At University College London and ICREA-University of Barcelona researchers have shown that virtual reality can be used a therapy tool for helping people with clinical depression improve how they assess and critique themselves. The technology involves wearing an immersive headset and seeing the world through the eyes of another person, a digital avatar, with a different looking body.

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First the volunteer patients were made to virtually exist as an adult while there was a virtual crying child nearby asking for attention. After calming down the baby, the patients were then switched to see the world through the eyes of that same baby, experiencing the adult avatar that they were through a different perspective. These sessions were repeated three times per week.

A month following the treatment course, nine of the fifteen volunteers reported at least some amelioration in depressive symptoms, while four of those saw clinically significant improvement in how they saw themselves.

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