Panic disorder is one of the most prevalent mental-health problems and can have a number of adverse consequences which affect people's lives. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been widely shown to be effective in treating panic disorder and one of the main ingredients of CBT is exposure, where people are gradually exposed to the kind of situations which set off their panic attacks. However exposure can cause problems when patients feel they lack privacy, and because it needs a lot of professionals' time it can also be very expensive. A trial of virtual reality exposure on 37 people in Spain has found that this can be just as effective as real-life exposure. After nine weeks of treatment the two methods were found to be equally effective raising hopes that people with panic disorder can face their demons with more privacy and in a more cost-effective manner.
Botella, C. ... [et al] - Virtual reality exposure in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia : a controlled study Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy May-June 2007, 14(3), 164-175