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How VR Therapy Helps Veterans Overcome PTSD

Image shows the benefits of VR Therapy.

Any emotionally painful event or experience can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an illness affecting millions worldwide.

It can lead to serious emotional issues and make it difficult for a person to lead a functional life.

Virtual reality therapy is one remedy for people living with PTSD. With VR technology, patients can experience terrible memories in a realistic setting while wearing special goggles and headphones.

There are proposals to use virtual reality therapy with military veterans due to its success in treating PTSD. This therapy uses virtual reality to treat individuals who are going through mental health issues.

Key Takeaways

Veterans with PTSD can benefit from VRT, a therapy that uses virtual reality technology to help patients concentrate and interact with their surroundings.

  • VR enables PTSD patients to explore situations without fear of physical or mental injury.
  • In VRT, veterans wear specialized glasses or goggles that display scenes from their past, present, or future.
  • VR can assist people with PTSD in concentrating on particular memories or situations, understanding the traumatic experience that led to their PTSD, and coping with the associated feelings.
  • VRT can assist PTSD-affected veterans in learning effective coping mechanisms. 

If you are a veteran and are facing PTSD, virtual reality treatment might be right for you. Contact The Recovery Team at (800) 817-1247 to learn more about the treatment process.

What is Virtual Reality Therapy?

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can benefit from virtual reality treatment, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that uses a virtual environment to help them focus.

VR can simulate traumatic events and scenes from the veteran’s life. The therapist leads the patient through the setting, offering assistance and criticism as necessary.

Through proper treatment, PTSD symptoms, including intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares, can be reduced. VR therapy has been demonstrated to raise mood and quality of life.

Although research on VR therapy’s long-term efficacy is ongoing, preliminary findings are encouraging.

How Virtual Reality Therapy Works

Virtual reality therapy uses computer-generated sights and sounds to create a simulated world where patients can explore their thoughts and emotions. People with PTSD, anxiety and depression benefit from this treatment.

Virtual reality therapy’s ability to examine unpleasant memories without requiring patients to physically travel to the scene is one of its key advantages. Patients can process their memories in a secure setting thanks to virtual reality.

Virtual reality treatment can also assist patients in understanding how their feelings and actions relate to the traumatic incident.

The user wears special headphones or goggles that display noises and images from the virtual environment. The user then engages with the surroundings to simulate being in a risky or stressful position, this time with the coping mechanisms taught by their therapist. 

Virtual reality serves as a training ground for real-world trauma triggers. 

Virtual Reality for PTSD

For those individuals who are going through PTSD, VR therapy proves helpful in returning them to a life without flashbacks or other trauma responses. 

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. Physical harm, sexual assault, and serious illnesses are a few things that can bring on PTSD. Having a horrific event happen to you or someone you love can potentially result in PTSD.

For months or years after the incident, PTSD can induce severe fear and anxiety. It might hinder your capacity to conduct typical daily activities. Flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD might occur.

According to research, VR therapy is more helpful in treating substance abuse disorders than traditional treatment methods. As many sufferers of PTSD turn to substance abuse to self-medicate, VR therapy proves doubly effective. 

This therapy also helps individuals by reducing the medicines used during the treatment. It has been demonstrated that virtual reality therapy is more successful at treating PTSD than conventional approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

With the help of CBT, patients can learn to alter the thoughts and actions connected to their symptoms. CBT alone does not always work to treat PTSD, though.

Virtual reality treatment may be more successful than other types of therapy for PTSD because it gives veterans a genuine opportunity to face their symptoms in a controlled environment.

During traditional therapy, patients are asked to discuss their symptoms in the abstract, compared to the direct confrontation of their fears in VR therapy. 

Causes of PTSD Among Veterans

The United States has the largest veteran population in the world and a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) epidemic. Although there is no one specific cause of PTSD, exposure to violence, abuse, or natural disasters frequently contributes to the disorder.

