EMDR Might Help Adolescents Process Depression Due to Life Changes

EMDR Might Help Adolescents Process Depression Due to Life Changes

Depression can be caused for a number of reasons in adolescents. Hormonal changes, chemical imbalances, genetic predisposition, and reaction to life changes. Making social transitions through adolescence and teenagehood can involve a lot of ups and downs. In youth, it also seems to be the time when the parents of adolescents are creating life changes for their children. Divorce, death, arguments, moving, and more can cause what is called “adjustment disorder”. When depression or symptoms of depression result from an adolescent’s inability to adjust or cope with life transitions, it can raise new issues. According to a study on EMDR in treating adolescent depression on NCBI, “Depression in adolescents is associated with increases in the risk of suicide and substance abuse, poor psychosocial and academic functioning, and frequent comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders.” There is a 14% rate of adolescent depression turning into lifelong major depression.

The researchers utilized EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, for treating teenagers experiencing symptoms of depression due to life changes. To the knowledge of the researchers, their study was one of the first to use EMDR to treat adolescent depression, specifically. “As depression is closely associated with negative life events,” the researchers write, “we hypothesized that processing the stressful memories preceding the onset of depression may reduce symptoms.”

What Is EMDR?

EMDR is one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. The process uses “bilateral stimuli” to activate and rebalance the brain, which increases the brain’s ability to process information. Processing difficult memories in trauma is part of what causes negative symptoms. By stimulating the brain in addition to working through symptoms, the process helps alleviate symptoms and put haunting memories to rest.

Did The Study Work?

Using EMDR on the adolescents to aid in processing the negative memories they were experiencing “brought about symptomatic improvement,” the researchers explained. The effectiveness of EMDR in treating depression suggests that life transitions or stressful events could cause depression in adolescents, which could be a contributor to the development of substance use disorders. Substance abuse is often a form of coping. For adolescents with untreated symptoms of mental health issues like depression, substance abuse is a way to escape challenging feelings. However, considering the suggestion that depression might be caused by stressful life adjustments, it might be that adolescents turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their inability to cope with memories of how difficult things are for them at the time.

 

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