top of page
EMDR-Zone Logo

EMDR in the Treatment of Medically Unexplained Symptoms: A Systematic Review

Written by: van Rood, Y. R., & de Roos, C. (2009).

Edited by: EMDR-Zone Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised, if you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 898. Free, private support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

EMDR decreases pain intensity for patients with chronic pain, fatigue and trouble sleeping, with psychological symptoms reduced by up to 50%.

Seek relief from unexplained symptoms. Up to 50% reduction with EMDR.

Introduction to Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS)

Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) are a prevalent and perplexing issue in the healthcare sector. These symptoms, which often lack a clear medical cause, account for a significant proportion of consultations in both primary and secondary care settings. Patients suffering from MUS experience a decline in their quality of life, comparable to those diagnosed with well-defined medical conditions. The process of diagnosing MUS is intricate, primarily based on excluding other medical conditions rather than identifying specific positive criteria.

Somatoform Disorders and MUS

MUS, when causing significant distress or disability, are categorized under somatoform disorders as per the DSM-IV-TR classification. This broad category encompasses conditions such as somatization disorder, undifferentiated somatoform disorder, and conversion disorder. However, this classification has faced criticism due to its potential implication of symptoms being purely psychological, without considering the complex interplay of factors involved.

MUS and Comorbidity

A significant overlap exists between MUS and various psychological disorders. Anxiety and mood disorders frequently co-exist with MUS, with PTSD showing a particularly strong association. Many patients diagnosed with MUS often exhibit pronounced PTSD symptoms, suggesting a potential link between trauma and the manifestation of unexplained medical symptoms.

Evidence-Based Treatment for MUS