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Efficacy of EMDR Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

Written by: Faretta, E., & Dal Farra, M. (2019)

Edited By: EMDR-Zone Editorial Team

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EMDR: The next frontier in treating anxiety disorders, known for its significant symptom reduction and swift recovery.

Feeling trapped by anxiety? EMDR shows up to 90% symptom reduction.

Introduction to EMDR and Its Application to Anxiety Disorders

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has gained significant attention over the past two decades. Six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) spanning 22 years have been dedicated to understanding its efficacy in treating anxiety disorders in adults. Originally developed as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), EMDR has shown promise in addressing and significantly modifying traumatic memories. The foundation of EMDR lies in the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model proposed by Shapiro in 2001. This model theorizes that unprocessed traumatic or stressful experiences, especially those from early life, can hinder coping mechanisms and increase vulnerability to future stressors, potentially leading to disorders like PTSD and anxiety.

EMDR's Potential in Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) manifests as persistent, excessive worry about various events or activities. While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and applied relaxation are the standard treatments, EMDR offers a novel approach. It operates on the premise that GAD might be rooted in a series of disturbing experiences throughout one's life. Although only preliminary studies have been conducted, they hint at the potential benefits of EMDR for GAD, emphasizing the need for more rigorous controlled trials.

Addressing Social Anxiety Disorder with EMDR

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by an overwhelming fear or anxiety in social situations, often stemming from the fear of being judged. While traditional treatments focus on exposure to the anxiety-inducing situation, EMDR seeks to resolve memories of past stressful social events that might have triggered or exacerbated the disorder. Although comprehensive controlled trials on EMDR's efficacy for SAD are lacking, individual case reports and its application to related conditions, such as performance anxiety, suggest its potential benefits.

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