How Have We Evolved over Time

When we think back to a couple of decades ago, we didn’t know all the things that we know now. There are so many things that have changed and that have made the way we live so much better. There are people that are saying that we don’t really evolve over time, but there are some signs that we have actually evolved far quicker in these modern times. However, this modern lifestyle is often faced-paced and relentless and many people struggle to cope. It is a more stressful lifestyle and many people benefit from free online counseling.  Here are some of the things to explain why we are saying that we are evolved over time:

Medical advancement

The first explanation on how we have evolved more rapidly in recent times is to look at our medical history. Hundreds of years ago, there wasn’t any such thing as organ transplant and a bought of flu or measles could have spelled death. Amazing but true.  In the twenty-first century, we haven’t just carried out a simple organ transplant like kidney or liver, but we are also able to transplant hearts,

In the twenty-first century, we haven’t just carried out a simple organ transplant with the heart,  kidney, and liver but we are also able to transplant other parts of the body. The medical advancement is getting better and better over time. Now flu is something that everyone gets during the winter time and measles isn’t as deadly anymore. Nowadays, even deadly illnesses like cancer and HIV are becoming more and more treatable and, though there isn’t yet a cure, patients are able to live almost normal lives. However, even though we, as humans, are able to do all this, there are still millions of people who suffer from depression and other mental issues and need online therapy. Thankfully, there are many expert organizations out there like BetterHelp that can help sufferers get back on the road to recovery.

Technology advancement

If you ask a teenager today to use a landline phone, use a record player, send a fax, or even use dial-up Internet, they will possibly not know what you are talking about and stare at you with a blank expression. Things we used only a decade or so ago have all been replaced by touch screen phones which were unfamiliar and something only a couple of people had. Today, all the touch screen phones are essential to our lives and on it is our record player, radio, camera, fax machine, computer, phone, and everything else that you can take with you everywhere. Imagine carrying all that equipment around from 30 years ago. 50 years ago, no one had a clue about these amazing smartphones. Hopefully, in another 50 years from now (or much sooner), things like depression and the need for people to seek online counseling will be a thing of the past too. If you want to know about some types of depression, visit our other article or read more here:

Technology is a great example that we are evolved over time. Now, there might be some things that we don’t know about that might be used by our grandchildren or their children. But note that “There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” Jim Taylor Ph.D. explained.


Personally and gender advancement

Fortunately, for the good of humanity, slavery is something that doesn’t happen anymore in most countries. What’s more, women have the same rights as men do anything… and that didn’t happen years ago. Another great example of gender advancement is that now marriages of the same sex is deemed the norm, while only a couple of years ago it was illegal to marry the same sex. “Much of the information they are exposed to is negative and harmful, and thus only reinforces the feeling of isolation.” Nicole Issa, PsyD also added. 

Personally, I think people are evolving and things are changing every day. Now, many more women are working and their husbands are staying at home and taking care of the kids; you know the kids alarm clock, personal chef, hygeinist, judge, repair person and the 5 million other things a stay at home parent does daily.

When we think about it, there are many things that change over time. We are evolving and everything is getting better and more complicated. Technology is improving, the medical industry is improving, and now marriages of the same sex are legal. “Everyday evolution” as I like to call it, is something that is happening even if we don’t want to admit it. Hopefully, we can now start developing ways to help those who need online counseling by being prepared for every situation and even how to control anger. As Stephen Dansiger PsyD MFT used to say, “Mindfulness for Anger Management puts mindfulness into action with transformative skills and real strategies for overcoming anger and taking control of powerful emotions.”


What You Need To Learn About 2014 Fontana Space Discovery Symposium


One of the most excellent events in the scientific field is the 2014 Fontana space discovery symposium. The said event was organized for the sole purpose of educating everyone about the latest advancements or developments in the study of space discovery. Several professionals, particularly professors, have attended the said event. Some of the top common topics included during the symposium include the following:


  1. Space Exploration 

It refers to the discovery, study, and exploration of the celestial structures found in the outer space. Many companies have engaged in the business of developing the latest technology that would help experts gain a deeper understanding of the space. These firms have made significant investments because they look forward to receiving more benefits in the future.


2. Latest Space Discoveries

The attendees of the symposium also had an opportunity to re-learn the different space discoveries in the past. One of the speakers created a recap of all the recent developments and how these findings affect specific scientific facts and theories. They also discussed the factors that must be identified to know whether a discovery complies with a particular cosmological model.


