Virtual Reality in Mental Health Therapy

When you think of Virtual Reality, you will most likely picture video game enthusiasts strapping in for an immersive gaming experience.

Undoubtedly, the video gaming industry was one of the first to adopt this new form of technology, but it’s not the only sector where this tech thrives. We should expect to see VR casino games on leading iGaming platforms as well.

So that next time you want to relish Live table games at , be ready to immerse into the world of simulated reality. In fact, some iGaming sites have offered such mesmerizing experiences for their patrons for the last couple of years.

Outside gaming-related sectors, if you examine it further, you will discover that the computer-generated content in VR technology can be used in various other areas, including healthcare.

Medical practitioners have found ways to keep up with a changing world and to take advantage of emerging technologies to improve the delivery of services and approaches to different medical challenges and disorders.

One of the medical areas that have immensely benefited from the usage of Virtual Reality technologies is mental health.

Psychologists and psychiatrists have stumbled upon some ground-breaking solutions to different mental conditions thanks to research into the possible applications of VR in mental health treatment.

Major Applications of VR in Mental Healthcare

As more research is conducted, simulated reality is emerging as a promising tool to be used in mental well-being treatment.

The technology offers doctors unique opportunities to create immersive experiences specific to individual patients and their disorders. Here are some ways in which VR is being used to treat mental health disorders:

Exposure Therapy

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) is one of the ways patients with anxiety disorders have been helped to overcome their fears.

The idea is to expose patients to stimuli and scenarios that trigger their fears or disorders, eventually helping them find ways to cope with and manage their symptoms.

The patient here repeatedly confronts their fears in a controlled environment. Some common phobias and disorders that have been addressed through VR include:

  • fear of flying;
  • public speaking;
  • heights;
  • recovery from PTSD;
  • depression;
  • panic disorder.

For example, individuals with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have greatly benefited from VRET.

Here, traumatic situations are recreated in a safe space where veterans and other trauma victims can safely face their sources of anxiety without reacting intensely like in a real-life situation.

Doctors then guide patients through a desensitization process, helping them overcome some severe past traumas.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation

In today’s world, many people feel like they are in a constant war to stay sane and still get important things done.

As such, there comes a time when they may need to unwind without spending too much of their waking hours.

This is where VR comes in, as it can create simulations with calming environments and assist people to relax and let out any built-up stress.

The relaxation can be in the form of guided mindfulness exercises or tranquil simulations with soothing sounds.

These techniques can also be applied to meditation sessions where visually appealing environments are created, helping individuals to focus on the present rather than outside stimuli.

Cognitive Training and Rehabilitation

Some disorders are genetic, but they can be controlled through effective management, and their effects are kept at a minimum.

Through VR, doctors manage symptoms in conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) through rehabilitative therapy and cognitive training programs.

Social Skills Training

Social anxiety is common today, especially given that most people are stuck in a work-home-work loop where there is minimal interaction with the outside world.

With VR-based social training, patients with social anxiety, including those on the autism spectrum, can be helped to acquire social skills through constant exposure to realistic situations where immediate feedback is received.

Pain Management

Chronic pain can take a toll on a patient’s mental condition, and VR can help redirect attention to immersive virtual realities that work on the brain to reduce pain perception.

Acute pain during procedures can also be managed by distracting the patient with guided techniques through simulated reality technologies.

More Hope for the Future of VR

In recent years, emerging technologies have proved to be effective in solving challenges that arise in the modern world. Additionally, technologies like VR are continuously being improved upon and, as a result, always carry more potential with time.

The concept of Virtual Reality has been evolving to incorporate multiple features that work to develop the technology further.

Research is still underway to ensure that the maximum benefits for mental disorders are achieved in the long run.

Since the technology is already providing less expensive alternatives to therapy and patient-tailored interventions, the strides made so far give hope for what is yet to come.

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