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After trying out the Oculus Quest I’m suffering a sickness affecting my real life very negatively

Level 2

TL; DR is at the bottom


I’m 26 years old, male, from Germany and have been playing video games and working on a computer pretty much my entire life. Never had a problem working for several hours on my PC. I even played Monster Hunter World for 16 hours a day, because it was so addicting. No problems occurred. I’m in my third semester of studying Information Design, so working with computers is just daily stuff for me. I do get sick when driving as a passenger in a car (I don’t have a driver’s license, never needed one) and I get sea sick being on a ship. I’m also near-sighted. I can’t look far into the distance but I can get through normal daily life without using my glasses. 

A month ago I bought an Oculus Quest to try out before playing Half Life Alyx. I chose it over the Rift S because of the IPD range, mine is about 56 or 57. I was excited to get it and enjoyed the little time I had with it, but my disappointment is huge because I have gotten some kind of sickness from it. And not just the regular VR sickness, where I get sick while playing VR games. I know you can build tolerance to this kind of sickness. 

I get sick doing normal things in life now and I’m freaking out a bit.

Before trying out the Quest I was able to normally play videogames a lot, being on the phone, doing stuff on my laptop for studying, etc. The only game I have ever felt nausea and had to take a break after an hour of playing was Mirrors Edge Catalyst. The first one was completely fine for me. Fast paced games like Titanfall 2, Doom, etc. were never a problem for me. Now I can’t play any of them. It started with dizziness while playing. I started to feel the form of dizziness, when you stand up from bed too quickly in CS GO and Rocket League after playing for 20-30 minutes. After a few days it got worse and instead of dizziness I started to feel something like a knot below my belly button after 10-15 minutes, twisting after a while of playing and hurting a lot. For Doom Eternal I pushed it too hard and tried to play for more than 2 hours, ignoring the pain. The following nights were awful, I got cold sweat, I couldn’t just fall asleep, something woke me up directly afterwards, I felt a cold around my heart. After two nights, it started to feel better but my belly felt damaged. Took me a week to kind of feel alright again but the problem persisted. My stomach hasn’t felt truly healthy since I started using the Quest, if I’m honest. I haven’t done any exercises either since then. I didn’t see much of a difference playing with glasses and the glasses spacer and contact lenses, so I used my normal eye sight for the majority of time.

Here’s the thing though: It wasn’t my first VR experience. I tried out VR for the first time about 2 years ago at a friend’s house and got to play The Lab, Superhot VR and Beat Saber for about 15 minutes each on an HTC Vive. 1 year ago I played it again (Beat Saber) for about 15 minutes, with no issues afterwards. 

It’s not just videogames now. I get sick from slight visual stimulations now, like watching my smoothie moving in the mixer (I’m serious). Dizziness and cold sweat are what I felt. I was able to read comics at least when I wasn’t able to play games but now that doesn’t work either. Getting dizziness looking at black and white pictures. Same with watching videos on my phone or just scrolling through the internet. Even writing this text on my laptop causes disturbance in my belly and especially scrolling my page, where the text becomes blurry affects me badly. Strangely, as I’m writing this text here, a spot complains that is between where my right leg and my abdomen are connected, additionally to some belly growls. Usually it’s below my belly button or on the left side. I had to take several breaks writing this text. It seems all kinds of movements and animations cause me to create and build up a nausea feeling. It feels I have trouble processing what I see through the eyes. And everything slightly disturbing goes right into my belly hurting or/and creates dizziness for me. Including just staring at the screen and even listening to music. Games and quick movement still affect me the largest.

What creates an uneasy feeling in my belly, nausea or dizziness now:

  • Reading books (left-right eye movements)
  • Staring at a computer screen
  • Surfing on the internet (scrolling, window animations, etc.)
  • Listening to music
  • Videos and Movies
  • Watching my smoothie getting mixed
  • Reading comics
  • Playing video games (PC, Nintendo Switch, etc.)
  • Generally working in front of a computer screen

What I did so far:

  • I already gave the device back and haven’t used VR for the past two weeks.
  • Eating candied ginger and drinking ginger tea
  • Going to my doctor: Couldn’t find much, told me to use standard medicine and it would go away after a while, I should rather pinpoint movements, rather than slowly move the eyes from A to B. I went to him when my belly cooled down though
  • Urine and blood results: Urine had slightly more proteins and my blood had uric acid at its limits, but nothing out of the ordinary
  • Eye-doctor: Routine check, everything is fine with my eyes, he said
  • ENT: My ears and my vestibular system are fine as well according to the doctor I went.
  • Neurologist: Scanned brainwaves, everything is fine
  • Lying uselessly in bed for several days not doing anything with electronics hoping it would go away (did not work)
  • Trying to build resistance by taking more breaks when using something. The effect of nausea and dizziness occurs too often and too quickly to really improve the situation. And I didn’t even play games when I tried this.

