Aerophobia – VR Therapy
What is aerophobia?
Aerophobia is a type of specific phobia that involves a fear of flying or air travel. Research suggests that between 2.5% and 40% of people experience flying-related anxiety each year. Estimates on the low end likely represent instances where the condition is diagnosed by a mental health professional, while those on the higher end are likely the result of self-rated symptoms of flying anxiety.
So while many people are afraid of flying to some degree, only a much smaller proportion actually meet the criteria for a phobia diagnosis. Whether or not your fear of flying has developed into a phobia, it can have serious effects on your quality of life.
People who have aerophobia experience persistent and intense anxiety when they think about flying or when they travel by air. The symptoms of aerophobia, also known as aviophobia, are similar to those of other specific phobias. Physical symptoms of the fear of flying may include: Chills, Choking sensations, Clouded thinking, Disorientation, Flushed skin, Gastrointestinal upset, Increased heart rate, Irritability, Nausea, Shaking, Shortness of breath, Sweating.
Virtual Reality Therapy for Aerophobia
The VR environments allows one to repeat scenes as often as necessary. Unlike typical exposure techniques, the technology is not limited to patients with high imagination capacity. In fact, the exposure can be modified to best serve patients’ needs, which includes the ability to control the duration of the flight, weather, fellow passengers, and more.
VR Environments that help
The person will find themselves at home, about to leave the house and will wait for the cab to arrive. This environment is particularly beneficial for those who need to work on anticipatory anxiety.
Trip to the airport
The person is sitting inside a cab, on their way to the terminal.
The person is waiting to board the plane. The hostess will ask them for the boarding card, before they have to walk to the airplane.
The person is seated in the airplane. After the in-flight safety demonstration, the plane takes off, carries out its flight (with or without turbulence) and finally lands.
VR Therapy involves gradually introducing the person to the environment and helping them confront it and adapt to make necessary changes. It may involve just a few sessions of therapy, after which the end goal is the person confronting such fears and be confident in taking flights.
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