Here are some common causes of PTSD:

Accidents

Any deadly event, such as a serious injury or accident, can lead to PTSD. As per the study by the National Institute of Mental Health, most PTSD sufferers experienced or witnessed a traumatic event that was intense and life-threatening.

Childhood or Domestic Abuse

Domestic or childhood abuse can also be the cause of PTSD. Long-term changes are made in brain functioning, making it difficult for an individual in their childhood to deal with traumatic events and stress later on.

Childhood abuse can also lead to serious physical and mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. These mental health illnesses can ultimately cause PTSD.

PTSD can also result from domestic violence. Women who experience domestic violence are more likely to develop PTSD than those who do not experience any domestic violence.

About one out of five women and one in ten men who encounter military sexual trauma develop PTSD at some time in their lives, per the National Institute of Mental Health.

Traumatic Experience

Any traumatic incident has the potential to result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

PTSD typically develops slowly at first, getting worse over time. These symptoms and signs can last for months or even years.

These symptoms also affect an individual’s capability to perform any activity or function. Some PTSD-affected veterans may find it difficult to precisely discuss or recall the incident.

Receiving care and putting up with the symptoms may be challenging. While some people find counseling beneficial, others choose to use self-care strategies like relaxation techniques or targeted stress reduction activities.

How VR Therapy Helps Veterans Deal with PTSD

Virtual reality therapy helps veterans who have PTSD confront triggers in controlled and safe simulations that can help them in their concentration and involvement. To avoid relapse, veterans can incorporate VR into their usual therapy strategy. 

Veterans who receive VR therapy experience the following advantages:

Practice Coping Strategies 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects a large number of military veterans. Traumatic flashbacks, excruciating anxiety, and obsessive thoughts are all symptoms of the severe mental condition known as PTSD. 

Unfortunately, a lot of veterans have trouble getting their symptoms under control.

Virtual reality treatment, however, could be able to help. Through immersive technology, virtual reality treatment immerses patients in various situations where they can feel secure and in control of their emotions.

Virtual therapy is the best evidence-based approach to treating PTSD and other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Veterans with PTSD who utilized virtual reality therapy in a recent study demonstrated notable increases in their focus and involvement with life.

Additionally, they demonstrated a decrease in symptoms like anxiety and despair. This shows that virtual reality therapy could be an effective method for helping veterans with PTSD.

Decrease PTSD Symptoms

Virtual reality can aid in PTSD symptom reduction. According to a study, people living with post-traumatic stress disorder who utilized virtual reality headsets had fewer symptoms than those who did not.

Participants in the study had to answer questions about their PTSD symptoms before and after using the VR headgear. The findings demonstrated that the VR group did not notice a reduction in symptoms, whereas the control group did.

This study offers some preliminary evidence that VR therapy for PTSD may be helpful. Further research is required to check these results and examine how VR might be used to lessen the symptoms of this disease.

Enhanced Focus and Concentration

The use of virtual reality technology can aid people who desire to improve their focus and concentration. It can be a fantastic method to tune out the outside world and concentrate on something else. You are entirely encircled by a secure or professional atmosphere in virtual reality.

This helps block distractions, making it easy for you to concentrate on the task. In addition to this, it may be a fantastic way to pick up new skills. You can learn about various topics without having to go through them by using virtual reality.

Avoid Relapse

Veterans can avoid relapses by using virtual reality. According to a study from the University of Southern California, veterans who underwent virtual reality therapy had a 26% reduction in the number of days they relapsed.

Relapse is a condition many veterans experience; therefore, lowering the number of days when relapse occurs can improve treatment outcomes. Another study discovered that veterans who utilized virtual reality had fewer symptoms of PTSD, sadness, and anxiety.

Increased Participation in Activities Outside of Therapy 

In one study, patients who wore virtual reality headsets were more likely than those who did not wish to participate in activities outside of therapy sessions.

This resulted from the patients’ increased sense of kinship with the surrounding environment and other characters in the virtual reality world when using a headset. 

