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Virtual reality and other technologies offer hope

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) threatens to overload healthcare and social support systems worldwide as the number of cases rises and existing treatments are not sufficiently effective.

New approaches to treatment are relying on technology, such as virtual reality, to alleviate the psychologically damaging effects of PTSD, and these innovative solutions are explored in a special issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( The special issue is available free online (

PTSD is common in soldiers returning from combat duty and may also result from sexual or physical assault, imprisonment or hostage situations, terrorism, surviving an accident or disaster, or diagnosis with a life-threatening illness. Conventional approaches to treatment, including antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, yield unacceptable recovery rates.

Exposure therapy has been recognized as a highly promising method for treating patients with PTSD. Rather than relying on patients' visualization skills to "relive" the traumatic experience, technological strategies such as virtual reality (VR) provide a controlled environment in which patients can experience a situation or scenario while learning to cope with their emotional responses.

Virtual reality has the potential to play an important role in treating survivors of mass casualty disasters, for example. Countries can implement this tool and the available handheld VR technology as part of a comprehensive plan to respond to the mental health needs of mass casualty survivors.

"We are so fortunate in being able to learn from our patients who give us invaluable feedback and important information so that we may continuously improve treatment protocols" says Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA. "We thank those who have shared their memories and experiences for the benefit of others."

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (formerly CyberPsychology & Behavior) is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published bimonthly in print and online that explores the psychological and social issues surrounding the Internet and interactive technologies. The complete tables of content and free sample issue may be viewed online (

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Telemedicine and e-Health and Journal of Women's Health. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on our website (/

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY
10801-5215 Phone: (914) 740-2100 (800) M-LIEBERT Fax: (914) 740-2101

Vicki Cohn | EurekAlert!
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