3. Scientific Efforts

The best part about the symposium mentioned above is that everyone was given an opportunity to see the latest efforts made for the scientific community. It was amazing how these efforts are starting to benefit everyone who has invested in studying space discovery and exploration. Some attempts may have failed in the past, but the percentage of the success rates is still astounding.


Symposiums are ideal for those who want to learn more about a particular topic and get acquainted with people who are from the same field. It is an excellent way to connect with like-minded individuals. The attendees came from different parts of the world. It seems like all their efforts were worth it.


Mobile Payments: Making Life Easy And Stress Free For Consumers

Undoubtedly, digital centralization has had a significant impact on our daily lives. It has certainly changed the way we discover new things, watch television and videos, and keep track of our physical and mental health. Darn, the way we communicate with our tennis and football heroes have become digital as well!


Recently, the way we purchase commodities and pay our bills have changed too, with the advent of mobile payment technology. As per the Nielsen’s second quarter 2017 Mobile Wallet Report, the percentage of consumers that utilize mobile methods has gone up to a whopping 50%. 


Mobile Wallet User Statistics


So who uses the modern wallet? Well, both men and women do – about 47 and 53 percent, respectively. The bigger part of the pie goes to the 18-34-year-old age range, making up 55% of the whole population. Status-wise, paying digitally is popular to people from different income levels – apparently more seen in those who earn above $100,000. 


Benefits Of Using Mobile Payments


By far, consumers have turned to a variety of methods to pay for their bills, debts, and purchases. Paypal, MasterCard Pay Pass, and Google Wallet are a few of the popular companies that offer digital money transactions. 


With that said, can consumers attest that this method of payment has made life easier? Has it helped reduce stress and enabled them to finally have more time for more significant activities? That would be a yes!


Here are some advantages mentioned by consumers that utilized mobile payments.



  • Convenience. That would be on top of the list, undoubtedly. When you’re given the opportunity to pay from the comfort of your home – or at a restaurant or while vacationing in Phuket – that’s convenience. 



You can probably take an hour or two of the time that you’d spend dressing up and going out just to pay for your electricity and phone bills, or going to the bank to withdraw so you can purchase something at the mall. For on-the-go businessmen and entrepreneurs, paying online or through phone is a surefire winner. 



  • You Save A Lot When You Don’t Pay Through Your Credit Card. Yes, you do. Paying through your credit card adds 3.5% more than what you actually pay for – for anything! Some companies do have payment fees, but not one asks for something as high as 3.5%. There are even a few who don’t actually let you pay transaction fees. And to a growing family who is struggling to make ends meet, little to no fees goes a long way. 




  • You Feel More Secure Not Having To Bring Big Cash. By utilizing mobile payments, the stress and worry of losing money from theft or just plain recklessness is eliminated. You no longer have to carry a bulky wallet on your way to the bank to make payments.There is lesser risk when you don’t have cash on hand. Moreover, unlike using your credit card to pay, you don’t need to enter a lot of information, making you a potential target for hacking. A click from your phone, and lo and behold, you’re done!



According to an article from BetterHelp, money worries are among the most common causes of stress. In fact, this site offers great online counseling advice about finances, if you feel like you need guidance on these things.


Overall, mobile methods of payment have so far proven to not only save time and money, but it has also given us the opportunity to discover easier ways and means to make our life easier and more convenient. No matter which group you belong – whether you are a consumer or a retailer – paying from the modern wallet is definitely a win-win situation. 

What Kinds Of Apps Complement The Work Of A Psychiatrist?


Having a suspicion that you have a mental illness calls for a visit to a psychiatric clinic. It is not advisable to shrug it off, assuming that it is a fluke or that you know yourself better than any psychiatrist. You cannot claim the former freely until you get a diagnosis. As for the latter, the mental health professional has years of hands-on experience,so he must be an expert in the field.

“Experience and credentials are important, but it’s usually the personality of a therapist and the therapeutic rapport that develops between teen and therapist that is the most important factor of all.” – Kathryn Rudlin, LCSW

Touching base with a psychiatrist, however, does not mean you should entirely rely on the treatments they facilitate. There is often a slight margin of error, especially if you consider the truth that most psychiatric disorders remain irreversible. Thus, you are welcome to complement the work of your psychiatrist with a mobile application.

What kinds of apps should you concentrate on, pray tell?


