How Effective Is EMDR for Depression Treatment?

One of the many problems associated with depression is the belief that there is no way out of the doom-and-gloom. In other words, hopelessness.

If you have depression, then you know this feeling. You might have even tried counseling before, but it didn’t work. And those setbacks have only added to that sense of hopelessness.

What winds up happening is you develop a belief that there is nothing that you can do to fix the problem. It’s always going to be like this. But, does it have to be?

Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is a strategy that can be used for depression. Yet, how effective is this treatment?

The Basics of EMDR

EMDR is a treatment method that, at its essence, utilizes eye-movements in conjunction with guidance from a therapist to help you process traumatic memories.

The therapist starts by taking a detailed history of your issue (in this case, depression) and how it has affected you. They are not judging you or trying to discount your experience. Rather, they aim to tailor the EMDR treatment for your needs specifically. At the same time, they also teach you coping methods to handle the strong emotions that will likely come up during treatment.

Then, in session, the therapist will ask you to bring up a memory from the past that has been causing you distress. As they guide you through experiencing the memory, they’ll pass a finger, pen, or similar object back and forth in front of you. Your eyes follow the object while you allow yourself to experience the emotions evoked by the memory.

Similar to what happens during REM sleep, the physical act of tracking the finger allows your brain to reprocess the traumatic memory. Over time, it becomes less distressing, to the point that it no longer is triggering for you.

Why EMDR Can be Effective in Treating Depression

Depression is a complicated problem. The reason why is that the source of depression can come from a variety of means. Certainly, biology does play a role. If you had a parent that struggled with depression, then there is a chance that you might develop it as well.

However, depression also arises due to life experiences. These life experiences often are the result of trauma that you’ve endured. It could be a major loss or witnessing a violent act. Or it could be trauma that is experienced repeatedly.

All these experiences may cause you several beliefs:

In some cases, the depression may stretch so far back that it’s all you’ve ever really known. It’s become a way of life for you. And it seems like life without depression is something you can’t even imagine.

What makes EMDR so effective for depression is that you now have power over what’s happening to you. You have the ability, and even permission, to feel those emotions and memories that you have been struggling with for so long.

With the help of the eye movements, your brain is able to finally process and store-away, if you will, those memories and thoughts.

After you’ve completed EMDR treatment, they no longer are at the forefront of your mind. Yes, they still exist. After all, they are your lived experience. But now they don’t have to drag you down. It’s like a burden that has finally been released.

Avail Yourself of a Powerful Tool

EMDR is a powerful tool that focuses on healing. It’s not meant to drag up old memories that you’d rather forget. Instead, it’s about putting those memories to rest. And with that you no longer have to be defined by those thoughts, allowing your depression to finally lift.

If you are interested in how EMDR can work for your depression, I invite you to contact us 256-686-9195

 
 
Author
Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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