (Your home is filthy? You don't think you're going to lose your job immediately? Well, get a cleaner to visit it once a week until you're up and going again!... type of practical solutions)... Nothing magic but just things that you can't get done without help if you're depressed.

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (5, Insightful)

N_Piper (940061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754407)

"There are always medications but studies have shown that if you treat your depression with drugs, you're likely to get depressed again sooner and the next depression is likely to be deeper... until the medicines don't have enough effect anymore."

You know some of us with actual mental illness really get our knickers in a twist when people start saying we don't need our medicines we just need to Try REALLLLLLLY hard and we'll get better.
If having a sucky life makes you depressed then you aren't mentally ill, you just have a sucky life, it's normal to be depressed then, heck if you are on the proper medication for chronic depression you should be depressed when your life sucks. If all you need is help, love, reassurance and planning to get out of your problem then more power to you. When you have a stable job, loving spouse, safe clean home and pleasant relations with your extended family and you sleep all day because you think if you get up you are liable to slit your wrists that is mental illness.
Anyway what you have and what I have are two very different diseases that happen to share a name, sometimes telling one from the other is difficult so everyone owes it to themselves to explore all the options for treatment. That being said don't call my drugs dangerous and ineffective and I won't call your therapy hippie bullcrap ok?

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754449)

That being said don't call my drugs dangerous and ineffective and I won't call your therapy hippie bullcrap ok?

Surely we should decide these matters on the basis of experimental results, rather than a he-said she-said argument about it (or passive-aggressive avoidance thereof)? A good first step would be for the grandparent to link to the studies they mentioned.

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754617)

With all due respect, I have a great time understanding mental illnesses.

When I read your post I think: OK, so this guy has a wonderful life, good job, good spouse, good family, but however something is wrong with him because feel suicidal. There must totally be some chemical unbalance on his brain, because otherwise there's no way he should feel that way.

That is something I understand. There's a physical yet not fully understood problem with him, so he's ill and there is medication to (at least partially) solve it so he can be fit again.

But when I read grandparent post my thought is the same as yours. If you don't have a family, friends, a job and your house is full of shit, then you should totatally feel down. That's the way you're supposed to feel and that's not a problem, that's a logical consequence of the way your life is.

Then you have no physical illness and you can change the way you live your life so that you can be happy again. Get out of your apartment and find a job, clean your house and start meeting new people who make you happy. I understand this may be difficult when you're so pitiful of yourself and that you may need external help to push you and encourage you. But come on, that's not what I would call an illness.

Anyway what you have and what I have are two very different diseases that happen to share a name

I think I totally agree with you, because at least that is something that makes me understand what mental illnesses are and what really is depression (what you have) and what is what the grandparent has. And the latter is usually what people think of when talk about depression, thus diminishing the ones with a real problem like you.

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754849)

Exactly. Depression and just having the blues because of some events in life (simple things like boredom or heavy stuff like death of a loved one, breaking up with your partner) are two different things. It is known that if you're susceptible to developing depression those kinds of events in life can trigger it but most of the time it's just a normal reaction to feel down.

Heavy Depression is different than feeling down. It is like having a tooth ache that doesn't go away. Every hour you have it is miserable. You don't think you will ever feel well again. You just want it to stop, even if it means to kill yourself.

Medication works well on heavy depression but it takes up to 6 weeks to start working. A time that is most gruesome. Most people who have developed chronic depression also need to take those meds their entire life.

So yes, feeling down and real depression are two different kinds of things.

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (3)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754787)

I think you're reading a little too much into what F69631 said. I read it as, "If you treat yourself (only) with drugs...". And what he says about about drugs tending to lose their efficacy over time (due to building up tolerance) is perfectly true. I don't think he's saying, "Don't use drugs at all", and I also think you are being unnecessarily defensive, since he doesn't say anything about drugs being "dangerous and ineffective".

If you read what he said *in context*, he also says that *his depression is not necessarily exactly the same as other people's*. The rest of his post suggests that he is also talking to a large extent about people who seem to think they can just take a magic pill and their problems will go away. Not to mention those people who tell someone suffering from depression, "Oh, you just take take a pill for that." (Maybe you've never seen ads for various meds that imply that this is the case on TV, in magazines, etc.? I'm pretty sure that I have.) And he goes to imply that he thinks that therapy/consultation should always be a part of treatment.

