By Nex Addo
Video games today are helping the civilian and military community better understand the complex and difficult to handle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. PTSD can occur in those who have had or witnessed a traumatic experience such as the sudden death of a loved one, a natural disaster, war, a personal violent attack, own, and many other trauma-related experiences. Symptoms can appear quickly or even years after an event, but a diagnosis is an extremely difficult and particular process which at times requires some individuals to show signs at least a month at a time with some symptoms including anxiety, depression, and flashbacks. The problem with PTSD is it can be confused with other disorders, but anyone can be diagnosed with PTSD, even those under the age of 16.
Today, virtual reality is now helping the world train pilots, law enforcement, assist in health care rehab and spinal cord injuries, and now helping us gain a better understanding of PTSD and the mental health crisis. VR helps create a stimulating experience similar to the traumatic one a person may have had, though this technique is mostly used in combat-related scenarios. VR works through exposure therapy, forcing an individual to confront the feared thought, image, or memory that is associated with the past event. Hopefully, with enough exposure therapy, the patient will be able to better handle the effects of distressing flashbacks, depression, grief, along with other mental health issues. In January 2019, Science Daily shared a study from Ruhr-University Bochum about PTSD and Tetris.
"The study involved 20 patients with complex PTSD who were hospitalized at the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy for six to eight weeks for regular therapy. In addition to the usual individual and group therapies, they also underwent a special intervention. They wrote one of their stressful memories down on a sheet of paper. Then they tore up the piece of paper -- without talking about the content -- and played Tetris on a tablet for 25 minutes…”
Patients experienced a decrease in the amount and volatility of the flashbacks, but this took at least weeks after playing Tetris for at least a week from the study at Ruhr-University Bochum.
Due to our lack of support in the healthcare industry for mental health as some healthcare professionals would claim it's hard to treat PTSD for everyone or at least a great majority. There are times when PTSD becomes too much for an individual and they may take their own life. Today the VA is combating mental health issues and suicidal ideation by having a 24/7 hotline for veterans to currently using. For those who are civilians, there are many opportunities when it comes to the same issues by contacting local and national suicide hotlines. For now, video games in any format, whether it be created specifically for PTSD patients or those in the market, will need further studies for a better conclusion. It is possible that the games could help trap and reorganize memories of trauma allowing these patients to finally live with PTSD in better conditions.
VA CRISIS HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255 (TEXTING AND ONLINE OPTIONS AVAILABLE)
NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255
Edited by ThatLilyDoe