Notable things that have occurred:

  • Never had diarrhea since getting the Quest, water beam is as clear as it can get, so I’m not exactly ill
  • Playing games in the week where the problem started, it felt like dizziness first, after some days it changed into a spot below the belly where it twisted and hurt every now and then when continuing to push
  • I suffered something like a whiplash in the morning of the second or third day after getting the Quest. My brain was still adjusting to the effects of VR (walls closing in, words popping out of texts, etc.) I stretched myself in bed and moved something between the scapula and my spine. Felt like a bolt of lightning moving through a nerve into the back of my head, couldn’t move my neck for two days.
  • My friend who also gets car sick got himself a Valve Index and told me that he only felt nausea when playing games in the first two days. He was able to run around in VRChat for 5 hours before feeling anything afterwards and he is not suffering the effects that I have, when using computers or smartphones. Everything is fine for him.
  • I was able to play Half Life Alyx for about an hour before I gave it back. Playing a normal game like Animal Crossing or Doom Eternal would give me a bad feeling in the belly in less than 10 minutes. In Alyx it all occurred much later, probably because my brain thought that it was just a reality like real life, since I don’t suffer issues doing normal things.

What I’m trying next: 

  • At the moment I’m using pills for travelling to do some sort of therapy myself. I have to stop using them after 3-4 days
  • I will start exercising again, I haven’t done any sport ever since I bought the Quest
  • Additionally, I will try exercises against dizziness (balance board for example)
  • Perhaps getting a colonoscopy, my doctor has not given me a referral yet

My university is starting again in less than two weeks. I have already done two vacation semesters because of depression. If I’m unable to work with computers until then I will probably be thrown out. I really didn’t expect to suffer such a huge problem when using VR and I couldn’t find much online of people suffering similar heavy problems. It’s pretty much a handicap that is affecting my life at the moment as I’m required to use a computer for several hours a day. My parents are obviously furious about this. We both wish I never bought and used the device because everything was fine prior to the use. Their workplace is affected by the Coronavirus and me being useless now won’t help the current situation much.

Any suggestions, help and further advice is helpful. I really hope it’s not permanent, but I have no idea how to get rid of it either.

TL; DR: I’ve been playing videogames and using computers for 15 years with no problemsGot myself the Quest after experiencing VR for the first time on an HTC Vive twice in the past two years. Side effects are so badly that I’m now unable to play videogames, watch movies, work with computers, etc. Nausea and dizziness start to occur very quickly (less than 10 minutes), depending how intense or fast something is. Eyes feel too strained when looking at movement as if I’m unable to process movement properly. From smoothie mixing to surfing on the internet (scrolling pages where the text gets blurred) and even to playing slow paced games like Animal Crossing, everything kind of gives me dizziness, nausea, or hurting my belly which never occurred before in my entire life. Tried several things as listed above. 




Level 2

I wrote a whole reply and it didn't post. I have no idea why but, I'm pissed off about it. I'm experiencing some of the same issues. Never had an issue with vertigo or chronic motion sickness my entire life. After buying and using the Quest 2, I now seem to have vertigo and I get motion sick very easily. When it first started happening, I couldn't look at my iphone without getting nauseous. Scrolling the internet on my PC also made me sick. I had to turn off motion effects on my iphone just to use it and then use it only for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time. I also had to turn down my mouse sensitivity and my monitor refresh rate to be able to play DOOM Eternal. I'm better now but, it scared the crap out of me. I've since turned everything back up to where it was.  I still have a newfound vertigo problem that I need to see someone about (ugh).. The dev team and health people for Oculus and VR in general need to be looking into the negative side effects of using VR. It's crazy and upsetting that you did all of that testing and haven't gotten any definitive results back. I'm sorry you're in that situation. I honestly wouldn't have bought a headset if I knew this was going to happen. I still use my headset but make sure I take frequent breaks and I'm careful about what content I use with it. $500+ is too much money for me to just "let it go" but, I'm still worried.. What an issue to have.

Goddamnit, now I wrote a huge reply to you and it didn't make it through. Here is a short version of everything.


First of all, it sucks that you suffered such a problem as well. Sorry for this late reply, didn't see that somebody replied this year to this.


Only recently (in April this year) I have found out by myself that I have possibly made a traumatic experience with a VR headset (in this case, an Oculus Quest 1). I couldn't find anything online, I searched so much but all I could find are just minor things like nausea following the usage or helping traumatized people with a VR-Headset not a traumatization caused by a VR-Headset. Anything that reminds me in some way of the experience with the headset causes negative reactions in my body and it's unfortunately almost everything. It's difficult to read, no movies to watch, my subconsious is linking everything that looks like a screen with the headset, I can't look at camera movement of any kind anymore, no exposure towards small screens or mirrors, no games to play, no music to listen to, no audiobooks, no loud noises, I can't train or doing sports, etc., etc. My physical and mental condition back then was far away from fine and my body/brain must have used the experience with the headset to compensate with my condition and caused a trauma with my first real VR experience. I think my continuous use with it for additional days didn't make it worse, it all happened very slowly after all and my mentioned difficulties didn't happen all at once. If I had really understood what happened there, I would have stopped immediately, but I think the damage was already done right on the third day of using the headset.