And, as someone who's been there himself, I happen to agree with him.

ExecSummary: He doesn't say (IMNSHO), "Don't do meds at all"; he says, "Don't rely on meds to the exclusion of anything else".

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754811)

Anyway what you have and what I have are two very different diseases that happen to share a name, sometimes telling one from the other is difficult so everyone owes it to themselves to explore all the options for treatment. That being said don't call my drugs dangerous and ineffective and I won't call your therapy hippie bullcrap ok?

Actually, I think they're similar diseases that neither of you fully understand (which is fair enough, because nobody really understands them)... I am not a psychologist, but I have been through severe depression with suicidal tendencies. My psych at the time put it best... therapy on its own will work, some of the time. Meds on their own will work, some of the time. For best results, you need to combine them.

What I found from experience was that SSRI's took the edge off my feelings. They didn't make them disappear, but they made them bearable so that I could work on what the real problem was. There was a neurochemical imbalance: my brain was not producing enough seratonin. But blocking the reuptake of that neurotransmitter, which is how most anti-depressants work, didn't do anything to address the issue that was causing my problems in the first place. What it *did* do was make it so that I could see the exit, but I still had to work on getting there. What I found when I reached that goal was that I didn't need the medications any more, and was able to stop taking the SSRI medication. It's now been 5 years since I stopped taking anti-depressants, and 3 years since I stopped seeing a psychologist on a regular basis, and I have not had a single relapse.

Now, I'm not saying that you don't need it. I'm not saying you'll necessarily reach a point where you don't need it... there could be something weird with the way your brain is wired, such that going off the meds is not an option. But I'm also not saying that the person for whom pure therapy works is full of it. Mental health, and how the psyche and physical brain interact, is something we're only just beginning to understand. We've barely scratched the surface, and what we're realizing is that it's easily the most complicated field of medicine that exists. In my case, there was an elephant in the room that I was afraid to address, and it is what was causing my depression. There may be a similar issue going on for the both of you, and I don't think either of you should discount what's working for the other.

Re:On behalf of us who've suffered... piss off! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754973)

Hey, I have a great life, at least when you look at it from the outside. Incredibly well paying job (actually, my dream job), quite a few people who worry about me (aka "friends"), and yet getting up in the morning every day is a fight and a half (and not only 'cause I couldn't sleep half the night) and if I had the choice I would rather just stay in bed for a few days. Or weeks. Or years. Which of course doesn't make me feel any better either.

Me and my doc are now at the point where the next drug in line would probably be either meth or coke... and still no improvement whatsoever. So don't tell me the drugs work. They don't.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754737)

More clueless bollocks from someone who's never really been there.

Re:"as effective" doesn't mean "effective" (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754803)

Well, having looked through the literature in the past I would agree that "conventional" counselling isn't perhaps as effective as people make out. CBT is the most common and probably attracts attention and resources because it is the most common... not because it is particularly effective. But there are plenty of other forms of counselling, and the key is selecting the approach that fits the client, the symptoms and available pharmacological inteventions. And there are approaches that do involve people talking about their feelings. For example, I recall one patient where this approach was particularly suitable for treating their stress induced psychosis, along with suitable medication. Yes, some people can get better on their own, but not all. "Friendship" can help, particularly in a therapeutic environment. This video game is very useful as it provides another option in treating youngsters with depression. It is likely to engage them and is something they can manage in their own time. But when it comes to using this in the real world, away from the trial environment, it will be best used by experts as a part of a programme of therapy, not on it's own.

Nothing could possibly go wrong. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753693)

He stared at the two liquids. The one foaming, the other with waves in it like the sea. He tried to guess what kind of death each one held. Probably a fish will come out of the ocean one and eat me. The foamy one will probably asphyxiate me. I hate this game. It isn't fair. It's stupid. It's rotten. And instead of pushing his face into one of the liquids, he kicked one over, then the other, and dodged the Giant's huge hands as the Giant shouted, "Cheater, cheater!" He jumped at the Giant's face, clambered up his lip and nose, and began to dig in the Giant's eye. The stuff came away like cottage cheese, and as the Giant screamed, Ender's figure burrowed into the eye, climbed right in, burrowed in and in. The Giant fell over backward, the view shifted as he fell, and when the Giant came to rest on the ground, there were intricate, lacy trees all around. A bat flew up and landed on the dead Giant's nose. Ender brought his figure up out of the Giant's eye. "How did you get here?" the bat asked. "Nobody ever comes here." Ender could not answer, of course. So he reached down, took a handful of the Giant's eyestuff, and offered it to the bat. The bat took it and flew off, shouting as it went, "Welcome to Fairyland."

