We are all wired to recall terrifying events like accidents or the death of a loved one and these may cause us untold suffering, resulting in sleepless nights, nightmares, anxiety attacks etc. This normally happens for a period of time with the effects progressively reducing in frequency and intensity.
In certain cases though, these symptoms seem to get worse with time and take a toll on a person’s day-to-day life. This is referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and usually needs professional intervention. There are many forms of therapy used by experts to assist patients with this condition and one of the most successful techniques is known as VR Immersion Therapy.
What is VR Immersion Therapy?
Virtual reality immersion therapy is the placement of a patient in a computer-controlled 3-dmensional space where they are exposed to their fears and gradually taught to handle them. This is done in the presence of a qualified therapist who is able to assess the reactions of the patient and control the experience accordingly.
How does it Work?
It involves a series of sessions during which the patient is exposed to different “levels”of the terrifying experience. On each of the levels, the intensity of the experience is adjusted, and the client is assisted to control their reaction until they reach a reasonable point. This allows them to move to the next level.
The best part about this technique is that if at any point the patient feels uncomfortable and unable to proceed, the therapist will either transfer them into a more comfortable virtual location or end the session altogether. The therapist is then able to pinpoint the precise set of circumstances that could be causing a patient anxiety and now tailors the session to the point of making them comfortable in that setting.
Treatment for PTSD
Repeated exposure in a controlled environment to the various triggers of anxiety for PTSD patients has been shown to be very effective on helping them deal with their various fears. With time their memories of the terrifying experience become less vivid and the brain is then unable to rouse up the emotional and/or physical responses previously associated with the event.
One of the main advantages of this kind of therapy is that unlike the conventional pharmacological treatments for PTSD, VR Immersion Therapy has no side effects.Additionally, the exposure to virtual reality is controlled and monitored by trained therapists ensuring the patient’s comfort and physical safety at all times. Moreover, each patient gets a personalized experience with this form of therapy as opposed to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach. It has a remarkably high success rate, is completely confidential, and non-invasive making it highly popular among patients of PTSD.
The cost is also significantly lower than that of other similar forms of therapy like In Vivo Exposure.
What the Future Holds
The various triggers of anxiety and mental health disorders are ever on the rise. Patients need a surefire technique to help them through these debilitating conditions because their lives are otherwise brought to a complete halt. The use of Virtual Reality exposure continues to hold promise to all who might be suffering in silence from the draining effects of PTSD.