What helped me in some way were antidepressiva like Mirtazapine and Opipramol. They didn't fix my problem but they have helped a bit. Haven't found a solution yet, unfortunately.


I'm unable to find help (no psychologists/psychatrists) in my area and my problem just keeps getting worse and worse. I would have never bought the headset as well, if I knew about the risks. I did so much research back then and then it backfired so hard.

Not applicable

Hey bud. It's when you start or stop taking anti depressants then you get like vertigo.  Nothing to do with oculus

Not applicable

Taking them help because that's what is causing your vertigo is not taking them. You really really need to get into a doctor to talk abut your meds. It's irresponsible to not know the side effects of drugs your taking.

Thanks for your replies but it's unfortunately not what you think it is. When I acquired this problem back in March 2020, I couldn't do anything for an entire month, not even read a book. Everything gave me panic attacks and other negative reactions when I exposed myself to anything screen-related. Even for a few minutes.


It's when I got Mirtazapine a month later that made things instantly better but it didn't get rid of it. My senses restarted and I could be on my computer again but movement on screen was still a problem. The Opipramol that I got this year helps suppressing the panic attacks better. I'm aware that I need to get off these medicaments and get actual therapy but I can't find any at the moment but I'm still trying. I have also read online that anti-depressiva are used for war veterans who suffer traumas, I think that explains why it has a positive effect on me. I can't even sleep without the Mirtazapine and it was much worse before taking it at all. 10 minutes of PC would result in an entire week of strong sleeping problems. The daily exposure in front of a screen or reading something is too much for my body and I need it too cool down my body reactions. 


I also don't get vertigo of any kind anymore (like the kind of vertigo similar to sea sickness for example), my body just reacts in negative ways (stinging stomach pain for example) instead when I expose myself to something. Anything that reminds my body of the headset or the experience (holding a book in front of me and reading it) causes these negative reactions. The heaviest reactions are smartphone screens, because they are the size of the VR headset. Even if I expose myself to one just for a few seconds in front of me I get: Extremely loud heartbeating/racing, headaches, strong sweat outbreaks, trouble breathing, etc., and the strongest sleeping problems that I have ever had in my life. I think that's how flashbacks feel like. 


I have tried short therapy sessions at a naturopath (not a doctor) and it immediately made my situation worse. My 4 hours per day were reduced down to 1, despite taking the same medicaments. Then the second session reverted it back to the old condition. I broke it up afterwards, fearing it could backfire again. At least I learned there that I can influence my condition.


My post up there is a very short summary of my case but I documented it over several months in a longer write up and have sent it to Oculus. I'm awaiting a reply, though I believe that they won't be able to help me much. Valve told me they have never heard of a case like this before and aren't aware of any link between headsets and my condition. I believe that it was too many coincidences + some bad luck that resulted in me suffering this trauma through the headset. The headset isn't the root but it caused my body to react in this way. It's why I'm possibly the first to suffer this. 


Like I wrote here, before taking the medicaments I couldn't do a single thing, not even eating properly. My stomach reactions were so strong that I lost like 8 kg (17 pounds) in a single month. And then I got the Mirtazapine and that stomach pain immediately vanished and I could finally sleep normal again. My situation has gotten worse and the medicaments help less and less, but they still help me in some way. I also don't like taking meds for such a long time but there is currently no way out of it. Multiple doctors have told me that at least the Mirtazipine is a well tolerated med.


I appreciate your concern though. It's not like I love taking the medicaments. I know I need to get rid of them but I need to find help first. There is one conversation that Im going to have in 3 weeks at a clinic which might take me in to help me.

I've been trying to respond here for months! There's a bug that won't let you log in to this site and then, won't send the password reset when you ask for it- even though it says it has sent it. Anyway... I'm logged in again so, situation resolved. 


Onto why I'm here. I was diagnosed with visual vertigo. It's when you get vertigo symptoms from what your eyes see and not so much from what your body feels. I know it was an accurate diagnosis because, they all but cured all of my symptoms. It's a vestibular disorder and to treat it, you need to seek out vestibular rehabilitation. They will help you tame your symptoms by slowly reintroducing you to triggers and then stopping when the sensation becomes too much. This is called habituation therapy. Please ask about it. It may be the one things that helps you. I went through 4 months of hell and feeling like I'd never be able to function again and, now I can actually use my headset again. They don't know what caused the problem. I think new exposure to the headset and the way the lenses treat your eyes, coupled with me starting pc gaming on a very fast monitor all at the same time, wreaked havoc on my vestibular system. It didn't help at all that I was exposing myself for hours at a time, on consecutive day.  I hope this helps!! 


TL:DR Seek out Doctor's who specialize in Otolarynthology and vestibular disorders. You can find more info on the site for VEDA. Ask for a therapists who specializes in vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Good luck!!