Fear of Public Speaking

We all know how upsetting it can be to be scared of someone or something.  In fact, one La Jolla man says his fear was affecting his job and life.  So, he decided to take control and fought his fear in a way that very few people have done.

“I would become very anxious, light headed, lots of perspiration,” said Ronald Davidson.  “I thought I was going to pass out I was some nervous.  People are going to think i’m crazy.  How am I going to explain this?”

Fears of flying, spiders and heights.  Most of us are afraid of something, but when our fear becomes overwhelming it can paralyze us and change the way we live our everyday lives.

“I’ve been in the middle of a speech and was almost so disabled by anxiety.  I was almost not able to carry on.”

Davidson’s fear of public speaking affected his ability to do his job, and his confidence in life. 

“I’ve had a couple of times where I thought I was going to pass out.  I was so nervous it’s not a good feeling.”

“Phobias are the number one mental illness, even more common than depression.  But they’re also the most treatable mental illness,” Doctor Brenda Wiederhold.

Psychologists today treat phobia by having their patients imagine what they’re afraid of then they jump straight into real life situations.  But  a medical center in Sorrento Valley has virtually opened a door to a new world of therapy. 

“What we’re able to do with the VR is to take more systematic baby steps.  Because you don’t want the person to feel some anxiety… you don’t want to overwhelm them.  That can actually make them avoid even more.”

The therapist controls the environment and monitors the patient’s heart rate, breathing and mind activity.

“They’re actually feeling the vibrations, they’re hearing the sounds they’re seeing the visuals so all of their senses are stimulated.” said Wiederhold.

“I’m fairly skeptical so if it works with me it’ll work with anybody,” said Davidson.

The future of VR is virtually limitless.  Right now they are treating people with eating disorders, ADHD and anger management.  And some therapists are even experimenting with treating schizophrenia.

“You put them in the Virtual world to make them understand that those voices are just in the virtual world and you get them to slowly change their reality,” said Wiederhold.

Virtual therapy is in its beginning stages, but it has helped at least one patient with his fear of public speaking and changed his life.

“It helps you in so many other ways when you gain self confidence.  You faced something that you found very fearful and you know I probably could have gotten through the rest of my life with out doing this… I could have skated around it, I have in the past.  But it feels so good for a change to confront it and to over come it.”

 

For more information on Ron’s story, click here.

Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Linda Manassee Buell was a prisoner of Pomerado Road.

Panic attacks, fear of open spaces and fear of driving kept her captive, at least in her mind. The thought of venturing beyond an eight-mile stretch of Pomerado Road in Poway terrified her.

Buell, 46, managed to overcome her fears—with help from a tech-savvy psychologist and an innovative treatment that uses the same kind of virtual reality technology found in video arcades.

To help Buell conquer her phobias, San Diego psychologist Brenda Wiederhold strapped goggles on her patient then immersed her in a digital world full of the very things that scared her most.

Buell had never heard of virtual reality treatment until she called Brenda Wiederhold’s office. Even hearing Wiederhold describe over the telephone one of the treatments—driving a car in the virtual world and getting stuck in traffic jam in tunnel—made Buell nervous. She knew how terrifying something like that in real life could be.

On the first visit, Wiederhold plunked Buell down in the middle of a virtual plaza surrounded by old European buildings.

The first thing Buell did was look for a way out.

And that was exactly what Wiederhold would have predicted.

When Buell did find her way out, it led to an open grassy field that was just as nerve-wracking. She quickly returned to the plaza because, she explained, “there were people there, and I figured I could ask them for help.”

Buell worked her way up to virtual driving in later therapy sessions.

She donned the virtual reality goggles, sat behind an actual steering wheel and pressed her foot on an actual accelerator until she came to a small tunnel.

“My first reaction was to look for the exit to the tunnel,” Buell said. “I wanted to see the hole at the other end.”

She made it through.

The more Buell exposed herself to her fears in these virtual worlds, the more confident, and less anxious she became—until she got to the point where she could venture, little by little, into the real world.

Her sessions ended, but Buell sees her recovery as ongoing.

She credits Wiederhold’s treatment as much as the virtual reality with helping her. “It’s a tool,” Buell said. “Brenda doesn’t focus on the technology. She uses the technology as a part of the whole.”

