Research highlight

Psychology: Treating geriatric depression with computerised therapy

Nature Communications

August 6, 2014

The symptoms of some sufferers of treatment-resistant geriatric depression can be alleviated with specially designed computer games, reports a study in Nature Communications this week. These findings indicate that some forms of behavioural therapy may provide realistic measures for treating clinical depression.

Clinical depression affects a large number of older adults and while psychotherapy and drugs are effective measures in some individuals, many are resistant to these treatments. For these individuals, there is currently an unmet need for more effective treatments.

Sarah Shizuko Morimoto and colleagues created computerised cognitive training programs to train 11 older, treatment-resistant adults (60 to 89 years old), to improve aspects of learning and memory. They find the computerised cognitive training programs improve symptoms to the same degree as the gold standard drug treatment, escitalopram, in patients who failed to show improvement with conventional antidepressants.

While researchers indicate that a full clinical study would be needed to confirm these findings, they hope that this study will promote more research into alternative therapies for clinical depression.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms5579

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