Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Depression: Young People Respond Well To Computer Based Intervention

Source: BMJ

Read The Original Research Article Here

A computerized self help intervention may help adolescents who suffer from depression. The specialized computer therapy acts much the same way as they do from one-to-one therapy with a clinician, according to a study published on BMJ.

Depression is common in adolescents, but many are reluctant to seek professional help. So researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, set out to assess whether a new innovative computerized cognitive behavioral therapy intervention called SPARX could reduce depressive symptoms as much as usual care can.

SPARX is an interactive 3D fantasy game where a single user undertakes a series of challenges to restore balance in a virtual world dominated by GNATs (Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts). It contains seven modules designed to be completed over a four to seven week period. Usual care mostly involved face-to-face counseling by trained clinicians.

The research team carried out a randomized controlled trial in 24 primary healthcare sites across New Zealand. All 187 adolescents were between the ages of 12 and 19, were seeking help for mild to moderate depression and were deemed in need of treatment by primary healthcare clinicians. One group underwent face-to-face treatment as usual and the other took part in SPARX.

Participants were followed up for three months and results were based on several widely used mental health and quality of life scales.

Results showed that SPARX was as effective as usual care in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety by at least a third. In addition significantly more people recovered completely in the SPARX group (31/69 (44%) of those who completed at least four homework modules in the SPARX group compared with 19/83 (26%) in usual care).

When questioned on satisfaction, 76/80 (95%) of SPARX users who replied said they believed it would appeal to other teenagers with 64/80 (81%) recommending it to friends. Satisfaction was, however, equally high in the group that had treatment as usual.

The authors conclude that SPARX is an “effective resource for help seeking adolescents with depression at primary healthcare sites. Use of the program resulted in a clinically significant reduction in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness and an improvement in quality of life.” They suggest that it is a potential alternative to usual care and could be used to address unmet demand for treatment. It may also be a cheaper alternative to usual care and be potentially more easily accessible to young people with depression in primary healthcare settings.

Read The Original Research Article Here

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April 21, 2012 Posted by | Adolescence, Bullying, Child Behavior, depression, mood, research, Technology, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Why Soccer (Football) IS A “Real Man’s” Game :)


Via Medical News Today

Read The Original Research Article Here

Soccer fans’ testosterone and cortisol levels go up when watching a game, but don’t further increase after a victory, according to a study published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

The study was conducted with 50 Spanish soccer fans watching the finals between Spain and the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup. The researchers, led by Leander van der Meij of the University of Valencia in Spain and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, measured testosterone and cortisol levels for fans of different ages, genders, and degree of interest in the game. They found that the increase in testosterone was independent of all these factors, but the increase in cortisol level was more pronounced for dedicated, young, male fans.

The authors write that the testosterone effect is in agreement with the “challenge hypothesis,” as testosterone levels increased to prepare for the game, and the cortisol effect is consistent with the “social self-preservation theory,” as higher cortisol secretion among young and greater soccer fans suggests that they perceived a particularly strong threat to their own social esteem if their team didn’t win.

Read The Original Research Article Here

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April 20, 2012 Posted by | Cognition, Exercise, mood, research, Sex & Sexuality, stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

40 Superb Psychology Blogs from Psyblog UK

I’ve had so may retweets of this find from Psyblog at that I’ve decided to repost it here. This is a great list. Enjoy!


Forty of the best psychology blogs, chosen to give you a broad sweep of the most interesting content being produced online right now.

The list is split into three sections: first are more general psychological blogs, followed by those with an academic slant, followed by condition specific and patient perspective blogs. Other than that the blogs are presented in no particular order:


  1. MindHacks: links to psychological goodness from all around the web.
  2. Cognitive Daily: in-depth coverage of cognitive psychology research.
  3. The Last Psychiatrist: thoughtful, iconoclastic perspective from a practising psychiatrist.
  4. Channel N: brain and behaviour videos.
  5. BPS Research Digest: accessibly covers new psychological research.
  6. Encephalon: neuroscience/psychology ‘blog carnival’.
  7. Neurophilosophy: about molecules, minds and everything inbetween.
  8. Neuromarketing: brain science in marketing and sales.
  9. PsychCentral Blog: team blog, focusing more on clinical topics: depression, anxiety etc..
  10. The Situationist: links to articles on social psychology.
  11. We’re Only Human: journalist Wray Herbert writes about the quirks of human nature.
  12. Psychology Today Blogs: ‘essential reads’ from Psychology Today’s stable of bloggers.
  13. The Frontal Cortex: by author and journalist Jonah Lehrer.
  14. All In The Mind Blog: companion to good Australian radio show covering mind matters.
  15. Frontier Psychiatrist: anonymous London-based psychiatrist critical of the profession.
  16. Neuronarrative: psychology with a public health slant.
  17. Jena Pincott: science of love, sex and attraction.
  18. Research Blogging: posts collected from variety of blogs but all peer-reviewed research.
  19. In the News: forensic psychologist Karen Franklin on the intersection between psychology and law.
  20. The Mouse Trap: musings on cognitive and developmental psychology.
  21. The Trouble with Spikol: mental health policy issues discussed by writer Liz Spikol.
  22. Bad Science: Covers more than psychology but Dr Ben Goldacre is such good value we’ll let him off.
  23. PsyBlog: In case you didn’t notice, the blog you’re reading right now!
  24. More academic:

  25. Dr Petra Boynton: sex educator and academic exposes media misrepresentations of science.
  26. Babel’s Dawn: exploring the origins of language.
  27. The Neurocritic: anonymous, critical, mischievous.
  28. Advances in the History of Psychology: it’s all in the title.
  29. Deric Bounds’ MindBlog: biological view of the brain from an Emeritus Professor.
  30. Brain Stimulant: neurotechnology methods of brain stimulation.
  31. Social Psychology Eye: written by contributors to the journal Social and Personality Psychology Compass.
  32. Child Psychology Research Blog: by clinical child psychologist, an expert on mood disorders.
  33. Condition specific/patient perspective blogs:

  34. Panic!: writer who’s been dealing with panic disorder for 20 years.
  35. The Tangled Neuron: layperson reports on memory loss, Alzheimer’s & dementia.
  36. Furious Seasons: journalist with bipolar disorder who rattles the cage of Big Pharma.
  37. Beyond Blue: author provides guidance on how to get through depression.
  38. Walking the Black Dog: one person’s battle with ‘the black dog’.
  39. Postpartum Progress: advocate for women, Katherine Stone, on postpartum mental health problems.
  40. The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive: Seaneen is a twenty-three year old Irish girl writing about her life.
  41. Autism Blog: autism research described by Lisa Jo Rudy, who has first-hand experience of the condition.
  42. The Reality of Anxiety: Aimee, who suffers from social anxiety, promoting understanding of the condition



July 27, 2009 Posted by | Resources | , , , , , , | 3 Comments