For more information on Linda’s story, click here.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/08/exposure-therapy/496547/

Exposure therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, involves subjecting patients to increasing amounts of things they fear, or otherwise hope to avoid. It is one of the great success stories of mental health, and it’s not just for phobias…

Recently, a more palatable route has been introduced with virtual reality. The Virtual Reality Medical Center in La Jolla, for example, offers VR therapy for all manner of fears. Heights, driving, needles and blood, spiders, enclosed spaces—you name it, they treat it. First steps in traditional phobia treatment sometimes involve imagining fearful scenarios, but a patient’s mind is naturally resistant to those thoughts and will go to some lengths to avoid fleshing out terrifying visions. Virtual reality scenarios have proved useful in social phobias, wherein patients have a debilitating fear of interacting with other people.

www.vrphobia.eu

www.vrphobia.com

www.fearofflyingexpert.com

frontoffice@vrphobia.com

9834 Genesee Avenue, Suite 427, La Jolla, CA 92037

This Anxiety Disorder Makes People Afraid of Vomit

http://www.health.com/anxiety/emetophobia

Emetophobia is very real—and can make life extremely challenging.

SARAH KLEIN

June 21, 2018

For as long as she can remember, Rachel has been afraid of vomit. And not just afraid in the way that everyone finds vomit unpleasant. She has a diagnosable fear of vomiting known as emetophobia.

“The first moment my parents and I really realized I had a more significant reaction than most people to vomit was when I was very young,” she says. “We were driving through a Christmas light show. The finale was a tunnel of flashing lights, and my little cousin was sick next to me in the car. I started panicking, and I even opened the car door while we were still driving in an attempt to get away from the situation as quickly as possible.”

Years of vomit anxiety followed, whether she was sick herself, saw someone else who was ill, or even saw vomit on the ground or on TV. “While some people might say, ‘ew, gross,’ but then move on with their lives, the scene replays in my head for a long time after,” she says.

Fear is totally normal, but a phobia—of vomit, flying, heights, snakes, and more—is problematic. “A phobia is a diagnosable disorder that impacts people’s lives negatively,” says clinical psychologist Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, president of the Virtual Reality Medical Center in California, where she treats people with anxiety disorders using VR.

To read the full article, please visit:  http://www.health.com/anxiety/emetophobia

Contact Virtual Reality Medical Center at frontoffice@vrphobia.com to schedule an appointment.

 

Virtual Reality Expands to Phobia and PTSD Therapy

http://www.abc10.com/news/local/virtual-reality-expanding-in-phobia-and-ptsd-therapy-education-gaming/394991048

Wiederhold’s clinic already uses the technology for medical therapy to help patients deal with PTSD, anxiety, phobias (like fear of flying), pain during medical procedures and chronic pain. She predicts more clinics using VR will pop-up in California and across the country within the near future.

 

 

 

 

Contact Information:

Virtual Reality Medical Center

9834 Genesee Avenue, Suite 427

La Jolla, California USA

frontoffice @ vrphobia.com

Phobias Born of Our High-Tech Lifestyles

http://www.medicaldaily.com/smartphone-separation-anxiety-may-be-linked-personal-memories-study-says-421507

 

“Nomophobia, fear of missing out (FoMo), and fear of being offline (FoBo), — all anxieties born of our new high-tech lifestyles — may be treated similarly to other more traditional phobias,” Wiederhold said in a statement.“Exposure therapy, in this case turning off technology periodically, can teach individuals to reduce anxiety and become comfortable with periods of disconnectedness.”
                                                                                                                                                                                           
Contact Information:
frontoffice @ vrphobia.com
+1 858 642 0267
Professor Dr. Brenda K Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN

Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold Wins Satava Award

Satava Award

We are excited to announce that, Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Chief Executive Officer of the Interactive Media Institute in San Diego, CA has been awarded the 11th Annual Satava Award at the 2005 Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) conference. The conference, now in its 13th year serves as an international forum for physicians, computer scientists and educators to present research on data-centered solutions to health care problems. Dr. Wiederhold was honored for her continuous effort to further the application of advanced technologies and Virtual Reality (VR) for patient care. This is the first time that the award has been presented for work in the Mental Health Care field and only the second time that it has been awarded to a female researcher.