We completely rely on food to fulfil our most fundamental requirement for survival. Food contains nutrients and other ingredients that are vital for the development, maintenance, and repair of bodily tissues. Additionally, it is crucial for the control of crucial processes. However, many people struggle with eating disorders, which are mental conditions that affect physical health as well.
But, the good news is that any type of eating disorder can be treated with virtual reality exposure therapy. An anxious person can also be calmed down and redirected with virtual relaxation therapy. Even combat veterans who had developed PTSD were helped by the use of VRET, as were elderly people who had a fear of falling. Some studies concluded that VRET is the most effective method for treating various phobias.
Various psychological conditions might lead to the development of unhealthy eating patterns known as eating disorders.
If precautions are not taken promptly, it could lead to serious health problems that could be fatal. One of the most typical symptoms of the disorder is severe food restriction. Other symptoms include food binges and purging behaviors like vomiting or excessive exercise.
The key is to convey information in a way that is simple to understand. Once people understand what they are, it’s amazing how much their behaviour changes.
The major types of eating disorders are as below:
Among eating disorders, this one is the most prevalent. Even though they are dangerously underweight, people with anorexia typically perceive themselves as overweight. They typically severely restrict their calorie intake, monitor their weight frequently, and stay away from particular food groups.
Bulimia nervosa is an additional eating disorder in which people frequently consume unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time.
An episode of binge eating typically continues until the sufferer feels utterly satisfied. An individual who is bingeing frequently feels powerless to control their intake or stop eating. This could be brought on by any food, but it usually occurs when a person consumes foods they normally steer clear of.
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The symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of bulimia or the binge eating subtype of anorexia. For instance, they frequently experience a loss of control while bingeing and eat unusually large quantities of food in comparatively short amounts of time.
People with this disorder do not cut calories or engage in purging behaviors to make up for their binges, such as vomiting or excessive exercise. Binge eaters frequently overeat and may not choose nutrient-dense foods. Their risk of developing medical complications could rise as a result.
Eating things that are not considered to be food and have no nutritional value is a symptom of the eating disorder known as pica. People who have pica have a craving for things other than food, like ice, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, pebbles, laundry detergent, or cornflour. At any age, pica can happen.
Another recent eating disorder discovery is ruminative disorder. It describes a condition where someone regurgitates food that they have already chewed and swallowed, re-chews it, and then either re-swallows it or spits it out.
Six years after treatment, a survey of anorexic patients revealed a 49% success rate for additional therapies like psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
A child, adolescent, or adult may develop this disorder. It typically appears between the ages of 3 and 12 months in infants and typically goes away on its own. The condition typically requires exposure therapy to be resolved in both children and adults.
VRET for Eating Disorder
Reputable specialist Dr. Howard Gurr has been treating eating disorders for more than 30 years. He advocated for virtual reality exposure therapy and found that it was more effective than conventional treatments. 90% of patients with eating disorders have been successfully treated with virtual reality.
Six years after treatment, a survey of anorexic patients revealed a 49% success rate for additional therapies like psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Source: docwirenews
Virtual reality is a more appealing method to get people to think about the long-term effects of their current actions. It all comes down to understandably conveying information. It’s incredible how many changes once people understand what they are.
How VRET works for Eating Disorders
Patients are put in a restaurant setting for a simulation where they can place orders and eat food. The specific phobia triggers of the patient can be incorporated into this scenario. Think about a person who is hesitant to prepare a specific dish or eat in public. Through a customized VR simulation, the user is made aware of it, and they can work to gradually overcome it.
Another experiment on meat eaters involved getting participants to don a virtual reality helmet and get down on their hands and knees. During the experiment, a virtual mirror projected images of the participants dressed as cows back at them. One of the participants believed he was about to die and was being led to the slaughterhouse, and turned vegetarian.
This way virtual reality exposure therapy helps people in many ways to fight with eating habits. Virtual relaxation therapy is one of the best tools to go through CBT and other therapy in a more effective manner.
Binge eaters frequently overeat and may not choose nutrient-dense foods. Their risk of developing medical complications could rise as a result.
Recent research on VRET has also revealed that it causes patients to experience and then overcome anxiety related to food. The study also found that binge eating could be successfully reduced by VR in people with bulimia and binge eating disorders.
Virtual reality is a more alluring way to encourage people to think about the long-term consequences of their current behaviour. The key is to convey information in a way that is simple to understand. Once people understand what they are, it’s amazing how much their behaviour changes. If you or someone you know has this disorder, speak with a doctor to learn the full extent of VRET in your case.