Can virtual reality help people with depression?

Some Americans suffer from a depression that keeps them from feeling any pleasure, called anhedonia. Can virtual reality help them? Stat News reports on research testing this proposition.

Many of us feel thrills and joy from flying down a ski slope, snorkeling in coral reefs, watching a football game or simply taking a walk in the park. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Michelle Craske is testing whether exposure to these types of thrills through virtual reality can help people with anhedonia to appreciate the good things in life and feel pleasure.

Craske calls the treatment positive affect therapy. After exposing a person to a pleasurable experience through virtual reality, she talks to the patient about the experience in extreme detail. She might talk to a person about the sights, sounds, physical and emotional responses and much more. Some of her patients say they feel less depressed. Their mood improves.

What’s particularly interesting about Craske’s approach is that it focuses on helping patients engage in positive activities in order to feel pleasure. Traditional treatment for depression focus on negative symptoms like anxiety and sadness. But, both focus on helping patients change the way they feel and behave.

The jury’s out as to whether virtual reality can really help. But, there’s lots of research underway. And, there’s some evidence that virtual reality can ease social anxiety and some phobias.
This article was first published on JustCareUSA.org.


Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org

Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org

Diane Archer is founder and CEO of JustCareUSA.org, a digital platform for baby boomers and carers. She began her career in health advocacy in 1989 as the founder and president of the Medicare Rights Center.


Did you find this article helpful?


Latest News

Dangerous Hand Sanitizer and Twitter to Inform Doctors

Dangerous Hand Sanitizer and Twitter to Inform Doctors

Good morning, and welcome to the start of another week. It turns out that Twitter may be useful beyond giving purpose to internet trolls. Also, you may want to put down your phone for a minute and check to see which hand sanitizer you have — because some are now…

Another Study Claims Hydroxychloroquine Can Fight COVID-19

Another Study Claims Hydroxychloroquine Can Fight COVID-19

A new study is claiming that a cocktail of the mineral zinc, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, and the antibiotic azithromycin lead to fewer hospitalizations and deaths in patients with COVID-19.  Of 518 COVID-19 patients who were not hospitalized, 2.8% of those who were treated with the combination therapy were hospitalized…

  • Advertisement