Won't work (5, Funny)

recrudescence (1383489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753697)

Won't work outside the lab. As soon as they release it to market and pump it full of DRM and premium-content-ads, they'll get depressed all over again.

Re:Won't work (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753819)

Won't work outside the lab. As soon as they release it to market and pump it full of DRM and premium-content-ads, they'll get repressed all over again.

FTFY.

In Soviet Russia (0, Offtopic)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753705)

Games DEPRESS you!

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754391)

No, in Soviet Russia you treat games' depression.

Not Sparx specifically (3, Interesting)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753715)

" One has to wonder if it's Sparx specifically — or gaming in general — that provides the most benefit, given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot)."

The thing a lot of people especially in the age group tested lack are the emotional tools to deal with normal feelings such as anger and depression. One on one counseling helps the patient build those tools and if the game is designed with that in mind then yes it's Sparx not all games. If it were all video games that made a person feel empowered then I really doubt EMO would have ever been "invented".

Re:Not Sparx specifically (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753791)

My take is that "traditional therapy" is a pretty low bar to pass, Sparx isn't necessarily doing much better than random chance (and neither is traditional therapy.)

Re:Not Sparx specifically (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753821)

I think you're right in most cases of people that are really messed up, but if it's just because they don't know how to handle their emotions it can help.

Re:Not Sparx specifically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754637)

My take is that "traditional therapy" is a pretty low bar to pass, Sparx isn't necessarily doing much better than random chance (and neither is traditional therapy.)

Just curious, how do you define "random chance" for this? Do you just assume that 50% would get better without any help, and 50% not?

Re:Not Sparx specifically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753903)

There are other games designed to deal with depression. Like QWOP. No wait, that's designed to induce depression.

Re:Not Sparx specifically (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754035)

I'm replying but Mods, mod him up!

See that other thread about Science Cheating!

We have a classic case here!

(Subset of Activity) proves results!

But the broader activity is not tested! So they should have tested some 100 games, to see if Sparx is special.

Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (-1, Offtopic)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753717)

autism, hemophilia, etc... things like this used to be very rare because people with these genes tended to not pass them down (due to lower survival rate, or in autism's case due to social stigma attached to mating with one).

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population, not just human. But nowadays they're being kept alive and allowed to breed wantonly, which might be admirable from a moral standpoint... but it's not doing the human gene pool any favors.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753727)

Personally i would say, rather than autism/psychological disorders I see much more danger for our gene pool from the likes of Idiocracy if you get my drift.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

flytripper (2540266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753765)

Troll is obvious or you sir are heinous.

When I saw this after medicating on gaming for years I realised it was time to wake up and do something about it instead of feeling sorry for myself.
http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html [ted.com]

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (5, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753899)

LOLWAT.

Actually, depression and autism are useful for the species-as-a-whole. Sure, severe depression can be crippling -- but some depression is good for society. The pessimists are the ones who tend to see what's going to go wrong, problems with ideas. Worrying about every little thing, to a degree, means every little thing won't go wrong (some still will, but compare to cheery optimists who don't take time to prepare for unfortunate eventualities).

Autism is also a benefit to society, to a degree. Sure, it can be severe, and that's not helpful -- but good grief, go pick out any famous genius from the past, read up on how strange their behavior was. PROTIP: Some of our greatest advancements in knowledge and science came from the minds of people who had strange and inexplicable obsessive habits, who were not socially apt or adapt.

In short, you're pretty much an idiot lacking any understanding of the societal benefits of diversity.

These things persist in society precisely because they were useful.

Hemophilia? Not so much -- but it's rather rare, and ~1/3 of the cases of it aren't caused by genetic inheritance but rather from random gene mutation.
Diabetes? Not really genetic. There can be a genetic predisposition for it, but that doesn't really CAUSE it -- just makes it more likely to happen.

