Self Help Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • You are anxious or depressed and you are offered:

    • Medications
    • Therapy with a psychologist
    • Behavior modification
    • Exercise modalities
    • A combination of some or all of the above.

    Typically, that is the scenario for these 2 diagnoses.  Well scientists in the Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) are developing an interactive, multi-media program that will help astronauts to recognize and manage depression - while they are away in space.  As you can imagine, if these people are in space and suddenly develop depression - or anxiety - then the important space mission could become endangered.  Well, scientists are realizing that this "interactive technique" could also be of value to the average person.

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    Think of it as a self-guided way to help yourself.  The way the model might work is to have you go online and answer a series of questions that helps you to self diagnose in a sense.  Once you have a grasp of your problem, the model could then be set up for you to choose from a menu of virtual graphics and video selections including a pre-taped psychologist who offers you a "problem-solving" treatment.  Along the way, you would see the pros and cons of certain decisions you are making in order to solve the problem.  So in a sense, it is a very self directed and self guided type of therapy.

    Prototypes of these models were already tested in remoted stations in Antartica, where workers can be isolated for months at a time and where the possibility of developing depression is quite high - but no diagnostician or therapist is readily available.  Ultimately, the scientists hope to create models of this self-directed depression treatment for a variety of settings especially rural reas, where clinicians are scarce, schools, social service offices, places or worship, military bases world-wide, commercial ships, oil rigs and underwater research centers.  Scientists are also working on models for stress, anxiety, interpersonal conflict and fatigue.

Published On: October 02, 2008