Dr. Fred Friedberg of SUNY at Stony Brook, found 2 sessions of EMDR to be helpful for most fibromyalgia patients suffering from anxiety, depression, fatigue and distress in a small pilot study.

Dr. Fred Friedberg from the Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at State University of New York at Stony Brook investigated the effectiveness of EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing) for relieving the symptoms and side effects of fibromyalgia in a pilot study with 6 female patients (mean age of 43).

Subjects were given two treatment sessions of EMDR, and were assessed with the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, Fatigue Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory. In addition, thermal biofeedback monitoring and subjective units of discomfort ratings of pain, stress, and fatigue were measured during the sessions.

Four out of six subjects were considered treatment responders. Thermal biofeedback monitoring revealed an average increase in hand temperature of 5.4 degrees, indicating a relaxation effect. At treatment termination, average scores decreased on the measures of anxiety (28.6%), depression (29.9%), fibromyalgia impact (12.6%), and fatigue (11.5%). Further improvement was found at the 3-month follow-up assessment, with anxiety at (45.8%) improved, depression (31.6%), fibromyalgia impact (19.2%), and fatigue (26.7%).

The study suggested that, because EMDR produces a somewhat automatic relaxation response with minimal patient participation or effort, it may be especially useful when standard relaxation techniques fail.

Citation: Friedberg F. Eye movement desensitization in fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery. 2004 Nov;10 (4): pages 245-9. [email protected] .