Women

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Play time: Games to beat the blues

Talk therapy isn’t the only help for depressed children.

A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as traditional talk therapy, researchers from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) reported in the British Medical Journal.

Description: Description: A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as traditional talk therapy

A computer game designed to lift teenagers out of depression is as effective as traditional talk therapy

Researchers tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on young people diagnosed with depression. Sparx sees participants tackling a series of seven challenges, over four to seven weeks, where an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones.

Researchers found that Sparx was at least as effective as conventional face-to-face counseling. In addition, 44 percent of the participants who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In contrast, in the conventional treatment group, only 26 percent recovered fully.

“Use of the programme resulted in a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and hopelessness. The kids also had an improvement in quality of life,” said study leader Sally Merry, an associate professor at the university’s Department of Psychological Medicine.

The youngsters, who had an average age of 15 and a half, rated the game hightly, saying the liked being able to use it at home and to learn at their own pace.

I’ve got you baby

Description: Description: Making music makes babies less anxious and enhances brain development

Making music makes babies less anxious and enhances brain development

Making music makes babies less anxious and enhances brain development, according to a study from McMaster University (Canada). Researchers studied 50 six-month-old infants – some were placed in special music classes, while others weren’t. By age 1, those toddlers who’d been taught musical skills showed increased brain activity and musical skills. These infants were also not as distressed by frustration, showed less anxiety about new experiences, laughed more and were easier to calm. They also had better early communication development – like waving “bye-bye”.

Beware The Sweet Poison

A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles, is the first to demonstrate how a high-fructose diet slows the brain, hampering memory and learning.

Description: Description: omega-3 fatty acids

omega-3 fatty acids

It also showed that omega-3 fatty acids can help minimize the damage. “What you eat affects how you think,” said study leader Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. His team researched the effect of the high-fructose corn syrup that is commonly added to processed foods, including fizzy drinks.

Keep fructose intake to a minimum and swap sugary desserts for fresh berries and Greek yoghurt, advise Gomez-Pinilla. Also eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts.

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