How Does EMDR Help Treat Anxiety?

 

Treatment such as EMDR for anxiety is particularly helpful for certain individuals as it reduces the stress related to reliving traumatic events. EMDR can help to strengthen your self-esteem and connect past and current traumatic events with new positive thought processes. When using 

EMDR for anxiety, treatment is also known to lessen the symptoms of depression, panic disorder, or certain phobias. Our team at Montare Behavioral Health believes in this evidence-based treatment method.  We pride ourselves on helping our patients suffering from anxiety disorders, and other forms of mental illness learn to effectively cope with their conditions and be able to live happily and healthily.  

What Is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an effective treatment option used for individuals that have previously experienced trauma. This therapy is based on the idea that these symptoms occur when the trauma experienced overwhelms the brain’s natural ability to heal.  As a result of trauma, an individual can experience something very slight that will trigger a memory— a thought, image, smell, or sound — that causes distress or anxiety.  In an EMDR session, the therapist will try to safely associate that trauma while facilitating bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is a rhythm that moves in a left-to-right pattern. Some bilateral stimulation a therapist might consider for EMDR therapy includes:

  • Eye movements
  • Hand tapping
  • Audio stimulation

These movements help to reduce the intense emotions associated with memory. In a session, you may find that your therapist focuses on one bilateral stimulation. Eye movement desensitization is the most popular. However, if your therapist uses a different stimulation approach this could mean that your response to EMDR was best when using that certain stimulation method. 

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

In short, a therapist in an EMDR treatment session will direct you to think of a traumatic event in your life. The therapist will then ask you to think of the images, emotions, self-thoughts, and body sensations associated with that trauma. After determining the emotions associated with the event, the therapist will guide you as you complete your first round of bilateral stimulation. At this moment, the therapist will either use eye movements, hand tapping, or audio stimulation. They will repeat the process until you no longer feel adverse reactions to the negative memory.  By completing the bilateral stimulation, you can release your inner anxiety associated with the event and connect it with a lighter positive thought process.

The Process of EMDR Therapy

The process of EMDR therapy is more in-depth than just a therapist using hypnotizing motions. The process involves eight steps that focus on the past, present, and future moments in life. The idea of each step is to address certain emotional triggers or events. Once you have addressed those, you can break away from the repeated actions and feelings associated with your trauma.  There are usually six to twelve EMDR sessions, however, just three sessions can make a big difference. By the end of just one EMDR therapy session, you should feel you have gathered the skills to cope with current and future stressors.

The Phases of EMDR

In the first phase of EMDR, a therapist will attempt to get your complete history; this includes past memories and painful events that cause current stressors in your life. Among the popular uses for EMDR, it can be helpful when a patient experiences symptoms and trauma that are related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  In the next phase, the therapist will ask you to identify and address a painful memory.

Without vocalizing your memory, the therapist will help determine ways to deal with the stress and anxiety that is experienced in those situations. In this type of therapy, the therapist does not usually converse with the client or ask them to describe the trauma. Instead, they rely on your reactions. After determining a painful memory, you will then be asked to identify a positive and negative belief you hold about yourself related to the memory.

For example, if you associate your memory with negative self-images, you can replace it with a positive self-worthy image.  Once you identify memory and the feelings associated with it, bilateral stimulation can actually occur. Through the simulation process, you will continue to focus on those identified feelings and follow the hand or eye movements, and audiovisuals. When finished with your session, the therapist will ask you to discuss any insights, thoughts, memories, feelings, or images that came to mind.

EMDR for Anxiety

EMDR therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, or panic disorder does not differ from EMDR for anxiety. Many mental health disorders require desensitization and EMDR for anxiety is no exception. Many individuals suffer anxiety as a result of their trauma. EMDR for anxiety can help as it aids you in feeling liberated from your past memories.

EMDR Therapy For Other Mental Health Disorders

Although EMDR for anxiety is widely practiced, it can be used to treat a variety of other mental health conditions. Other than EMDR for anxiety, small pilot studies have found this therapy to be especially effective for those that suffer forms of PTSD and psychotic symptoms that arose from trauma. For those that want to consider a form of therapy, studies comparing the effectiveness of EMDR and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have proven that EMDR is just as effective. Both forms of therapy help reduce the symptoms related to anxiety, such as PTSD or panic disorders. Some common mental health disorders or trauma-associated symptoms that can be treated through the use of EMDR or CBT include:

EMDR is particularly effective for agoraphobia when past traumatic experiences are contributing to your current symptoms. EMDR was created to help people deal with and heal from experiences that have caused emotional trauma.  Furthermore, EMDR therapy can be especially beneficial to those who suffer from non-traumatic symptoms such as mood disorders or chronic pain. Those that suffer from chronic pain may also suffer from anxiety and depression which is easily treated in EMDR.  EMDR for anxiety and other mental health disorders can improve the quality of life for any individual just as CBT would. 

EMDR Vs Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Similar to an EMDR session, a CBT session will focus on challenging and changing destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on personality. While both therapies work to unlock certain emotions related to a personal event, they are different. EMDR is less invasive and easier for some as it does not require a constant in-depth discussion about the traumatic event. Completing either one of these therapies requires you to face a hard memory, but by doing so you can “reprogram” your brain. Essentially, this means you will associate the traumatic event with something else, less traumatic, after a treatment session.

EMDR Treatment Benefits

Although created in 1987, EMDR has become widely used over recent years. It’s an accelerated form of therapy that can accomplish results faster than other forms of therapy, such as CBT. By creating a distraction from the memory and associating it with new beliefs, you can start to feel closure related to the situation. After finishing EMDR therapy, you should be able to discuss the positive steps made in the process and identify what keeps you going on a daily basis.  EMDR may be helpful to those who experience forms of:

Your doctor or therapist will guide you in your progress and treatment goals, determining what the next step is in coping with current and future stressors. By taking part in EMDR therapy, many will:

  • Be able to discuss memories more easily
  • Lessen the fear of being alone
  • Put trust in others
  • Feel more sensitive to interactions
  • Sleep better
  • Experience more vivid dreams

These techniques done by therapists should help you unblock emotional processes that have been stagnated by distress. EMDR for anxiety is extremely beneficial to most individuals as anxiety lingers behind a lot of mental health disorders. Even those who do not feel they have apprehension regarding their memory may find they have repressed it.  One can attend EMDR therapy on its own or use it in conjunction with other psychotherapies; popular psychotherapy to combine with EMDR treatment sessions includes CBT. As mentioned above, CBT is similar as it works to associate traumatic events with more positive responses.  If you experience any form of mental illness but don’t know how to approach it, EMDR for anxiety and other mental health disorders can be advantageous. 

Contact Us 

If you suffer from severe forms of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and others, EMDR therapy could be the right option for you. However, your doctor or therapist will determine the best course of therapy and if EMDR is the best treatment option for your particular needs. To better understand the commitment behind EMDR therapy and its relation to anxiety or other mental health disorders, contact us today.

References:

https://www.verywellmind.com/emdr-for-panic-disorder-2584292 https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/emdr-for-anxiety-treatment-what-is-it-and-why-does-it-work/ https://www.psycom.net/emdr-therapy-anxiety-panic-ptsd-trauma/ https://dreamliferecovery.com/how-does-emdr-help-anxiety/