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  • Writer's picturetraceymbrittain

How EMDR Therapy Is Used to Treat Depression


Are you among the millions navigating the rough waters of depression? Struggling with feeling lost, aimless, and perpetually exhausted, and yet unable to find a way out? You're far from alone, and more importantly, there's hope.


One of the most effective and transformative therapies for managing depression today is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). It might sound like a mouthful, but this innovative approach is helping people reframe and reclaim their lives, and it might just do the same for you. Join me as we delve into the world of EMDR for depression, and reveal how it's changing the landscape of mental health treatment.


What is Depression: Understanding Its Impact and Symptoms


Depression is a mental health disorder that's far more than just feeling a bit low or sad. It's a profound, often debilitating condition that influences every aspect of an individual's life. Depression has a significant impact on a person's emotions, thought processes, behaviour, and even physical health.


Understanding the symptoms of depression is the first step in managing it effectively. Typically, these symptoms last for at least two weeks, though many individuals suffer for much longer.


Signs of Depression


One of the main signs of depression is a persistent sense of sadness, despondency, or emptiness. This may be accompanied by a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. Even those as simple as reading a book or meeting a friend for a chat.


This is not simply a case of 'the blues' or a passing mood. It's a deep-seated feeling that can seem inescapable.


Sleep patterns are also typically disrupted. Some individuals find themselves sleeping far more than usual. Others battle with insomnia.


Both can contribute to feelings of exhaustion and lethargy which can make even basic daily tasks seem like insurmountable challenges.


Many people with depression also experience significant changes in appetite and weight. Some may find themselves eating far more than usual, while others lose interest in food entirely. Either can lead to considerable weight loss or gain.


Cognitive changes are another significant symptom. Depression often leads to difficulties in:

  • Concentrating

  • Remembering

  • Making decisions

Those with depression might find it hard to focus on a task or conversation, or may forget important dates or responsibilities.


The Potential Impacts of Depression


Depression also often comes with a sense of worthlessness or guilt. Those suffering may fixate on past failures or blame themselves for things that aren't realistically their responsibility. This can lead to recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, a symptom that should never be overlooked.


The physical impact of depression can include aches, pains, cramps, or digestive problems that don't improve with treatment. These can add to the emotional turmoil and create a cycle that is hard to break without appropriate support and intervention.


Exploring EMDR Therapy


EMDR therapy is a potent tool in the battle against depression. It's a unique approach that can help individuals manage and navigate their symptoms of depression. So, what exactly is EMDR therapy and how does it work?


EMDR therapy is based on the premise that our brains have an innate ability to heal themselves, much like our bodies do with physical wounds. But sometimes, traumatic events or persistent stressors can block this natural process. That's where EMDR comes in.


When you undertake EMDR therapy, you work closely with a trained therapist. During the session, you're asked to bring to mind a distressing memory or issue.


As you hold this in mind, the therapist guides you through a series of eye movements. The purpose of these movements is to stimulate both sides of your brain. This can help to reduce the intensity of distress associated with these memories.


It's not fully understood why this works, but studies show it can be highly effective. It's thought that eye movements might help to kick-start your brain's natural healing process. By doing this, EMDR therapy can help to reduce the emotional impact of traumatic memories and symptoms of depression.


Treatment Plans Involving EMDR Therapy


But it's important to note that EMDR therapy isn't just about eye movements. It's part of a broader treatment plan, and it includes phases of preparation, processing, and consolidation. During the preparation phase, your therapist will equip you with self-management strategies to ensure you feel safe and supported throughout the process.


Processing involves identifying and working through traumatic memories. While the consolidation phase is about integrating these experiences into a healthier perspective. This approach allows for a comprehensive treatment of depression.


EMDR counselling plays a crucial role in this treatment. You're guided and supported by a professional who is trained in the EMDR technique. They create a safe and secure environment in which you can explore traumatic memories or triggers related to your symptoms of depression.


How EMDR for Depression Works


EMDR for depression is not merely a theory. It's a therapy that has proved its worth in numerous clinical trials and in the lives of many who have grappled with depression. But how exactly does EMDR work for depression?


Depression often arises from unresolved traumatic or distressing experiences. Our brains are designed to process these experiences naturally, but sometimes they get stuck. This can lead to symptoms of depression.


EMDR for depression works by helping your brain to process these experiences fully.

In EMDR therapy, a trained therapist guides you to recall the disturbing event while you undergo bilateral stimulation. Typically in the form of eye movements. This can help your brain to reprocess the experience and reduce its emotional impact.


It's a bit like defragmenting a computer hard drive. It can make your thought processes more efficient and reduce the symptoms of depression.


While it might sound daunting to revisit these experiences, rest assured that counselling for depression, and specifically EMDR therapy, is a gentle process. Your therapist will work with you to ensure that you feel safe and supported throughout.


They'll provide coping strategies to manage any distress that arises and will guide you gently through the process. This makes EMDR for depression a safe and effective option for many.


It's also important to note that while EMDR was originally developed to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, its effectiveness is not limited to this condition. The breadth of its application has expanded, and it is now used widely in counselling for depression. This is because depression often involves distressing memories or thoughts, which EMDR can help to process.


The Effectiveness of EMDR for Treating Depression


Does EMDR work for depression? For those who seek relief from depressive symptoms, this question is of paramount importance. And the answer, according to multiple studies, is encouraging.


Clinical trials have provided valuable evidence supporting the effectiveness of EMDR as a depression treatment. One comprehensive study compared the effectiveness of EMDR and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating depression.


The study found that both therapies significantly reduced depressive symptoms. Still, EMDR had a slightly higher effect size. This suggests it might be slightly more effective for some individuals.


Furthermore, an extensive review of 26 studies indicated that EMDR can significantly decrease depressive symptoms. There was also a high level of treatment effect maintained at follow-up. This suggests that not only does EMDR work for depression in the short term, but its effects can also be long-lasting.


While these studies are promising, it's important to remember that everyone is unique. What works best as a depression treatment varies from person to person. EMDR is a powerful tool, but it's just one of many approaches to managing depression.


If you're considering EMDR for depression treatment, it's crucial to find a skilled and experienced therapist. An EMDR professional can guide you through the process. They can ensure you feel safe and supported at every step.


The right therapist can tailor the therapy to your unique needs and ensure you receive the most effective treatment possible.


It's also worth noting that EMDR doesn't involve medication. This can be a significant benefit for those who can't or prefer not to use antidepressants.


It also tends to work more quickly than some other therapies. This can mean less time in therapy and a faster return to feeling like yourself.


Counselling for Depression: Where to Begin?


Deciding to seek counselling for depression is a crucial step towards recovery. It may feel intimidating, but remember that your therapist is there to support and guide you, not judge you.


Start by researching the various types of therapy available. CBT, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and EMDR therapy are among the many options for depression treatment.


Private counselling can provide personalised attention in a safe, confidential environment. Look for a professional who specialises in treating depression and has strong credentials.

It's also important to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. The relationship you build with them plays a vital role in the success of your treatment.


Embracing Hope: Your Next Steps in EMDR Therapy


If you've been searching for a solution to cope with depression, there's hope in therapies like EMDR. Depression is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a condition you need to face alone.


In my practice, I offer a range of therapeutic methods to assist individuals with their struggles. This includes EMDR for depression. Each person is unique, and it is essential to tailor treatment plans to meet individual needs and circumstances.


Reaching out for help is the first step towards healing. Why not take the next step now? I invite you to book your 20 minute free call, and let's explore how we can work together to create the positive changes you seek in your life.

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