For a lot of mental disorders, the problem comes down to the fact that the person has a bad habit of thinking negatively about life in general. The usual ideas stay along the lines of “I can never find happiness” or “I can’t get better,” and that’s honestly unhealthy. “The worst thing we can do is say to ourselves, ‘I can’t handle it,’ while the best thing we can say is, ‘I may not like it, but I can handle it.” Says Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist.

The apps you need, therefore, are the ones that can improve your thoughts. They don’t run short of tips and tricks on how to cope with specific issues. You can also utilize them to train your mind to go towards the positive direction all the time.

Symptoms Tracker


Are you searching for an application that allows you to monitor your progress? Well, developers created symptom-tracking apps mostly for that reason. But “If a person is actually in need of therapy, these can be a great supplement, but they cannot take the place of engaging with someone who can offer individualized interpretations and insights that an app cannot provide.” Tanisha Ranger, PsyD explains.

There is ideally one downloadable application for each mental illness, e.g., depression, anxiety, autism, ADD/ADHD, etc. Whenever a symptom appears, you can consult that app to understand whether it’s something that will go away by itself or if you have to seek immediate assistance already. 



You may also want to look into self-help apps – the perfect tools for handling various psychological issues. In case you require help in tracking your breathing or sleeping pattern, overcoming anxiety, or journaling your episodes, you will find an application for that.

What’s cool about such apps is that most of them are free to download. It is an absolute plus, especially since receiving help for your mental health isn’t cheap.

Mental Support


Last but surely not the least, some apps let you speak with a psychiatrist online. These are virtual counseling platformsthat make great complementary help as people do not have to wait for the next day or drive for hundreds of miles to see a mental health physician. Multiple psychiatrists are on duty 24/7 as well; thus, you won’t run out of advisers to talk to if need be.


Dealing with a psychological disorder is more bearable now than ever, although long-term cure is still unavailable for many illnesses. The information about the symptoms of every disease is extensive and typically free on the internet. When you need mental help, there is at least a single psychiatrist to talk to nearby. If you don’t wish to or can’t go back to the clinic often for treatment, some apps may complement the effort that the professional invests toward your recovery.

Find the application(s) that will suit your mental health needs today based on the categories above. Good luck! 


What Online Therapy Can Or Cannot Do


The internet is one of humanity’s most marvelouscreations that most people cannot live without now. It allows faster and better communication with loved ones across the globe. It lets you share amazing photos and videos on the web for everyone to view and like. Furthermore, it is a useful tool for folks who seek counseling virtually.

Online therapy is the name given to that service. A collection of licensed therapists typically stay in a counseling platform and offer psychotherapy to people who register for it. “Online therapy is also known as teletherapy, online counseling, distance therapy, internet therapy, e-therapy, telehealth, telebehavioral health, email therapy, text therapy, phone counseling.” Sena Moran, LMHC wrote

The thing is, this electronic treatment is not applicable to every individual with a mental health issue out there. Find out what online therapy can or cannot do below.


It Can:

Offer Convenience

Some folks with troubled minds cannot go to therapy due to their location, disability, or busy schedule. When you sign up for online counseling, however, you can consult a therapist during your free time and without leaving your home. You may select how you wish to communicate with them as well, e.g., through texting, video conferencing, voice calling, etc. But you have to note that “Online care is not for every patient or practitioner. Clients with more serious mental illnesses or addictions likely need more treatment than digital therapy can provide. And some clinicians may find certain telehealth modalities difficult,” says clinical psychologist Nina Barlevy, PsyD.

Educate People Regarding Mental Health

It is standard practice for virtual counseling platforms as well to provide articles about mental health on the website. People can access and read them whenever there’s a disorder they want to know about in that instant. “Suffering has complicated factors that interface including: physical, psychological, social, emotional and neurological.” Karen Doll, Psy.D., L.P. said. Those who go to a conventional therapist won’t experience that unless they crack the actual psychiatry books open.


Come At Modest Rates

Online therapy is an economical choice for individuals who want to speak with a counselor yet don’t have the financial means to meet one in person. In case you have to pay up to 200 dollars for traditional counseling, internet psychotherapy costs no more than 100 dollars.


It Cannot:

Get Covered By Medical Insurance

Only a few insurance companies include mental health to the medical services they can cover for a person. Most don’t do so since treating and diagnosis a psychiatric disorder can cost a fortune. However, virtual counseling remains unseen as a real treatment; that’s why it is still not a part of any insurance package.

