One of the hottest trends in the tech space nowadays is Virtual Reality or VR as it has finally entered the consumer electronic space with models like the Oculus Rift. Though VR was first developed during the 1960s, it took nearly six decades for it to come through to the general public and with the advent of highly powerful smartphone with which we can attach our VR headsets to, we can now finally look for more feasible applications for it and take it further out than just relegating it to the gamer’s world.
Now scientists and medical practitioners are seeing the benefits of VR in tackling mental health issues and psychological problems in a much more pronounced way and the results have been highly encouraging. A study published recently by Cambridge reviewed all of the previous research publications that intended to assess and understand the application of VR in treating mental health problems. The report reviewed 285 studies and found that VR has the most potential to be used as a tool in treating mental problems like anxiety and phobias while the results for other similar issues like PSTD were also promising.
VR’s prowess in relieving mental health problems and more importantly the ones which involve some form of exposure to situational conditions lies in its ability to create stimulating environments in front of the patients which inadvertently helps in gaining better results from the treatment. Psychological difficulties like anxiety are often overridden by the individual’s fear over a certain situation, like for e.g. going out in public due to a negative body image and VR can help create that same situation within the clinic where the doctor or psychologists can then act as a guide to help the patient get relieved of fear from that very situation which acts as a trigger for problems like anxiety.
Medical Professionals have long known that exposure to the trigger situation can help the patient in the best manner when problems like anxiety are in question and that the effect of other treatment options like counseling is limited at best. VR has proven to be a game changer in the mental health arena and is already poised to make a huge difference in the field as more and more powerful and complex situations are supported with the difficulty level getting graded and controlled by the medical professional as per the prevalent condition of the patient.
VR is also more acceptable to patients as a treatment option because most people would resist going out in a certain real life situation that might trigger a mental disturbance in them, but putting on a headset inside the comfort of a clinic is more comforting and relaxing.
More research is required to further substantiate these claims and make VR an important part of treating other more common forms of mental problems like depression so that the technology could be utilized to serve as one of the first renditions of a major tech tool that made it big in the medical arena.