Scary monsters: how virtual reality could help people cope with anxiety

Guardian science correspondent is put to the test in the panic-inducing VR world of a game that teaches breathing technique

Tethered to a chair, in a gloomy basement, I’m doing my best not to panic – by breathing in for four seconds, holding for seven, and slowly releasing for eight. But when a bloodthirsty monster appears at my feet and starts crawling towards me, I don’t need a dial to tell me that my heart is pounding, and I’m in imminent mortal danger.

Welcome to the future of anxiety treatment: a virtual reality (VR) game that teaches you a breathing technique to help calm your nerves, and then pits you against a monstrous humanoid that wants to eat you, to practice deploying it in genuinely panic-inducing situations.

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