Oxford study finds virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia

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Oxford study finds virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia

Post by Guest on Fri May 06, 2016 9:14 am

Virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia by allowing people to face situations that they fear, an Oxford University study with patients from the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has found. The virtual reality simulations allowed the patients to learn that the situations (such as a crowded lift) they feared were actually safe. The study, funded by the Medical Research Council, is published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It combines evidence-based psychological treatment techniques with state-of-the-art virtual reality social situations to reduce paranoid fear.

About 1-2% of the population has severe paranoia, typically as a central feature of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. Patients show extreme mistrust of other people, believing that others are deliberately trying to harm them. The condition can be so debilitating that sufferers may be unable to leave the house. Coping mechanisms such as avoiding social situations, reducing eye contact or making any social interaction as short as possible worsen the situation, since they reinforce paranoid fears: patients come to believe that they avoided harm because they used these 'defence behaviours'.

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-05-05-oxford-study-finds-virtual-reality-can-help-treat-severe-paranoia

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