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Coming soon: Self-guided, computer-based depression treatment
Date:9/24/2008

ychological problems, the environment is very demanding," Buckey said. "On a mission, they face a lot of challenges that could lead to depression."

Buckey, a professor and physician at Dartmouth Medical School, said the depression module and other aspects of the Virtual Space Station are based upon proven methods. "These are unique NSBRI products that did not exist before," Buckey said. "The Virtual Space Station is based on proven treatment programs and is a very helpful way to work on problems in general."

The system's multi-media approach for depression includes graphics and video featuring a psychologist who leads the user through a straightforward process called Problem-Solving Treatment. The system provides feedback based upon the information provided when answering a series of questions.

The first step of the process is to make a problem list and select a problem on which to work. The second and third steps are setting goals and brainstorming ways to reach them. The final two steps are assessing the pros and cons of possible solutions and making an action plan to implement them. The program also helps users plan and schedule enjoyable activities, which people who have depression often stop doing. Additionally, the program provides preventative and educational information on depression.

Cartreine and Buckey, who received input from 29 current and former astronauts while designing the Virtual Space Station, said some of the system's other benefits include its portability and privacy. "It can be delivered to the International Space Station on a flash drive and run directly from that drive, so that the astronaut has complete control over his or her data," Cartreine said. "The system is private and secure. The user is the only one who can share the information with others."

An early version of the depression treatment system was beta-tested on research stations in Antarctica, which is used as an analog to long-duration
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Contact: Brad Thomas
rbthomas@bcm.edu
713-798-7595
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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