Social anxiety? Healing in virtual reality

new experience, Posted in JMIR Mental Health , tested the effects of virtual reality (VR)-based exposure therapy on patients with social anxiety disorder. Results? Brilliant: Patients showed less social anxiety and negative thoughts after treatment, and they associated more positive words with themselves.

Ji Won Hur, the study’s principal investigator, had a specific goal. We set out to explore the effectiveness of virtual reality therapy in treating a specific aspect of social anxiety disorder (SAD). This side is called Self reference therapyIt works differently in people with social anxiety disorder.

The first stage of the research

Initially, participants performed a self-reference processing task under functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). All of them were presented with neutral, positive or negative words. The patients were then asked to choose words that they found relevant to themselves.

As a result of this test, patients with social anxiety disorder participated in six multi-step virtual reality therapy sessions, each with varying degrees of difficulty. They were placed in disturbing scenarios where they had to introduce themselves to others.

We believe that our findings may contribute to a better understanding of the therapeutic efforts of virtual reality-based interventions, which can be included in the routine treatment of social anxiety disorder.

Excerpt from the search

In the image are the areas of the brain that are activated by the various “social encounters” simulated in virtual reality.

Hey, social anxiety gone

After completion of treatment, patients underwent fMRI again while performing a subsequent self-referral treatment task.

It was found that by examining the data, patients with social anxiety disorder showed greater activity in certain parts of the brain during therapy activity after undergoing the VR therapy treatment. Patients’ frontal, temporal and occipital lobes are activated.

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This would be a good use of virtual reality, albeit very symbolic: we fear it might alienate us, and instead it starts by bringing people together.

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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