We've had thousands of years "left to nature" for undesirable traits that hinder survival to be weeded out. That these traits persist should be a pretty big fucking clue to you.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754477)

The pessimists are the ones who tend to see what's going to go wrong, problems with ideas.

I would very likely be considered a pessimist by the average person, but I'm not depressed.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753931)

I agree that this is a severe problem. Unfortunately, the only solutions brought forward to far are completely unacceptable.

Killing people with these diseases off, is obviously unacceptable.

Preventing them from breeding is highly problematic. To give one example, there was a couple in
Austria that recently had their third kid die horribly because they have a known genetic incompatibility and a very high chance of the child being horribly sick. Still, they inflicted this on a third person. There was no legal consequences of them breeding again. They did get convicted because the sickness is treatable today (not pretty), but they instead went for Homeopathy (which, predictably does nothing and the child dies in agony). Yes, even in this extreme case (and I see at least a double manslaughter here, after the first child they knew), nothing was done to prevent them from having more children. The problem are, of course, the various Eugenics programs, in particularly in the 3rd Reich.

Appealing to the insight may work with many, but there are far to many egoists out there for it to be effective.

On the other hand, humans breed like crazy, which causes far more pain, suffering and misery than the egoists that pass serious diseases down to their children. If left unchecked, the human will to reproduce is what may well kill off the human race. Only time will tell what happens. Many industrial nations are already shrinking, so some control mechanism is at work. It may well be that these sicknesses are part of that mechanism.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (0)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754055)

autism, hemophilia, etc... things like this used to be very rare because people with these genes tended to not pass them down (due to lower survival rate, or in autism's case due to social stigma attached to mating with one).

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population, not just human. But nowadays they're being kept alive and allowed to breed wantonly, which might be admirable from a moral standpoint... but it's not doing the human gene pool any favors.

Yeah, and as you demonstrate so well, being a complete fucking douche with no redeeming qualities as a human being is not being bred out of the population either.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754827)

Read your own comment and tell me again who's the douche.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754077)

In the case of autism there's a quirk: "hyper-systemizing" people (i.e. potentially productive geeks) tend to have more children with autism and Asperger syndrome. This would indicate that there's a positive side to these genes that is maladaptive if taken too far.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754163)

autism, hemophilia, etc... things like this used to be very rare because people with these genes tended to not pass them down (due to lower survival rate, or in autism's case due to social stigma attached to mating with one).

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population, not just human. But nowadays they're being kept alive and allowed to breed wantonly, which might be admirable from a moral standpoint... but it's not doing the human gene pool any favors.

I understand that you have no idea what you are talking about. But given that, why would you choose to say the above, of all things? Why say something destructive?

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754265)

There actually still is a social stigma attached to not mating with an autistic person. It just didn't stop your mother.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (2)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754437)

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population

Left to nature, I wouldn't be working a shit job with shitty hours stuck inside in a noisy hot office all day dealing with a workload you'd normally assign to three people and a boss you want to push out of a high window - a boss who has no problem texting you xmas morning expecting you to fix an internet access problem in one department. Nor would I be forced to stay in that job to pay the mortgage on the house that's underwater and unsellable due to recent subsidence. In a decent world, I'd be able to find another job except nobody is hiring at anything other than entry-level salaries in IT in my area (within a several hour commute range) and even those have 50+ applicants per post.

Glad to know I should be sterilized along with my wife, and my existing children should be killed to make sure I don't pollute the gene pool with my depression. Helpful.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754567)

and my existing children

I don't care if you're depressed, but damn... I thought Slashdot geeks would at least be intelligent enough to not breed like mindless animals. Most humans are nothing but parasites who want to breed regardless of how overpopulated this planet is (never mind all the orphans). Some even have nonsensical superstitious beliefs that they'll be able to achieve immortality by having children (if that's not what they believe, then I have no idea what illogical motives they have).

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754783)

If only your parents had followed your excellent advice.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754805)

I believe the applicable meme is, "You must be great fun at parties".

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754843)

Glad to know I should be sterilized along with my wife, and my existing children should be killed to make sure I don't pollute the gene pool with my depression. Helpful.

Glad to know you're completely batshit insane to get that from

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population.

Re:Chronic Depression, type 1 diabetes, (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754461)

Left to nature, contra-survival traits like these weed themselves out in any population, not just human. But nowadays they're being kept alive and allowed to breed wantonly, which might be admirable from a moral standpoint... but it's not doing the human gene pool any favors.

