Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach that is an effective treatment for victims of past trauma and distressing life experiences. It can be hard to heal from past trauma, and if left untreated, some people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.
Addiction is a complex disease that creates physiological and chemical changes in the brain. People who struggle with addiction might also suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Effectiveness of EMDR Treatment
According to the EMDR Institute, the effectiveness of EMDR treatment in some studies shows that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD symptoms after only three 90-minute sessions. EMDR also affects how the brain processes information. After EMDR therapy, a client will still remember the trauma, but it is less upsetting.
EMDR can treat unprocessed memories of adverse experiences quickly and has important implications for the medical community. These memories appear to be the foundation for a broad spectrum of clinical health symptoms. This includes various psychological problems that affect patients and family members, stress-induced physical disorders, and other medically unexplained symptoms.
How EMDR Therapy Works
According to the American Psychological Association, EMDR therapy incorporates eye movements and other forms of rhythmic left to right stimulation using tones or taps. While clients briefly focus on the trauma memory and simultaneously experience bilateral eye movement stimulation, memory’s vividness and emotion are reduced.
Post-traumatic stress affects the brain and disrupts the way information is processed. EMDR treatment changes how the brain processes information.
EMDR therapy appears similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. That means EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less upsetting way.
Trauma and the Brain
Remembering the trauma can feel just as painful as the original traumatic experience because the senses become trapped in time. The images, sounds, smells, and feelings are the same as when the trauma initially occurred. These memories have a lasting negative impact that can interfere with all aspects of a person’s life.
According to Dr. Francine Shapiro, a senior research fellow at the Mental Research Institute and director of EMDR Institute, “When working appropriately, the innate information processing system “metabolizes” or “digests” new experiences. Incoming sensory perceptions are integrated and connected to related information that is already stored in memory networks, allowing us to make sense of our experience.” What a person learns is stored in memory networks with appropriate emotions. Current experiences must link with memory networks to be interpreted. If there is an unprocessed memory, negative emotions and reactions can emerge and cloud a person’s perception. (EMDR Europe).
A disturbing incident can become trapped in its own neural network in the brain, unable to connect with other memories that hold adaptive information. Often, the memory of the trauma is forgotten as time goes on. However, when the memory is stored in a stressful form, painful feelings such as panic, anger, or despair are triggered in the present by internal and external stimuli. This causes intrusive and unpleasant thoughts, severe anxiety, nightmares, and other reactions.
EMDR and Other Mental Health Conditions
EMDR can also be used to treat other mental health conditions. Panic attacks, grief, stress, phobias, depression, abuse, and dissociative disorders can be treated with EMDR. When mental health complications co-occur with addiction, both conditions need to be treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best outcome in recovery.
In EMDR treatment, the memory is aligned correctly while the brain is stimulated. The memory is transformed into a learning experience, and negative emotions can be morphed into a positive sense of self and mindfulness.
Children also suffer from traumatic experiences, which often come in the form of abuse, neglect, loss, and grief. This can lead to PTSD, anxiety, depression, or dissociative disorder and puts a child at risk of self-harm, substance abuse, or addiction. EMDR therapy is an effective therapy for treating children and adolescents.
Treatment is Available
Mental health conditions and substance use disorders are treatable, and recovery is possible. The COVID-19 pandemic can also amplify depression, anxiety, and isolation. If you or a loved one suffers from mental health complications or addiction, do not wait to get help. At Achieve Concierge, we believe in a mind, body, spirit approach to treatment and help our patients discover the best ways to manage their mental health.
Traumatic experiences can provoke symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can be used to treat traumatic experiences. As you bring up traumatic memories, your eye movement is directed from left to right. During EMDR therapy, you allow your brain to go through its natural healing process. While traumatic memories will remain, they will not have the same effect on you. If left untreated, mental health disorders can lead to drug or alcohol use to cope. Treatment is available, and there is hope in recovery. These conditions can make you feel isolated, but you are not alone. Sometimes, the stigma surrounding mental health disorders prevents people from getting the help they so desperately need. At Achieve Concierge, we answer your questions, do not rush through appointments, and make you feel comfortable with our caring and dedicated staff. We offer same-day appointments as well as telemedicine appointments. For more information about our services and treatment modalities, call (619) 393-5871.