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Comparison of EMDR and CBT as Adjunctive Treatments for Recurrent Depression

Written by: Ostacoli, L., Carletto, S., Cavallo, M., Baldomir-Gago, P., Di Lorenzo, G., Fernandez, I., ... & Hofmann, A. (2018).

Edited by: EMDR-Zone Editorial Team

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EMDR outperformed CBT in symptom reduction, with 71% vs. 48.7% at intervention end, and 54.8% vs. 42.9% at 6-month follow-up.

Find immediate, lasting relief for depression with EMDR.

Introduction and Background

Depression is a pervasive mental health challenge that affects over 300 million individuals worldwide. Recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a primary cause of global disability, depression's impact on individuals and communities cannot be overstated. The condition not only affects the emotional well-being of individuals but also has significant socio-economic implications. While various treatments are available, their effectiveness varies, and there remains a substantial portion of patients who don't respond adequately. Furthermore, the intricate relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and recurrent depressive disorders has been increasingly acknowledged, suggesting that trauma-focused interventions might offer a more targeted approach.

The Role of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR, developed in the late 1980s, initially aimed to address traumatic memories. Over the years, its application has expanded, and it's now an empirically supported treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The underlying principle of EMDR is the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. This model posits that distressing events, when not adequately processed, are stored in a dysfunctional manner, leading to various psychological disorders. EMDR facilitates the reprocessing of these memories, making it a potentially revolutionary approach to treating recurrent depression.

EMDR vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has long been a cornerstone in the treatment of depression. However, with evolving understanding and methodologies, the study aimed to juxtapose the efficacy of EMDR against CBT, especially in the context of recurrent depression. It's worth noting that both these treatments were adjunctive, meaning they were supplementary to the standard antidepressant medication (ADM) that patients were receiving.

Study Design and Setting