Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Reduces PTSD Symptoms

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress.

In a meta-analysis of clinical trials published in PLoS One, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing was shown to reduce the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with a longer duration of treatment correlating with better outcomes.

The study authors evaluated 26 randomized controlled trials that evaluated the use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in patients with PTSD. Outcomes included the effects of treatment on PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD (effect size measured with Hedges' g -0.662), depression (g -0.643), anxiety (g -0.640), and subjective distress (g -0.956).  

Compared with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatments lasting ≤60 minutes, procedures that lasted >60 minutes had significantly greater effects for depression (P =.007) and anxiety (P =.045). Groups led by therapists with experience in PTSD group therapy demonstrated larger improvements in depression compared with groups led by therapists without that experience (P =.007).

The investigators concluded that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing "may be helpful for treating PTSD and depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients. We determined that therapists experienced in PTSD group therapy and a duration of treatment [>60 minutes] per session also contributed to reductions in the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients."

Reference

Chen YR, Hung KW, Tsai JC, et al. Efficacy of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing for patients with posttraumatic-stress disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2014;9(8):e103676.

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