Guarantee 100% Discretion

Privacy is perhaps the ultimate thing that online therapy platforms cannotsecureentirely. For sure, they have genius tech folks in the company, but the fact that people need to key in their personal and bank details to avail the service means the information is already accessible on the web. If a more resourceful hacker decides to attack their system, there’s a 50:50 chance that they may succeed.


Assure Real-Time Counseling Often

Since online therapists deal with dozens or hundreds of individuals on a daily basis, they may not be able to be therefor you immediately. If calls don’t work, you may leave your concerns in a text or e-mail. Then the waiting period for their response can go from hours to several weeks. 


Overall, online therapy is an incredible medical advancement that can change lives for the better. It is available in most countries, so there’s no reason for mental health patients to continue battling their disease on their own. 

The Effect of Staying in a Critical Care Unit


Studies show that after patients stayed in a critical care unit, their psychological morbidity rates raised staggeringly high. Intensive Care Society’s research highlights a program designed to improve the psychological assessment of those who are critically ill.


Long-term morbidity can be reduced in two ways: (1) Early psychological assessment of morbidity, as well as (2) support for the patient. The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) of Great Britain is currently working on a study to improve these two key factors.



“So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.” Lillian Harris LCPC-C


The program, called “POPPI,” stands for the Provision of Psychological Support to People in Intensive Care. Its current mission is to inform the National Health Society (NHS) on how to best improve the services needed by those who are critically ill. POPPI aims to find what improvements need to be made in the areas of morbidity assessment and patient support to reduce long-term morbidity. 


Although the reason for long-term morbidity has not been determined, healthcare professionals hypothesize that reactions to medication, stressful treatments, and being in a new environment are key factors. These factors increase the amount of panic and hallucinations that patients experience in the intensive care unit. These experiences have long-lasting effects. In fact, a study found that approximately half of the patients who were discharged from intensive care suffered from serious psychological problems three months after their stay. POPPI’s initiative hopes to decrease this number drastically.


The Components of POPPI


POPPI is a four-part intervention. Firstly, hospital staffs that interact with patients in the intensive care unit go through two training courses. Then, they will create a therapeutic environment; the aim of the second step is to decrease the amount of stress felt in the unit and to increase the level of peace. The third part of the intervention includes the use of the Intensive Care Psychological Assessment Tool. This assessment tool is designed to provide a measure of the acute psychological stress and unusual experiences that the patients in the unit undergo. The last step of the intervention involves support sessions. 


“Stress can seem omnipresent. Between working, socializing and taking care of the home, it sometimes seems we don’t have a minute to ourselves, let alone enough time to really take care of our bodies and minds.” Sonja Seglin, LCPC


Support sessions are provided for patients who score highly on the assessment tool given to them in the previous step. These support sessions are only provided to those patients who are deemed to be at high risk for developing psychological morbidity.


Getting the Help You Need



“We all experience obstacles in life that keep us from feeling and being whole. Many have found counseling as a way to invest in themselves, their relationships, or their families in order to support a better or new meaning on life.”  Ryan Mebust – LMFT said. If you find yourself in need of professional help for your mental health, there are many resources available for you. As this article mentions, morbidity rates are extremely high after staying in a critical care unit. If you or a loved one is suffering from this, reach out for help.


Robot Surgeons, Medical Drones and Other Advances in Disaster Relief


Between climate change, devastation of certain ecosystems and Mother Nature’s indifferent attitude to human life, natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future. Technology has a role to play in how these are dealt with, however. Using social media and the internet, volunteer rescuers and donations from around the world can now be mobilized in hours instead of weeks. Refugees can be more easily tracked and united with their families, and various non-governmental aid agencies can stay in touch wherever they are, making it easier to avoid duplication of effort and getting help to where it’s most needed. A number of other technologies are also now being applied to disaster relief, from those involving improved logistics to some intended to actually change weather patterns.




Some of the materials needed for humanitarian efforts are measured in tons: bulk foodstuffs, potable water and large amounts of temporary shelter materials. In other cases, however, a few ounces can make a huge difference: medicines, blood samples and real-time video imagery.


After heavy floods in Kasungu, Malawi, a “drone corridor” has been established covering 5,000km² (2,000 square miles), an area that contains 300 schools and almost 500 clinics and other health centers. Using drones, aid workers need no longer spend much of their time physically travelling routes to see if they are passable, blood samples can be flown in from any location to a laboratory where they can be tested for infectious diseases, and small amounts of medicine can easily be dispatched to where they are needed.


