Using virtual reality technology to treat anxiety and other psychiatric disorders

3 min read

Virtual reality, or VR, allows users to experience a sense of presence in a 3D computer environment. Sensory information transmitted through monitors inside the glasses and sensors that monitor head movements so that the movements and images vary naturally according to the head movement, allowing for a sensory sensation.

Virtual reality enables controlled therapy of sensory stimulation by the therapist. The point of this article is to review the existing literature on the efficacy of virtual reality integration as part of the psychiatric treatment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders, with a specific emphasis on anxiety-based exposure to anxiety disorders.

After successful experiments, the researchers concluded that virtual reality-based treatment for anxiety or psychiatric disorders works, and in the future the technology can provide the therapist with real-time information on, treatments, psychiatric research, recommendations on how to integrate virtual reality therapy and future directions into clinical research-based methods and therapies.

anxiety disorder

They base the treatment of modern exposure on emotional processing theory, which holds that fear memories are structures that contain information about fear stimuli, responses, and meaning. The goal of the intervention is to activate and change these fear structures by introducing additional information that is incompatible with the situation and facilitating emotional processing.

Virtual reality-based techniques are ideal for handling exposure, as the sense of virtual reality provides the patient with an important environment tailored to deal with the specific aspects of their fear structures in order to activate and change these structures.

A major part of virtual reality therapy research done for anxiety disorders, and usually, the results suggest that virtual reality has a large effect on anxiety symptoms, 12 experimenters have showed that virtual reality has a strong impact on "real" life, and a study found that the results last longer and work The patient more quickly, the use of virtual reality for specific anxiety disorders will also reviewed later.

Benefits of using virtual reality for psychiatric research and treatment

In traditional therapy, the success of the treatment depends on the patient's ability to visualize specific stimuli. Virtual reality actually eliminates this barrier in patients who may experience difficulties in imagination or visualization.

Exposures to virtual reality to treat anxiety (e.g., something like, actual flight) or something difficult to do (e.g., fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan) can save on expenses and a cheap approach that allows you to build all the scenarios, providing an opportunity to manipulate treatment in ways that were impossible to date, Such as repeating a virtual flight several times.

Using virtual reality can influence the dosage and specific aspects of the exposure environment to suit the individual patient's concerns, for example, if a patient is in fear of aircraft, the therapist can do endless therapeutic simulations, the use of virtual reality technology allows to keep confidentiality while performing exposures.

The findings of the many studies in virtual reality show the success and cooperation of patients who report satisfaction with virtual reality-based treatment. It is important to note that patients prefer the treatment of virtual reality more than traditional approaches. They conducted the sample on 150 patients with specific phobias, and the refusal rate for virtual reality exposure was lower than usual (27%), suggesting that virtual reality-based exposure is more comfortable for patients.

In addition, 19% of those who reported being unwilling to speak with a personal counselor reported their willingness to use virtual reality for a mental and healthy approach, so virtual reality may face some treatment barriers.

In virtual reality there are benefits to conducting psychiatric research. The ability to control the dose of exposure and stimulation of the patient answers the possibility of conducting incredibly controlled clinical and experimental research. For example, in the first human study to test the efficacy of D-cycloserine combination with exposure therapy, 21 study participants received exactly the same exposure to virtual heights, and data relevant to the VRE treatment process can also be collected (e.g., used stimuli, Exposure time). For example, or skill tests or drugs designed to reduce stress and anxiety, the enormous advantage is that they can test the patient without exposing him to risk.

While virtual reality provides many benefits, in the past, technology and costs were very expensive and there were significant disadvantages to virtual reality in a clinical setting.

 Virtual reality has been very expensive in the past, but in recent years prices have dropped over time, and yes, there is already a lot of content and also smart phone based technologies. And while technology continues to improve, of malfunction and a higher chance of better features for the user than in the past, so the additional potential drawback is the need for virtual reality training before clinical used to ensure effective use of technology in competent clinical care.

Treatment course for Virtual Reality Experiences (VRE)

Virtual Reality Experiences is a therapeutic course that uses virtual reality as a substitute for the actual cause (acronym. VRE) and usually begins with 2-3 initial sessions discussing psychoeducation about the specific disorder, psychosocial history, overview of avoidance and reasoning for exposures, and the process of exposure. On virtual reality in many VRE therapies that also include some relaxation and / or coping strategies during this familiarization period, breathing or cognitive restructuring. Typically, all subsequent sessions include virtual reality exposure where the patient progresses at a personal pace through a graded exposure hierarchy.

Soon the following articles will come up about virtual reality:

The method of using virtual reality (soon to be written)

Specific Phobias in Virtual Reality (article soon)

Social Anxiety Disorder in Virtual Reality (article soon)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Virtual Reality (article soon)

Panic and Agoraphobia in Virtual Reality (article soon)

Generalized anxiety disorder in virtual reality (article soon)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder in virtual reality (article soon)

Schizophrenia in virtual reality (soon to be written)

Acute and chronic pain in virtual reality (article soon)

Addiction to Virtual Reality (article soon)

Eating Pathology in Virtual Reality (Coming Soon)

Virtual Reality Autism (article soon)

Recommendations on how to integrate VR into virtual reality psychiatric treatment (article soon)

Future directions for VR-based therapy and clinical research in virtual reality (article soon)

Conclusions and Summary of the entire topic (article soon)

The article was written by Amit Caesar virtual reality expert in Israel from 2013, for more details contact us at 972 + 09-8320-333