Further to my previous answer... Why don't you tell us what makes YOU such a gift to gene pool? You arrogant twat.

ya dog (1)

laserdog (2500192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753741)

tottaly wicked

Cure v. treatment (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753815)

Depression can't be cured. It can be treated, very effectively, and the outcome will last a long time. But once you've had a depressive episode, you are more likely to have another. The longer and more severe the symptoms, the more likely you are to have a recurrance. Whatever it is that triggers depression can be abated, but it weakens the psychological fabric of the person it afflicts, permanently.

I don't know why this is, or the underlying mechanic. There are many studies out that identify variances in neural activity and neurotransmitter levels that are associated with people having a depressive episode; It has a distinct pathology and has definate biological markers, unlike most personality disorders (as a contrast). But there is scant data on what differences persist in the brain post-recovery... only a marked increase in the odds of relapse.

In that respect, it is much like chicken pox. If you've had it, the virus remains in your body, and for 80% of the population, after the acute infection, there are no further symptoms for the rest of their life. But for some, complications arise in the form of shingles. Depression is like that as well, but without the pathogen -- once you've had it, something is changed in you, forever.

Re:Cure v. treatment (2)

flytripper (2540266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753831)

Apply frustration,anxiety,hopelessness,despair,long period of unemployment or any other negative to a sane rational person for a length of time and you will get the end result: depression.
The length varies but the result is the same.

Re:Cure v. treatment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753851)

Depression can't be cured? Well... that is... depressing. :/

Re:Cure v. treatment (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753853)

No, that's not true. I know that that message is out there -- because I had a therapist who said to me what you just said to me. But my therapist was wrong.

I survived severe depression that I experienced from about 11-19. For reference, I am 34 today. What helped me the most was journaling, journaling, journaling, re-evaluating my self-talk on a minute second by second basis, focusing on love, and a powerful willingness to recognize that the entire world can be wrong about things, and I don't need to let it get to me. I don't know if my telling you that helps at all, but I do want to tell you: It is entirely possible to get out of depression, and on a permanent basis. You can completely rewire your thoughts from the inside out.

I get sad now and then, but it isn't at all the same thing as the deep and persisting depression.

Re:Cure v. treatment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753941)

Thanks for writing this; As someone suffering chronic depression from age of about 8 to 24, I find it quite encouraging. :)

Re:Cure v. treatment (4, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754121)

Some depressions can be cured immediately and permanently.

Some depression is the result of lack of vitamin D3. Spend most of your time indoors, never go out in the sunshine between 10 AM and 2 PM (the only time when you get vitamin D from sunlight), cover most of your body when you *are* out, and slather your skin with sunscreen at the beach. Oh, and the RDA was set abnormally low when it was first set. Take 8,000 IU of D3 for a week and see if you get better. You can say that it's the dead-end job, more likely it's the job keeping you indoors.

Some depression is the result of lack of iodine. Iodine is almost absent from the modern diet. Salt used in commercial products has none (iodized costs more), and bread whiteners which used to be Iodine are now mostly Bromine. The Japanese get lots of iodine in their diet and have much less incidence of depression. Take some Kelp pills for a week and see if you get better. Or, you can go to a professional and learn to manage the symptoms.

Some depression is the result of lack of Thyroid activity. No one knows what causes this (at the moment), but by some accounts 40% of depression can be cured by taking thyroid supplements. This has to be done with a doctor and lab tests, but thyroid extracts are available over the counter and could be taken for a week - see if it makes you feel better. Or, you can try the prescription "we've got it this time for sure!" antidepressant medicine that's in vogue this year.

Some depression is caused by lack of sleep, which is itself caused by allergies. Get a Xylitol nasal spray and use it every 10 minutes for an hour, or until your sinuses are clear, and see if this helps. Or change your mattress if you're waking up sore or with back pain. Or otherwise change your sleeping arrangements to maximize your rest.

Each of these is cheap and could be considered a $20 experiment - if it works, great! If it doesn't, you're out $20 so no big deal.

The "like a virus remains in your body" is fatalistic reasoning - it's an excuse to give up looking.

Another possible explanation is that Depression is a resource depletion disease, which can be cured by building up stores of that resource.

