Anxiety and depression, whilst not the same as dementia, can still be treated using the VR application this portfolio is developing. They, however, focus on different things – and the treatment for them is similar.
Whilst anyone dealing with anxiety and/or depression should really see a psychologist and discuss the best ways forward for them personally, one of the recommended ways to help overcome both disorders is through Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which ‘works to change your thoughts and behaviour by teaching you to think rationally about common difficulties, helping you to shift negative or unhelpful thought patterns and reactions to a more realistic, positive and problem-solving approach’ (BeyondBlue, c2016). Usually, CBT would be done over a long period with a therapist, but it might be possible to utilise some CBT techniques in the VR space by giving the patient a place to write out their troubles and provide them with a few steps to follow to analyse each day and move forward.
Another CBT technique is to ‘[teach] relaxation and breathing techniques, particularly muscle relaxation, to control anxiety and the physical symptoms of tension’ (BeyondBlue, c2016) – this, again, could be done through the app, with a neutral and relaxing space being provided and providing instruction on breathing techniques and relaxation through text overlays, akin to the subtitles on the dementia recordings.
Whilst anxiety can be assisted through exposure therapy, this is going to be intentionally avoided. Whilst the menus should be separated, with different sub-applications being selected depending on the user’s needs, there is still a chance that someone not ready for exposure therapy would activate it, or that the patient would have an unpredictable reaction such as a panic attack in response to the VR scenario.
c2016. Psychological Treatments for Depression. [Online]. [25 May 2017]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression/psychological-treatments-for-depression
c2016. Psychological Treatments for Anxiety. [Online]. [25 May 2017]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/psychological-treatments-for-anxiety