Another study discovered that using a virtual reality headset improved the ability of PTSD patients to withstand exposure therapy.

Patients were split into three groups for this study: group A received traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group B received CBT supplemented with virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), and group C received VRET alone.

Group A and C show fewer symptoms than group B. This indicates that VR therapy adds to the treatment of PTSD and improves the results of the treatment.

These studies show that virtual reality can promote more participation in activities outside of therapeutic sessions. Patient outcomes may be improved as a result of this.

Improved Behavioral Health

Virtual reality is a technology that submerges users in a virtual world. There are several behavioral health disorders that it has been used to treat. 

One study discovered that VR therapy was superior to conventional therapy for treating anxiety problems. PTSD and phobias can also be treated using VR treatment.

VR therapy has advantages beyond those related to mental health problems. VR can also enhance teaching abilities, work training, and physical fitness, according to studies.

One study, for instance, discovered that VR training could enhance hand-eye coordination. There are many different kinds of accessible VR headsets so it will be beneficial for everyone.

While some headsets demand your hands to manipulate the surroundings, others allow you to stare into the screen.

How the VA is Using Virtual Reality for Treatment

Additionally, VR tools improve mental health care in various contexts, such as palliative care, pain management, and reducing feelings of loneliness in long-term care facilities.

Many patients in VA community living centers are going through depression. They can escape their agony and anxiety thanks to technology. They are not lounging in their bedrooms by themselves but rather are out hiking or relaxing by a campfire in the western North Carolina mountains.

In instances where you’re confined and can’t go anywhere but don’t want to simply sit there and worry about what you’re going through, the headsets offer an escape.

Applications of VR in Therapy

VR has several benefits compared to traditional therapies, including giving patients a more realistic and immersive experience, which may make it easier for them to face their concerns. The use of VR in a group context also has the potential to lower treatment costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does VR therapy help PTSD?

According to one study, VR therapy helped change the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of patients with the support of a virtual experience made and designed for the individual’s needs to enhance and facilitate change.VR immerses the patient in a setting that brings up memories of the trauma. Through virtual reality, you may confront your fear in a secure setting as you expose yourself to triggers.
Like conventional prolonged exposure therapy, this enables you to reframe your perception of the traumatic event and build coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety.

What are the benefits of VR therapy?

VR therapy allows an individual to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. This therapy is different from the conventional treatment methods. The following are the benefits of VR therapy:
Mental health professionals may create highly customized treatment plans that are tailored to the exact needs of their patients.
Patients have more control over their exposure to VR therapy than with traditional exposure therapy approaches. 
Highly interactive virtual reality experiences can be created, enabling patients to feel in control even when exposed to anxiety triggers.
A drug-free approach to easing anxiety brought on by trauma is provided through VR Therapy.
A well-designed VR treatment program can be more cost-effective.

How can AR or VR be used to help treat depression?

Patients will receive training on how to modify or adapt their responses to situations to shift a negative outcome to a positive one.Therapy in a safe virtual environment helps eliminate anxieties, stigma, and phobias experienced during conventional exposure therapy. Patients are compelled to do this to confront or relive specific life experiences in the actual world.
In reality, shy or humiliated patients can participate in sessions online from the comfort of their homes. In virtual reality therapy, patients use highly advanced and innovative methods to treat the disorder.

Ask The Recovery Team if VR Therapy is Right for You

VR therapy, combined with other therapies and medications, is one of the best ways to treat mental health disorders. This makes the treatment more effective for veterans who want to beat addiction and move toward long-term sobriety.

The Recovery Team is a rehabilitation facility that provides various personalized treatment programs to match each patient’s needs. Treatment programs include a trauma program, spirituality program, dual diagnosis program, family program, and more.

Our addiction therapy program is designed to assist people in kicking their alcohol or drug addictions. This treatment combines pharmaceutical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, individual or group counseling, and relapse prevention.

We provide inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment options to address your mental health or drug addiction issue.

Contact us at (800) 817-1247 to speak to a care counselor!