Nota Bene: There is more than one type of depression. There is more than one cause of depression.

Re:Cure v. treatment (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754409)

I'm still a bit skeptic about this D3 buzz lately. I think the biggest thing cheering you up when being outside is all the direct impact to your senses: feeling the warmth of the sun, looking ants marching and enjoying spare ribs and beer with your mates. I myself live in Finland though, so without doubt I would probably still get some benefits from vitamin D.

Re:Cure v. treatment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754831)

I like the virus analogy, because a few years ago I had a virus infection that caused a mild depression.

I had a streptococcus infection, but it didn't look as ugly as it should. Instead, my throat was slightly reddened and a bit sore, not really hurting, but I felt it. The doctor would "cure" it with medicine for cold symptoms and I would get well for a few weeks. Then I would get the sore throat again and after waiting 2 weeks to see if it was common cold and if it just would go away, I visited the doctor again.

This cycle repeated itself over and over. Each time the doctor would try different tests and drugs. After six months I was feeling tired all the time. I had lost the clarity of thought that I used to have, so work became a hard chore. The doctor decided that it was the beginning of depression, caused by poor lifestyle (I admit, I was too tired to do any sports). I was confident that my mind should be able to take the level of stress I had from work and school, so I knew it had to be the extra stress from illness that was causing the depression. I put myself in the waiting list for more professional doctors, and six months later, a simple blood test showed that I had strep infection, along with some other nasty throat infections. These were cured by two weeks of strong antibiotics of the right type (strep was immune to the kind that I had received before). The tiredness was gone after 3 days of the treatment already.

However, depression was not cured overnight. It was just starting to decline and I can't be sure when was it when I could be considered cured. I think it took at least half a year, but of course I am not the same as I was before depression. I became interested in psychology and psychiatry and philosophy during my depression, and these interests have really altered the way I think.

saving the universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753817)

I always feel better after I've saved the universe, or become Master of Orion, etc.
Ditto on DRM when Ive already paid for a game, but cant play it. Somehow, I just don't feel very empowered by that publisher.

Re:saving the universe (1)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753893)

DRM may stop you from saving the universe, but if you learn to think positively, you're helping save a DRM-using company's bottom line! :)

Lying with statistics? (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753873)

Looks like it to me:

- "In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely."
- "In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully."

This seems to indicate high effectiveness of the Sparx treatment, yet it actually tells us absolutely nothing. The critically missing data is how many of the Sparx group completed four or more challenges. If it was 1%, them the overall effectiveness of Sparx may be as low as 0.44% and vastly lower than conventional treatment. If it was 100%, then Sparx has a 44% success rate and is vastly better than conventional treatment.

Either someone is intentionally lying here (remember, these people are psychologists and know how to do it) or the reporter is a nil-whit without a clue on how to report statistics.

Re:Lying with statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753923)

Either someone is intentionally lying here (remember, these people are psychologists and know how to do it).

...What? Please explain how this is anything more than vitriol based on popular misconceptions.

Re:Lying with statistics? (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754005)

I'm glad you've discovered their anti-psychologist agenda.

Re:Lying with statistics? (3, Informative)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754025)

The article itself, but not the second-hand news release, contains the information you want:

Adherence rates

Eighty out of 94 young people who were allocated to SPARX returned questionnaires reporting number of modules completed. Adherence rates for SPARX were good, with 69 (86%) of participants allocated to SPARX completing at least four modules, 48 (60%) completing all seven modules, and 50 (62%) completing most or all of the homework challenges set.

Re:Lying with statistics? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754059)

This seems to indicate high effectiveness of the Sparx treatment, yet it actually tells us absolutely nothing. The critically missing data is how many of the Sparx group completed four or more challenges. If it was 1%, them the overall effectiveness of Sparx may be as low as 0.44% and vastly lower than conventional treatment. If it was 100%, then Sparx has a 44% success rate and is vastly better than conventional treatment.

Only if you also adjust the conventional treatment group's statistics to reflect the recovery rate of those who only took half the course of treatment.

Re:Lying with statistics? (2)

guanxi (216397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754179)

Either someone is intentionally lying here (remember, these people are psychologists and know how to do it)

Are you serious? Your sophisticated analysis is based on the assumption that psychologists are manipulative liars? Is there anything you feel you need to have a basis for stating, or do you just fabricate (or repeat) propaganda and string it together as needed?

