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Open Access Assessment of Psychophysiological Stress Reactions During a Traumatic Reminder in Patients Treated With EMDR

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Abstract:

This study investigates changes of stress-related psychophysiological reactions after treatment with EMDR. Sixteen patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following type I trauma underwent psychometric and psychophysiological assessment during exposure to script-driven imagery before and after EMDR and at 6-month follow-up. Psychophysiological assessment included heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) during a neutral task and during trauma script listening. PTSD symptoms as assessed by questionnaire decreased significantly after treatment and during follow-up in comparison to pretreatment. After EMDR, stress-related HR reactions during trauma script were significantly reduced, while HRV indicating parasympathetic tone increased both during neutral script and during trauma script. These results were maintained during the follow-up assessment. Successful EMDR treatment may be associated with reduced psychophysiological stress reactions and heightened parasympathetic tone.

Keywords: EMDR; HEART RATE; PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM; PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY; PTSD

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1891/1933-3196.1.1.15

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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  • The Journal of EMDR Practice and Research is a quarterly, peer-reviewed publication devoted to integrative, state-of-the-art papers about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a broadly conceived interdisciplinary journal that stimulates and communicates research and theory about EMDR, and their application to clinical practice.
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