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Does EMDR Work For Anxiety?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing—EMDR for short—is a relatively new interactive psychotherapy technique. Thought to relieve psychological stress, this technique has gained momentum in the last few years for treating various kinds of psychological pressure. As advancements continue to be made in the field of psychology, many people are finding alternative strategies to combat PTSD, depression, and psychological stresses without medication. This leads us to wonder, “Does EMDR work for anxiety?”

What is Anxiety?

By definition, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Accurate as this definition may be, we each have our own definitions of anxiety. We also have our own triggers and reasons for worry. Oftentimes anxiety can be illogical. However, this does not less the impact of the stress. 

For those who consistently experience anxiety in their daily lives, overcoming anxiety can be a challenging task. Panic attacks, panic disorders, and anxiety disorders have become common in modern society. Studies suggest that social media and social pressures can often serve as triggers. These triggers make anxiety disorders more common than ever before. Therefore, knowing what anxiety is and how detrimental it can be to one’s life helps in figuring out how to combat it.

How Does EMDR Therapy Help Anxiety?

In short, EMDR attempts to reduce symptoms of trauma by changing how the brain stores memories. When a person experiences trauma or develops PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), they can become susceptible to repeated bouts of anxiety. This anxiety can be brought on by memories, external triggers, or other influential factors.

EMDR therapy works in the following way: an EMDR therapist leads a patient through a series of rapid, side-to-side eye movements while the patient is verbally recalling traumatic events. The theory is that by undergoing these rapid eye movements while recalling stressful triggers, one learns to cope with the memories and enable the brain to stop seeing the memories as stressors.

As a result of EMDR therapy, the brain will know how to appropriately and calmly process a trigger. In the case of anxiety, the brain can, thanks to EMDR, recognize, filter, and respond to triggers without the stress those triggers might otherwise cause. So does EMDR work for anxiety? 

What Types of Anxiety Can EMDR Therapy Help Treat

EMDR therapy was first developed with the hope that it might combat the pressures and stresses of PTSD. That said, studies suggest that EMDR therapy can be effective in treating common anxiety and other mental health issues. This is especially true when some form of trauma intertwines with the existing anxiety or mental health concern.

It’s not 100% transparent exactly why the therapy works. However, many experts believe it involves the head-on confrontation of traumatic memories, rather than burning them deep in one’s subconscious. By directly confronting these traumatic experiences during EMDR therapy, the brain can process the event separate from the emotional trigger response. In essence, the brain teaches itself to react calmly in the face of stressors. By dimming the trauma of the memory, one is able to blunt the automatic psychological response. 

This leads us to answer the question, “Does EMDR work for anxiety?” In practice, EMDR therapy has treated various forms of anxiety. It has also been successfully utilized to treat panic disorder, psychosis, depression, and PTSD.

What Can You Expect With EMDR Therapy

The EMDR therapy process involves a few key steps to develop for a person a lasting healing experience. First, one meets with a therapist to discuss treatment options as well as health history. This gives the therapist a strong understanding of the individual’s situation. Next comes the preparation phase. This involves the use of various coping techniques and other methods to make the process as smooth as possible. 

A person begins treatment after the assessment phase, in which specific memories are analyzed. Treatment involves guided sessions with a therapist, doing various mental health exercises, calming techniques, EMDR techniques, and effective desensitization. After completing the treatment phase, one will continue to see their therapist during the re-evaluation phase. This phase is in place to ensure the treatment worked. 

Seek Anxiety Treatment Today in Tennessee

Here at Tennessee Valley Recovery, we are waiting with open arms to help you reclaim your independence from dependency. Located in Knoxville, TN, we provide a tranquil environment conducive to healing. By generating multiple pathways to improving each individual’s quality of life, we seek to give those suffering from substance abuse and mental health conditions lasting long term recovery. There has never been a better time to give yourself or your loved one the help they deserve. Contact us today, and let us help you take the first step in your individual recovery journey.