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Use Of Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR) In The Treatment Of Dermatologic Disorders

Madhulika A. Gupta, Aditya K. Gupta

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Background: The use of psychological therapies in dermatology is being increasingly recognized because stress and negative emotions are major factors in a wide range of dermatologic disorders. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new psychological intervention which was first described to be effective in post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition associated with extremely stressful life situations. Objective: We evaluated the efficacy of EMDR in primary dermatologic disorders where psychological stress plays an important part in the pathogenesis of the disorder, and in clinical situations where the dermatologic symptom is the feature of a stress-related psychiatric disorder. Methods: Four patients (two patients with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, respectively, whose symptoms were exacerbated by stress, one patient with acne excoríee associated with body image pathology as a result of childhood emotional abuse, and one patient with generalized urticaria associated with post-traumatic stress disorder) were treated using the standard EMDR protocol with 3–6 sessions for a period ranging from 4 to 12 weeks, and followed up for 6–12 months after the end of EMDR therapy. Results: All 4 patients experienced a marked improvement in their symptoms after 3–6 sessions of EMDR, within a period of ⩽3 months, and maintained improvement during followup periods of 6–12 months. Conclusion: Our preliminary findings suggest that EMDR may be beneficial in the treatment of a wide range of stress-mediated dermatologic symptoms.