Individuals who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience an uptick in depressive symptoms because they feel that no one understands what they’re going through. Unfortunately, countless individuals who have PTSD share equally traumatizing memories, including those who’ve experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse, combat veterans and car accident victims.
The old moniker “time heals all wounds” doesn’t appear to be an accurate depiction of PTSD. It’s a diagnosis that continues to afflict someone unless they proactively seek treatment for it. Fortunately, researchers are constantly looking for nuanced solutions to aid afflicted individuals’ in their recoveries. One of the new, promising treatment options for PTSD is virtual reality (VR) technology.
Why is VR technology so promising for PTSD?
One common therapeutic approach that therapists use in treating PTSD patients is exposure therapy. This involves a client going back and identifying and reprocessing challenging emotional memories with the support of a therapist. Patients who do this tend to experience a decline in PTSD symptoms.
Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Medical Virtual Reality Group recently launched a research project to determine whether VR technology can provide an added edge over traditional clinical approaches. The researchers’ preliminary findings are that VR technology may aid patients in confronting issues on a deeper level than the more traditional therapeutic approaches they’ve used before.
One common treatment concern for PTSD patients is consistency and access. The USC researchers have found that their combat-related PTSD patient panelists tend to be better at keeping up with VR treatments instead of therapist’s office ones because of the convenience of carrying such sessions out at home. The researchers warn that VR isn’t a type of self-help treatment option, though. They note that it instead needs to be closely monitored by a trained and licensed professional.
What options do you have if you have PTSD?
PTSD, as referenced above, can afflict you for a lifetime. However, there are many existing treatment options to help you cope with it, and there are countless others on the horizon. While assimilating these coping mechanisms can take some time, they do provide promise for a better tomorrow.
You may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits if your PTSD is particularly acute, complex or chronic. The financial and medical benefits can give you more of an opportunity to restabilize your life and recover.