2. The Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

  1. Metin Akay3 and
  2. Andy Marsh4
  1. Brenda K. Wiederhold M.S., MBA1 and
  2. Mark D. Wiederhold M.D., Ph.D.2

Published Online: 9 OCT 2001

DOI: 10.1002/0471206458.ch2

Information Technologies in Medicine: Rehabilitation and Treatment, Volume II

Information Technologies in Medicine: Rehabilitation and Treatment, Volume II

How to Cite

Wiederhold, B. K. and Wiederhold, M. D. (2001) The Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, in Information Technologies in Medicine: Rehabilitation and Treatment, Volume II (eds M. Akay and A. Marsh), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA. doi: 10.1002/0471206458.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Dartmouth College

  2. 4

    National Technical University of Athens

Author Information

  1. 1

    Center for Advanced Multimedia Psychotherapy, CSPP Research and Service Foundation, 6160 Cornerstone Court East, San Diego, CA 92121

  2. 2

    Department of Internal Medicine, Scripps Clinic Medical Group, 1200 Prospect Street, Suite 400, La Jolla, CA 92037

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 9 OCT 2001
  2. Published Print: 13 APR 2001

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471414926

Online ISBN: 9780471206453

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Keywords:

  • VR;
  • anxiety disorder;
  • treatment;
  • agoraphobia;
  • panic disorder;
  • social phobia;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • post-traumatic stress;
  • future targets;
  • disorders

Summary

Approximately 23 million Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder some time during their life. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States, the fifth most common diagnosis given to those seen by primary care physicians, and the number one psychiatric diagnosis made by primary-care physicians.

All anxiety disorders have two common characteristics. First, patients with these disorders usually experience apprehension, worry, and anxiety more intensely and for a longer period of time than the anxiety experienced by the average person in everyday life. Second, patients often develop ritual acts, repetitive thoughts, or avoidance mechanisms as a way to protect themselves from the anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are categorized according to the presence or absence of external stimuli, the cause of the disorder, and the nature of the symptoms.

Each major anxiety disorder category is described here and current treatment modalities are evaluated. When viewing mental health disorders and statistics, it is important to remember that incidence refers to the number of new cases in a specific time period, whereas prevalence refers to the total number of cases at a given time. For instance, lifetime prevalence would mean that a person had the disorder at some point in his or her life but may not have had it at the time of the survey described.

Initial VR studies have shown VR technology to be effective for the treatment of many anxiety disorders. Issues that clinicians should think about when considering this treatment are discussed.