Will EMDR “Cure” My PTSD?

PTSD is a severe mental disorder that affects nearly 8 million Americans every years. Though about half of the population (60% of men and 50% of women) will experience one form of trauma in their lifetime, a small fraction of those will have severe symptoms that can inhibit daily life and be carried with them for years, even decades. PTSD can be caused by all types of trauma, from witnessing combat or death to experiencing sexual assault or child abuse. 

One theory as to why PTSD causes such crippling symptoms is because the memories and emotions of the events are not properly processed, but instead inflict severe emotional pain onto the person. In the days and weeks to follow the traumatic event or events, the person is in shock. Oftentimes, they do not fully come to terms with the event which can cause symptoms of PTSD later in life. Some of these symptoms include: 

  • Intrusive thoughts, memories, or dreams
  • Avoidance of triggers (including not being able to go to work, visit certain places, or do certain normal activities because they are triggers)
  • Depression or other changes in mood
  • Changes in physical or emotional reactions to certain stimuli 
  • Panic attacks
  • Flashbacks

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective form of psychotherapy treatment for PTSD. EMDR works to retrain the brain by processing these memories in a controlled environment. The therapy involves stimulating parts of the brain through eye movements, finger tapping, or auditory stimulus. A therapist will ask you questions about the trauma while using these stimulating activities to help you reorganize and understand the traumatic memory using all parts of the brain. This helps to “unstick” the memory and allow you to process it in a healthy way. 

EMDR works differently for everyone. Like most psychotherapy options, it is not a “cure” for PTSD for everyone. Some patients might feel relief of symptoms after three or four sessions, while for others it may take longer.

If you are interested in trying EMDR therapy for your PTSD symptoms, contact the Reboot offices today!