Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterised by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that lead to shaking, confusion, dizziness, shortness of breath and a sense that something terrible is going to happen. Panic attacks tend to rise abruptly and peak after ten minutes, but they can also last for several hours. Panic disorders usually occur after a frightening experience or exposure to prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well.
Panic disorder is usually treated with counselling and medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy is normally the preferred option and medication normally used includes anti-depressants and beta-blockers. About 2.5% of the population experience panic disorder at some point in their lives. It usually begins during adolescence, but any age can be affected.
Conventional psychotherapy usually plays a major role in helping patients overcome their panic disorder including CBT, visualisation and clinical hypnotherapy. Medication is often also prescribed and breathing exercises or relaxation techniques used as part of the treatment.
At the VRIT clinic, we use virtual reality immersive therapy to build a safe and measured environment to gradually expose you to situations that would normally have initiated a panic response. Under the guidance of our trained therapists, you will learn how to understand and readjust your response over time to ultimately improve your quality of life and achieve your goals.
Evidence is growing to support that VRIT is particularly well-suited for treating panic attacks quickly and effectively. Real-time exposure is complex and expensive, and the process can rarely be repeated consistently. That is why until now psychotherapists have relied on imagination exposure, although it is also ineffective as it depends on each person’s ability to imagine the relevant situation.
Virtual reality enables the psychotherapist to offer a safe environment while providing a realistic and accessible experience within the treatment room. At the VRIT clinic, our therapists combine VR with other innovations, such as bio-feedback, to design the most effective treatment programme for you.