This open-label study (n=12) assessed the ability of Psyrreal, a VR experience that mimics the phenomenological components of psychedelic and mystical experiences, in alleviating depressive symptoms in people with mild-to-moderate depression. Results suggest that VR-augmented therapy could be beneficial in treating depressive symptoms, with participants showing a significant reduction in depressive symptoms two weeks after the experiments.
“Research into psychedelics has seen a renaissance in the last twenty years. Recent work has shown promising results for the therapeutic benefits of these substances. One popular view claims that these benefits are mediated by the subjective experiences induced by psychedelics. Based on this, we designed a virtual reality experience, Psyrreal, that mimics the phenomenological components of psychedelic and mystical experiences as well as deep meditative states. This experience was implemented in an augmented therapy intervention to investigate whether a virtual replication of such subjective experiences could also lead to therapeutic benefits. We report results from an open-label feasibility study in people with symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression which indicate that Psyrreal has the potential for alleviating depressive symptoms. We also discuss the specific advantages of such VR-augmented interventions and the possible mechanisms of their therapeutic benefits. This work proposes a potential novel method using virtual reality to augment the treatment of depressive symptoms as well as to precisely investigate the mediating subjective factors of the therapeutic effects of psychedelic substances.”
Authors: Karl K. Kaup, Madis Vasser, Kadi Tulver, Juhan Pikamäe & Jaan Aru
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Psychedelic replications in virtual reality and their potential as a therapeutic instrument: an open-label feasibility study
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July 5, 2022