As in the case of many civilian applications for drones, the underlying technology is already available; the creation of the “drone corridor” only means that special permission has been granted to use unmanned flying vehicles for humanitarian purposes.




Often, the major challenge in disaster areas is getting a limited number of qualified volunteers to where they’re needed while transport routes are damaged and vehicles are hard to come by.


Nowadays, highly skilled volunteers such as surgeons no longer even have to travel to be of use in a large-scale emergency. First developed as part of the space program, remotely controlled robots are now safe enough to use to perform surgery from any distance away. The first transatlantic operation was conducted successfully as far back as 2001, and surgeons using such systems claim that it’s not that much more difficult than doing a procedure in their own operating rooms. There are some limitations: reliable, lag-free internet connections have to be established to remote hospitals, while some complications are better handled with an experienced doctor physically present. Where nothing else is available, though, mobile, self-contained robotic surgeons may soon become standard equipment for organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres. Other applications of telemedicine in disaster areas include making consultations with remotely located epidemiologists and other experts possible, or serving as a training aid.


An End to Hurricanes

Usually, “a force of nature” is used to describe something completely irresistible, but a number of scientists are contemplating engineering on a global scale in order to stop hurricanes and other disasters. While the main emphasis is on reducing global warming, more specific solutions are also being envisioned.


One possible approach is to use the sonic booms of aircraft travelling faster than the speed of sound to disrupt the wind patterns around the eye of a hurricane. Though this seems insanely dangerous to the pilots, there is indeed a chance that it might work and potentially protect hundreds of other lives.


A more practical, entirely preventative method relies on reducing the temperature of the surface across large swathes of ocean. Although this is likely to be expensive, the required investment seems to make sense when the disruption and property damage hurricanes can cause are taken into account. The main idea is that hurricane formation is impossible without large amounts of seawater evaporating. By suspending a large vertical tube in the ocean from a ring floating on the surface, the actions of waves sloshing over the ring’s rim drives warmer surface water into the colder depths, causing surface temperatures to remain below the storm threshold. The concept has been successfully tested in computer models, but is awaiting funding for large-scale field testing.


Fast-Acting Fixes


Those responding to disasters require infrastructure ranging from airstrips to wi-fi, but much of what they need is likely to have been destroyed or disrupted by the time they arrive. Enter inventions such as a wi-fitower providing instant, reliable telecommunications but still fitting in a standard airline suitcase when disassembled, buildings that can be erected in less than a day and afterwards used as sterile medical facilities, and chemical analysis kits costing only about $10 to build (computer not included).


Numerous other inventions are available or in development to provide people with the necessities of water, shelter, medical care and food in the aftermath of an earthquake or other disaster. Many of them will allow aid agencies to do more with less, freeing up personnel by being easy to use and install, or transport by being extremely lightweight as well as modular or collapsible, meaning that they can be delivered to their destination via air or light vehicle instead of requiring a working road or rail network. 


How Safe is Vaping?


It’s a strange world when cigarettes have to be charged and phones are prone to catching fire. Vaping is one of the fastest-growing “lifestyle” activities, boasting its own specialized retail outlets, competitions and other community activities. In many ways, vaping lives in a regulatory gray area: how should vaping juices and paraphernalia be taxed, and should children be allowed access to them? At the same time, the debate surrounding e-cigarettes and their associated health risks is taking place against the backdrop of a market in products intended to help people stop smoking that’s worth $3 billion, as well as a tobacco industry that pays upwards of $13 billion in excise taxes alone.


Vaping Versus Smoking


For obvious reasons, vaping is naturally compared to smoking cigarettes. As far as public health is concerned, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco are all far less important. The nicotine in vaping liquids – many of which are nicotine-free – is identical to that found in nicotine replacement gum or dermal patches.


As it happens, one of the advantages of vaping is that it apparently helps smokers to quit, or at least reduce their consumption of tobacco. Many start the vaping habit with nicotine-laced mixtures but soon discard these in favor of herbal or other flavored blends. At the very least, this reduces the aggravation people around them are forced to suffer. To a dedicated vaper, calling what they do “smoking” is so inaccurate as to be offensive. 


