A psychiatry researcher in University of California called Michelle Craske is trying her best in treating a stubborn and sidelined symptom of depression, Anhedonia. She is asking her patients to dive in virtual realities of imageries with coral reefs, pine trees and other enchanting scenes. She, along with her colleagues is testing VR in treating Anhedonia which is basically loss of ability to feel any kind of pleasure.
Michelle believes that such mental strolls might help people to absorb good feelings in this process. It’s strongly an unconventional process which unlike other strategies will not only curb the negative emotions but will also evoke positive feelings in the patients. Some studies even suggest that VR can help in treating phobias and social anxiety.
The base of Michelle’s and her colleagues’ therapy is that it puts a person in a joyful situation, say, a museum where first everything will be discussed with them in thorough detail like art and then listening them talking about the art, it’s shades and the related happiness on seeing it. Craske even runs a pilot project where she lets 6 patients with severe problems go through VR sessions and then checks the MRI scans of the brain if the technique has any effect.
Also, the researchers now are running an extended research where a dozen of patients with VR gear to be used with smartphones shall be asked to attend 13 VR sessions. They will write about the feelings induced whilst watching in a diary. The results will be compared to a group who didn’t undergo those.
Dr. Daniel Freeman, an Oxford psychologist further added that combining VR and mental health care is a collaborative process. It needs good hardware and a structured program in healthcare so that patients do not experience unpleasant symptoms like Nausea.