Article makes depression worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753905)

The article is quite likely to make peoples' depression worse. It tells about a wonderful new piece of software that helps depression... but doesn't tell where or how to get the software.

A hopeful depressed person sees the /. headline, goes to the article looking for some help, and gets... nothing. How depressing.

Re:Article makes depression worse (2)

TBBle (72184) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753943)

Would http://sparx.org.nz/ [sparx.org.nz] cheer you up?

Sadly, it's not out yet. They do say "We are hoping to make it available this year" but don't mention which year that was. I'm hoping they mean this year, and that they're still on track...

The actual study was from 2009 to 2010, it's just taken them this long to actually get published.

overgeneralizing title (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753955)

"depression" is an umbrella term for a variety of mental health problems with even more diverse causes. Certain forms of depression can certainly be alleviated by giving the patient some task to accomplish. However, the generalization in the header (what is the "traditional treatment" for depression, btw?) makes the probably well-meant research sound like snake oil.

Re:overgeneralizing title (2)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754143)

Perhaps you should read the entire article instead of basing your assinine accusation on the title of a newspaper article describing a journal article which, strangely enough, contains operational definitions for both "depression" and "treatment as usual".

read the original article (3, Informative)

hherb (229558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754007)

The cited article is not informative. Read the original source at http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2598 [bmj.com]
It answers most of the questions in the comments.
You can view the trailer or learn more about the game as such at http://www.sparx.org.nz/ [sparx.org.nz]

*sometimes* depression is mental illness... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754081)

...but sometimes it's just a response to the state of the world and impotence to change it.

And, just like some people in Soviet Russia would be put in residential care because "surely only a madman wouldn't love our system", similarly we diagnose a gret many people with mental illness because "surely only a madman wouldn't love our system". Then begins the reprogramming to accept and serve a society which we should, for a great many reasons, be hating and wanting to change.

A smart psychologist or psychiatrist knows the difference, of course - but not because they're trained to notice it.

Well of course it's Sparx! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754091)

Because Sparx are produced by the Sun!

Hopefully that nerdified this article enough to make up for some of the past ones :)

- vranash

Three thoughts (1)

gedankenhoren (2001086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754115)

1. Is three months after treatment for the follow-up assessments long enough to determine effectiveness?

I can envision something like the following:
a. The computer program is more effective at providing simple, immediate coping strategies for depression (e.g., repeating positive self-statements, setting medium-term goals and achieving them, etc.) than human intervention.
b. Human intervention is more effective at providing more complex and delayed coping strategies for depression (e.g., developing assertiveness, understanding others' motivations, etc.) than the computer program.
c. Measurements three months post-treatment show that the computer program is more effective. Measurements one year post-treatment show that human intervention is more effective.

This is totally hypothetical, but, I think, plausible.

2. Weakness of the study as noted by the authors: [http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2598]

a. "We do not have good data on adherence to treatment as usual. Clinicians often forgot to fill in our forms, and for some the number of sessions planned was unclear. Adherence to SPARX was based on participants’ self report. Ideally, this would have been more robust, but attempts to collect these data on the computers at the different sites foundered as we experienced technical difficulties at some of the sites."

In comparable studies in other fields, time spent on either competing intervention is closely monitored, and, if appropriate, made as equal as possible. This is a major shortcoming.

b. "One of the main weaknesses of our study was the heterogeneity of our treatment as usual group. We considered it unethical to leave young people who had presented for help untreated. We did not have the resources to provide an alternative treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or interpersonal therapy, the "gold standards.""

3. The use of computer programs as treatment is a very interesting trend in psychology and other rehabilitative fields like speech-language pathology. Diagnosis/proper categorization of the patient will become increasingly important.

No shit, Sherlock... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754125)

It has been observed through twenty something years of firsthand experimentation with computer games that they do in fact offer the chance to deal some virtual destruction, which brings with it an immense sense of satisfaction. ...and these assholes needed how much money to come to the same conclusion!?

Better links (5, Informative)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754133)

I am unhappy to see such a low-quality reference for this article, when the official press release from the journal is available [bmj.com] and the full article itself [bmj.com] are available online and

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See

Most of the objections raised in the comments above are answered in the article, which looks to me to be about as high quality as is possible given the differences between the treatments used. Making accusations of "lying" before you have read the full article is unethical.

