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EMDR for Depression


Around 7% of American adults experience depression each year, and it's the most common cause of disability worldwide. It's most commonly characterized by low energy and feeling hopeless or stuck although it can also present itself in frequent and intense feeling of anger.

Is EMDR an Effective Treatment for Depression?

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. In fact, between 80% and 90% of people who receive treatment for depression report positive results and experience a significant improvement in their symptoms. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is one of the most effective tools we use to support clients with depression at the EMDR and Counseling Center. 

Depression is often complex and has many contributing beliefs that need to be addressed with EMDR. Treatment effectiveness depends on several factors, including the severity of your condition and how many belief systems need to be changed in order for the depressive symptoms to alleviate.

How Is EMDR Therapy Used to Help Treat Depression?

The first step in treatment is identifying the underlying thought processes and negative beliefs that cause or exacerbate your symptoms. Many people with depression report persistent thoughts of being unlovable, useless, hopeless, or have other negative beliefs. These beliefs cause the depressive symptoms and are the focus of treatment with EMDR. We will choose a negative belief to target with EMDR and focus on it until the negative belief no longer feels true. Then we will replace the negative belief with a positive belief which will serve to create positive feelings in your life in place of the previously negative ones.

For example, a depressed client starts therapy and identifies several negative beliefs they hold about themselves with the help of a clinician. Say these beliefs are "I'm worthless", "I'm a failure", and "I can't do anything right." The clinician and client would choose one belief to work through at a time until the belief is no longer relevant and a positive belief replaces it. By the time all of the negative beliefs have been processed through and changed, the client should no longer experience depression and should be far less likely to ever become depressed again due to their new positive belief systems.

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