CD-Rom treats the blues

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The Independent Online
DEPRESSED? Just a little unhappy? Well, forget Prozac - have a CD-Rom instead.

The disks are the latest NHS treatment for patients suffering from depression. Instead of seeing a doctor or therapist, sufferers will be given an appointment to use the disk and told to do what it tells them for the next two months.

Britain's first computer-based psychiatric treatment is being pioneered in 20 GPs' surgeries in Manchester and Essex. A CD-Rom titled Beating the Blues is designed to treat patients suffering from panic attacks and anxiety as well as depression.

Patients visiting their GP are prescribed eight one-hour sessions of computer therapy. The CD-Rom, installed on a computer housed in its own office at each of the surgeries, questions them about their problems and then tells them about classic cases of depression.

Through a series of questions and answers normally asked a doctor or therapist, the disk aims to teach patients how to change their lives and deal with problems in the future.