EMDR as a treatment for long‐term depression: A feasibility study


Current treatments for long-term depression - medication and psychotherapy - are effective for some but not all clients. New approaches need to be developed to complement the ones already available. This study was designed to test the feasibility of using an effective post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for people with long-term depression.

A single-case experimental design with replications was undertaken as a feasibility study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in treating long-term depression. Methods: Thirteen people with recurrent and/or long-term depression were recruited from primary care mental health services and given standard protocol EMDR for a maximum of 20 sessions. Levels of depression were measured before and after treatment and at follow-up, clients also rated their mood each day.

Eight people engaged with the treatment; seven of these had clinically significant and statistically reliable improvement on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Daily mood ratings were highly variable both during baseline and intervention.

EMDR is a feasible treatment for recurrent and/or long-term depression. Research on treatment efficacy and effectiveness is now required.

Practitioner points:
EMDR may be an effective treatment for depression. EMDR could be considered if first-line approaches (CBT and counselling) have been tried and failed. EMDR may be particularly helpful for service users with a history of trauma.






Emily F. Wood
Thomas Ricketts
Glenys Dean Parry

Original Work Citation

Wood, E. F., Ricketts, T., & Parry, G. D. (2018, March). EMDR as a treatment for long‐term depression: A feasibility study. Psychology and Psychotherapy Theory Research and Practice, 91 (1), 63-78. doi:10.1111/papt.12145



“EMDR as a treatment for long‐term depression: A feasibility study,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 23, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24673.

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