Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for adolescent depression

Psychiatry Investig. 2008 Mar;5(1):60-5. doi: 10.4306/pi.2008.5.1.60. Epub 2008 Mar 31.


While cognitive behavior therapy is considered to be the first-line therapy for adolescent depression, there are limited data on whether other psychotherapeutic techniques are also effective in treating adolescents with depression. This report suggests the potential application of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for treatment of depressive disorder related, not to trauma, but to stressful life events. At present, EMDR has only been empirically validated for only trauma-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Two teenagers with major depressive disorder (MDD) underwent three and seven sessions of EMDR aimed at memories of stressful life events. After treatment, their depressive symptoms decreased to the level of full remission, and the therapeutic gains were maintained after two and three months of follow up. The effectiveness of EMDR for depression is explained by the model of adaptive information processing. Given the powerful effects observed within a brief period of time, the authors suggest that further investigation of EMDR for depressive disorders is warranted.

Keywords: Adolescent; Depression; Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing; Major depressive disorder; Psychotherapy.