The main weakness pointed out by the authors was that the compliance with the treatment protocols was reported by the adolescent participants, not by the machines or the professionals providing the treatment. Another was that some 13% of the participants who were supposed to receive treatment as usual were merely put on waiting lists, although that may be treatment as usual in some places; but the real kicker here was that excluding them made the treatment as usual even less effective! There have been plenty of previous studies comparing treatment with non-treatment that find treatment more effective, but testing treatments for depression is very tricky because pretty much anything is beneficial, even telling people they are taking part in an experiment and then doing nothing else, but this article reports “[w]e have carried out two small studies of computerised interventions for depressive symptoms; one showed a significant effect compared with placebo and the other was significantly more effective than a waitlist control.”

I know it is futile to ask people to read an article before they comment on it, and I know it is equally futile to ask people who submit articles such as this to post links to original articles instead of second or third sources, but here goes: If you are submitting an article about an article in a scientific journal, please include a link to the original article in the original journal instead of a newspaper article based on a press release announcing the publication of the article. Thank you. And if you are drinking from the Firehose and come across something like this, at least vote it down, and better yet, submit a better article to replace it.

Makes some sense it would work too (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754885)

The thing about many problems of the mind is that there are many different reasons a person could have them, and thus different treatments can work on different people. For a number of issues you find that drugs, therapy, etc all have some success, and there is a fair bit of non-overlap (as in one failed, but another succeeded with the same person).

So I could well see a game based therapy working for some people, but not for others.

So wait... (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754141)

You mean it fails 60% of the time?

Re:So wait... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754429)

I actually like when people turn things upside-down, I would appreciate for them to do it more often, to better see the both sides of the issue. So indeed, in about 56% of the cases the treatment fails. Although, that's still almost two times better as the traditional treatment group (where 74% fails). That means it's still useful.

That's my University! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754151)

Can't believe work from my University made it to /. So proud right now!

Re:That's my University! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754303)

Why? Are you somehow involved with the study?

Can it treat the kind of depression you get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754381)

... when you've been turned down by female after female after female?
I mean what's the point of being happy if no female will have you?
Can you pass me that beer?

download link ? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754393)

No, seriously. Reading about something like that is ultra-cool, especially since I now have something to point people towards who are trapped in the "computer games are evil and make you want to go out and shoot people" mindset - but only actually seing the thing with your own eyes is for real.

Re:download link ? (2)

NeverSuchBefore (2613927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754455)

especially since I now have something to point people towards who are trapped in the "computer games are evil and make you want to go out and shoot people" mindset

I think you're putting too much faith in them. No matter what you show them, they're probably going to continue to believe that video games are evil, porn is evil, that both hurt kids, etc. Even if it's all nonsense.

Re:download link ? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754753)

I put trust in me being quite convincing if I have the evidence to support my arguments. That trust isn't baseless, I've basically convinced people of my POV as a job for a couple of years. And one thing I learnt is that argument alone is very weak compared to being able to having something to show.

That's why newspapers print fancy statistics next to complicated things. Most readers will basically blank out after the second complicated word, but a graph going visible in a particular direction is incredibly convincing, no matter how made-up it is, or what it really means. Basically, you could write "quatloos" and "per square ostrich" on the axis and the result would be almost the same.

I'm not sure if that "showing" part works with porn, though. Never tried that one.

Re:download link ? (1)

NeverSuchBefore (2613927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754779)

That trust isn't baseless, I've basically convinced people of my POV as a job for a couple of years.

I was more so referring to religious family organizations who think that things like video games are the devil. No matter how many studies you give them, I'm sure they'd point to a (probably invalid) study that confirms their own views. They're the hardest ones to convince.

I'm not sure if that "showing" part works with porn, though.

That's the more difficult one. With the amount of anti-sex nonsense in America, accurate studies probably cannot easily be performed to begin with.

Games? (1)

jocnouro (2622989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754679)

I am new here what it's all about?

Exactly what's need for depression... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754797)

more time in front of a computer. Brilliant.

Second Life builds social skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39754839)

After I began playing Second Life, I applied some of the skills I developed to the real world to make and keep friends more easily.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>