The substance they inhale truly isn’t smoke, but rather consists mostly of water vapor with some other chemicals added. Some of these chemicals are indeed harmful, but are found in much lower concentrations than what is present in cigarette smoke. In fact, the British Royal College of Physicians has gone on record to state that e-cigarettes are far, far less harmful than the traditional kind and are therefore to be recommended to those that currently smoke. In general, the scientific consensus appears to be that vaping may be bad for you, but it certainly doesn’t entail anything near the amount of risk that traditional smoking does. Even when vaping liquids contain nicotine, they are not associated with the several thousand other potentially harmful chemicals found in ordinary tobacco smoke.


Children and Vaping


In Florida, the popularity of e-cigarettes amongst teens has increased fivefold since 2011, to the alarm of public health officials. The vaping industry has been accused of targeting their marketing towards younger people, especially by offering their products in candy-like flavors such as cherry and caramel. The lack of a burning sensation in the throat and an unpleasant odor may indeed be making vaping more attractive to the youth, and it can conceivably play the role of a “gateway” drug, although this remains to be proven. What is certain, however, is that illegal drugs such as cannabis can be “smoked” with vaping equipment.


On the other hand, the increase in vaping among the younger generation also coincides with historically low levels of tobacco use in the traditional sense, making it difficult to conclusively determine whether the effects of e-cigarettes have been good or bad from a public health standpoint.


A Political Football

Few politicians have ever lost votes promoting public health – or at least giving the impression of doing so. While it took decades for tobacco products to be controlled and taxed to the extent they are now, state and national legislators seem to be acting with alacrity against the possible threat of vaping.


Unlike with smoking tobacco, though, the science on vaping as a health risk is far from clear-cut, especially when it’s considered as an alternative for adults who currently smoke. Despite the enthusiasm with which lawmakers are trying to get vaping products to be treated in much the same way as traditional cigarettes, they may be hurting rather than helping public health. The vaping industry lobby, such as it is, has little political influence, while the most vocal politicians aren’t necessarily the most scientifically educated.




Using e-cigarettes will do nothing good to your body, but they are indeed an effective way to stop smoking. As a method of harm reduction, for individuals as well as in a wider context, they are most likely very beneficial, but on a societal level vaping is still seen not as the lesser of two evils, but just the same evil in a different shape.

Breakthrough Discovery in Predicting Autism in Later Childhood

Autism is a childhood mental condition that affects language skills, social behavior, and actions or behaviors that gets repeated overtime. Such behaviors are observable when the child reaches 2 years old and this leads to the diagnosis of the condition. Recently, a medical breakthrough in detecting the probability of having autism in a child in the future has been introduced through the use of MRI scan.

Source: dai;

“Many teens with autism – boys and girls alike – don’t pay close attention to the social examples and cues of their classmates and peers. As a result, many need help understanding that these behaviors are important.”  –Stormi Pulver White, PsyD. 

A study published in Science Translational Medicine introduces the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 6-month-olds to reveal how the different regions of the brain are connected and synchronized. Eventually, these images will be able to predict the babies who are at high risk of developing autism by the time they reach 2 years old.

The research was able to highlight the presence of a second type of brain biomarker as early as 6-month-old and will be used as part of the diagnostic toolkit in determining if the child will have autism, even before the symptoms starts to appear.


The study involved examining the neural activity of the 230 different brain regions of babies. From these images, the researchers were able to detect how various brain regions were synchronized with each other. Synchronous brain regions are indications of coordinated brain activities that are critical for cognition, memory, and behavior.

“Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.”  Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT explained. However, researchers were then able to develop a computer program called machine lister classifier which will be sorting through the variances in synchronization of the mentioned key brain regions.

Participants in this research study were 59 babies with an older sibling with autism. Genetics play a role the development of autism, so with this, it is expected that there is about one baby who will develop autism in every five babies in the study. Later on, it was known that eleven of the 59 babies went on to develop autism.

The computer program successfully predicted babies who would later meet the criteria for autism at two years of age using the MRI data.


Implications of the study

Prevention is better that a pound of cure. This is an old time saying that it is better to undergo steps in preventing a medical condition to develop from happening. In the case of autism, detection as early as 6-month-old is considered an achievement. This will allow clinicians and health professionals identify and plan treatment to improve outcomes.


“Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes difficulties in many areas, with varying degrees of severity, most notably with social interaction and communication.”  Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. For parents, this study will provide an emotional stability or assurance if their children have a lesser chance of developing autism in later life. For parents whose children with high risk of developing autism, the diagnosis may be devastating, however, it will help the parents prepare for the medical treatment that children should receive and as early as it is detected, the chances of having a positive outcome is also highly achievable.

