Because of its high prevalence rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers stress to be the health pandemic of the twenty-first century. Although accurate data on anxiety is difficult to get, statistics indicate that it affects between 5% and 10% of the population, with women being disproportionately afflicted. Numbers from 2015 show that 3.6 percent of the world’s population suffered from anxiety disorders.
This indicates that about one in ten people suffers from anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, there is an increase in their visibility, as anxiety is less and less of a taboo subject, indicating a positive trend. A strange and noteworthy fact is that people look up the phrase anxiety up to ten times more than the term depression, indicating interest in these conditions and the desire for individuals to discover remedies and relieve the accompanying unpleasantness.
Technology, which is frequently cited as one of the elements that contribute to stress in modern life, may also be a great instrument for better managing stress and treating symptomatology. Because of its high immersion capability, virtual reality (VR) has amassed a large body of therapeutic data for helping patients with various anxiety disorders.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality refers to the use of technology to construct virtual worlds that give the user the sensation of being immersed in them. These environments (3D designs or genuine movies) are multisensory (visual and audio) and are built with the goal of treating various psychological illnesses. The goal is to create a sensation of presence in the patient so that they feel the same emotions and have the same thoughts and behaviors as they would in real life.
Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety Disorders or Stress
According to studies, virtual reality applications can be effective aids for relieving stress and anxiety. VR therapy is a totally immersive experience that can help regulate the nervous system, shifting it from a very stressful environment to a parasympathetic state of relaxation and ease. Furthermore, it can give the ‘over-thinking brain’ an enjoyable distraction.
The best part is, that you can get anxiety treatment at home with VR. Based on your specific needs, your personal therapist will develop a customized treatment plan for you. This might comprise a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other modalities, as well as VR treatment employing digitized imagery within a VR headset. You’ll be retraining your brain to relax while you play games. Many of the activities taught in the programs may be used outside of the virtual environment. Even if you don’t have your headset with you, you may practice.
Advantages of therapy with virtual reality vs. traditional therapies
When we compare virtual reality therapy to traditional therapy with the use of imagination, we can say with confidence that it is much more immersive (with more sensory power). It gives the therapist more control (they see the same thing as the patient at all times), and with biofeedback, we have the possibility of tracking the sessions and making changes in the therapy.
When compared to a live display, it has lesser expenses and more logistical simplicity, and the patient can be more reactive because it is a controlled atmosphere. Consider treatment of a phobia: the patient will feel considerably more at ease in the controlled environment of a consultation.
In terms of therapy efficacy, clinical research demonstrates that intervention using virtual reality is more effective than imagination exposure and as effective as live exposure.
For all of this, VR provides patients with more effective, quicker, and less expensive therapies. Simultaneously, the prospect of receiving objective statistics on their progress stimulates and strengthens their adherence.
The days of seeing virtual reality just as a form of entertainment are long gone. Today, technologies are reaching a new level, graphic quality is rising dramatically, and technology is acquiring more and more autonomy, allowing you to feel the most immersed in a separate environment. As a result, VR is now a full-fledged tool for a diverse variety of projects, including educational and therapeutic ones.
VR therapy will not always be able to substitute traditional therapeutic approaches. However, even as an additional therapy, it provides intriguing benefits above traditional therapies alone.