EMDR for depression: A systematic review of controlled studies


Depression is one of the most common mental disorder, with huge societal costs. Although psychotherapy and medication can improve remission rates, the success rates of current treatments are limited. Given the recent research indicating that trauma and other adverse life experiences can be potential risk factors for depression. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been considered effective also in the treatment of depression.

The aim of the present systemic review was to summarize current literature on EMDR efficacy in patients with depression.

A literature review was undertaken using PubMed, Cocharne Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, PsychINFO, and CINAHL.  Further resdearch was performed on the precialized Francine Shapiro Library Collection.  Controlled studies with depression as a primary outcome published up to March 2017 were included.

Seven studies were included, of which 6 were published.  They cover years from 2001 to 2016.  Three studies used a controlled design and four were randomized clinical trials.  Studies differ gratly for population and intervention characteristics, with a scarce methodological quality.

Controlled studies evaluting the efficacy of EMDR in treating depression as a primary outcome are few and with various methodological flaws.  Despite further, better designed research is needed, current evidence suggests that EMDR could be a promosing therapy to treat depression.






Sara Carletto
Luca Ostacoli
Nicoletta Colombi
Luca Calorio
Francesco Oliva
Isabel Fernandez
Arne Hofmann

Original Work Citation

Carletto, C., Ostacoli, L., Colombi, N., Calorio, L., Oliva, F., Fernandez, I., & Hofman A. (2017, October). EMDR for depression: A systematic review of controlled studies.  Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 14(5), 306-312



“EMDR for depression: A systematic review of controlled studies,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 19, 2022, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24695.

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