As senior author Joseph Piven, MD, the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, and director of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, reported, “The more we understand about the brain before symptoms appear, the better prepared we will be to help children and their families.”


The Role of Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders

Imagine yourself in a dark room walking towards an open hallway. Your heart is racing as if it’s going to explode from your chest. Your throat is dry and you can barely call out or shout for help. You need to get out from this room as quickly as possible! While you are thinking of a plan to escape, a soft calm voice is coaching you that it’s okay and you’ll be able to get out. No, you’re not imagining things. This is actually your therapist monitoring your physiological responses towards the stimulus that you are involved as of the moment. You are in a virtual reality environment and undergoing a therapy session to help your fear of dark places or achluophobia.


What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality, developed in MIT in the 1960’s, was first used in training pilots to fly planes. Later it was used in computer gaming technology where until now its gaining popularity and getting far more advanced as the year progress.

The concept of using virtual reality as therapy for some mental disorders has come a long way from its theoretical inception, to development of various simulations specific for mental conditions, testing it to specific group of patients, and up to present time where enhanced virtual environments brought about by the advances in information technology are now being considered as effective. But note that “Balancing technology use with other aspects of daily life seems reasonable, but there is a lot of conflicting advice about where that balance should be.” Christopher J. Ferguson Ph.D. in clinical psychology said.

To put it simply, virtual reality in psychiatry is the immersion of the patient to a computer generated environment creating a true-to-life experience about their mental health conditions. Guided with a professional therapist or psychiatrist, the patient will be able to face these fears and overcome them successfully.

Conditions helped by virtual reality

Two decades ago, scientists and researchers have introduced this technology to help manage anxiety disorders and phobias. Anxiety disorders and phobias like fear of open and closed spaces, heights, spiders, elevators, thunderstorms, flying, driving, and speaking in public have shown great improvements through the help of virtual reality. 

“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” –Jim Taylor Ph.D.

Other conditions where virtual reality is being utilized is among substance abuse disorders and addiction problems like smoking. It is also beneficial as cognitive rehabilitation among autistic adults and children to help them develop necessary skills in performing activities of daily living.

Virtual reality is also used among persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like soldiers who just came from war or heavy encounter and individuals who experienced traumatic events like rape, loss of a loved one, etc.

In patients with major thought disorder like schizophrenia, virtual reality is being used to present and help patients control symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, illusions and delusions.

Presently, research and science development has introduced the use of virtual reality technology among patients having Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and chronic pain disorders. 

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What to expect during virtual therapy session?

The therapy usually involves six to twelve treatments depending on the response of the patient in each session. An informed consent is obtained from the patient to undergo the treatment process. This will be followed by an explanation of the whole process and what to expect during the virtual reality sessions as a preparatory activity to help allay anxiety. 


The patient is then assisted to wear a head mounted display that will show a 3D visual-audio scenario, and at times can include smells and vibrations to make it more realistic. The whole system is equipped with physiological monitoring device to record the responses of the patient in terms of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressures and even oxygen saturation. Variations in vital sign readings will indicate how well the patient is responding to the simulation. 

Simulations can be stopped if the patient can no longer tolerate and responds abnormally to the given scenario. However, it is the goal of virtual reality to help the patients overcome their fears in a controlled and safe clinical environment, thereby, an encouragement and motivation to go on until this is resolved is being carried out. This process is called desensitization.

Just like any treatment procedures, virtual therapy does not present a 100% positive response. Some patients will experience and report virtual reality induced sickness during their initial session. This is characterized by nausea, dizziness, headache, eye strain, and inability to maintain balance and coordination.

“Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.” – Chris Corbett, PsyD.

The future of virtual reality

There is an endless possibility on the use of virtual reality in psychiatry and help treat or manage mental health disorders. It is now projected that virtual reality can be useful in forensic psychiatry and crime-related situations. 


If before the patient is required to go to the medical facility where the virtual reality is set up and performed, now there are available headsets in the market where they can simply buy for personal use and have the virtual reality encounter at their own homes. Nonetheless, patients should be instructed that a clinical and controlled setting with an available professional therapist or psychiatrist is still highly recommended. This is to ensure that the sessions are done appropriately, can respond immediately to any changes that will occur during the sessions and to document treatment response of the patient. 

In the future, the therapist can monitor the patient remotely using telemedicine and will continue to observe and evaluate effectiveness of treatments while at home.