26 May 2023

VR helps treat neurotic disorders

The number of patients with neurotic disorders in the Vasileostrovsky District of the Northern Capital has increased sixfold. The figures are significantly higher than the city average.

But this does not mean that all of a sudden people in this particular district are worse off mentally. They just go to the doctors more often. Why? Because of the new system of psychological and psychiatric care, introduced by the district psychoneurological dispensary (PND). Just one fact: now the treatment scheme here includes physiotherapy - with a salt cave, a spa-cave, a virtual reality system...

Medical-psychological help is rendered on the basis of district polyclinics by multidisciplinary teams from the staff of the dispensary. These are psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and specialists in social work. Special offices are open. This means that a person, realizing that he got into a vicious circle of problems, that he feels bad, can go to a specialist, bypassing the PND. About 40 percent of visitors come by themselves. The rest are recommended to visit the office by therapists, cardiologists, and neurologists.

- The main goal was to destigmatize, to change attitudes toward psychiatry. For decades, society had formed a negative attitude toward it. Not everyone was willing to seek support, at least from doctors of a state organization. Meanwhile, according to scientific data, the number of people suffering from mental illness is 4-5 percent. This is the main traditional contingent of the dispensary. There is an equal number of people who are practically healthy. The rest are people with varying degrees of risk of developing mental disorders. Our project is designed precisely for them: to identify, help, and prevent the development of serious situations," explains Vladimir Dutov, the head doctor of the dispensary.

It's not uncommon for people to come to the offices of polyclinics with such serious problems that they needed to be hospitalized. If it is possible to help the patient with consultations and medication, then the treatment takes place in the outpatient clinic. But in many cases, a decision is made to engage the resource directly at the PND. As a rule, day hospital procedures are prescribed.

Psychotherapist Inga Chernovasilenko shows me the "highlights" of the physiotherapy department. Here is the salt cave: the interiors are truly cosmic. You put on 3D glasses - and you are in full relaxation. There is also a gym and a room with a spa-capsule. There are several factors working here: music, color, aromatherapy and massage. Nearby there is a solarium, modern equipment for ultrasound treatment and magnetotherapy.

Virtual reality room with shimmering colored columns is impressive: it perfectly helps to overcome phobias. For example, fear of enclosed space, height, and insects. If necessary, the patient will also be prescribed occupational therapy in special workshops. All of this plus specialist consultations have the expected effect: a person comes out of his neurotic states. And he knows if he is again in captivity of fears and stresses, he will get help. This also applies to psychological problems.

The dispensary specialists believe that it is more appropriate to call the institution not a psychoneurological dispensary, but a Center of Mental Health. There are plans to develop special programs to help those who have returned from the UAS zone, and family members of servicemen and mobilized men.

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