Virtual Reality psychoeducation for depression

Research Background

Many people with depressive disorders feel alone and misunderstood by those around them. They often experience feelings of self-stigmatization; a negative image about themselves because of their depression. This can also be difficult for loved ones, they often don’t know how to deal with their partner, family member or friend and their depression. A thorough explanation of depression and it’s impact, also called psychoeducation, is very important in the treatment of depression.

The Virtual Reality experience video

At GGZ Delfland, we developed a unique Virtual Reality (VR) depression experience video in collaboration with clients and practitioners, which gives an idea of how someone with a depressive disorder experiences a day, as well as how the relative of the person with depression experiences the day. Using special VR glasses, study participants can look all around them and hear the thoughts out loud of the person in the video. Participants are taken through the day of a woman with depression, experiencing, among other things, the difficulties of starting the day, eating something, and getting yourself to do anything at all. Participants can also experience that same day from the perspective of the partner of the woman with depression, hearing, among other things, how powerless he feels to help her. The combined version of the film is 15 minutes total.

The study

The effect of the experience video on psychoeducation for depression is being conducted at GGZ Delfland, in collaboration with the Amsterdam UMC and UMCG. At this moment we have just started an RCT, in which standard psychoeducation is compared with psychoeducation for depression with the VR video experience. Clients with depression can participate together with a loved one. Questionnaires will be filled out prior to the psychoeducation session which will take place after 1 week and after 10 weeks. Clients will have their level of self-stigma, loneliness, experienced social support and depressive symptoms measured. Quality of life and the perceived burden of caring for the depressed person are measured among loved ones. When the experience video proves to be of added value, more variants of the videos can be developed, e.g. the interaction between a child with depression and a parent, the interaction between two friends of whom one has a depression etc., and can be added to psychoeducation for depression.


GGZ Delfland: Nancy Kramer Freher, promovenda; Martine van Bennekom, Anika Bexkens

Amsterdam UMC: Claudi Bockting

UMCG: Wim Veling

See also

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Grant for VR voicehearing intervention

Chris Geraets receives a €300.000 mental health care fellowship from ZonMw. In the coming 5 years she will use this grant to develop a virtual reality therapy called VR-VOICES for…

First Findings On DiSCoVR Published

First findings on DiSCoVR published

This summer, the first findings on DiSCoVR were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research: Mental Health. This article is about the pilot study on DiSCoVR. The main purpose…

GGz Delfland
Amsterdam UMC