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Open Access Changes in Psychological Symptoms and Heart Rate Variability During EMDR Treatment: A Case Series of Subthreshold PTSD

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Elevated psychophysiological parameters and heightened physiological reactivity to trauma-related cues are acquired changes following trauma exposure. Measuring improvement in these variables is an appropriate evaluation of outcome in treatment studies. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a computerized measure of physiological responsivity derived from Holter ECG recording. Four female outpatients with persistent post-traumatic symptoms and personal impairment following "small t" trauma exposure underwent a course of EMDR treatment and were assessed at baseline, end of treatment, day 30 and day 90 of follow-up, using self-report symptom scales and 90-min Holter ECG recordings. Symptom scores decreased between baseline and end of treatment, with improvement maintained at follow-up. Several HRV measures changed favorably in different recording intervals. HRV is a feasible and sensitive method to measure physiological changes in the treatment of individuals distressed by "small t" trauma. Further investigation is advisable to expand these preliminary data.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-02-01

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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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