A Randomized Clinical Trial of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Fluoxetine, and Pill Placebo in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Trauma Center, Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, MA 02446, USA.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 02/2007; 68(1):37-46. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.v68n0105
Source: PubMed


The relative short-term efficacy and long-term benefits of pharmacologic versus psychotherapeutic interventions have not been studied for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study compared the efficacy of a selective serotonin reup-take inhibitor (SSRI), fluoxetine, with a psychotherapeutic treatment, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and pill placebo and measured maintenance of treatment gains at 6-month follow-up.
Eighty-eight PTSD subjects diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria were randomly assigned to EMDR, fluoxetine, or pill placebo. They received 8 weeks of treatment and were assessed by blind raters posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, DSM-IV version, and the secondary outcome measure was the Beck Depression Inventory-II. The study ran from July 2000 through July 2003.
The psychotherapy intervention was more successful than pharmacotherapy in achieving sustained reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms, but this benefit accrued primarily for adult-onset trauma survivors. At 6-month follow-up, 75.0% of adult-onset versus 33.3% of child-onset trauma subjects receiving EMDR achieved asymptomatic end-state functioning compared with none in the fluoxetine group. For most childhood-onset trauma patients, neither treatment produced complete symptom remission.
This study supports the efficacy of brief EMDR treatment to produce substantial and sustained reduction of PTSD and depression in most victims of adult-onset trauma. It suggests a role for SSRIs as a reliable first-line intervention to achieve moderate symptom relief for adult victims of childhood-onset trauma. Future research should assess the impact of lengthier intervention, combination treatments, and treatment sequencing on the resolution of PTSD in adults with childhood-onset trauma.

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    • "Adequate assessments of each outcome and adequate selective outcome reporting were performed in all of the RCTs. Intention-to-treat analyses were conducted in three studies [7], [25], [32]. Research-quality scores of eight, seven, and six were determined for seven, twelve, and six studies, respectively. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background We performed the first meta-analysis of clinical studies by investigating the effects of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy on the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients treated during the past 2 decades. Methods We performed a quantitative meta-analysis on the findings of 26 randomized controlled trials of EMDR therapy for PTSD published between 1991 and 2013, which were identified through the ISI Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature electronic databases, among which 22, 20, 16, and 11 of the studies assessed the effects of EMDR on the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress, respectively, as the primary clinical outcome. Results The meta-analysis revealed that the EMDR treatments significantly reduced the symptoms of PTSD (g = −0.662; 95% confidence interval (CI): −0.887 to −0.436), depression (g = −0.643; 95% CI: −0.864 to −0.422), anxiety (g = −0.640; 95% CI: −0.890 to −0.390), and subjective distress (g = −0.956; 95% CI: −1.388 to −0.525) in PTSD patients. Conclusion This study confirmed that EMDR therapy significantly reduces the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients. The subgroup analysis indicated that a treatment duration of more than 60 min per session was a major contributing factor in the amelioration of anxiety and depression, and that a therapist with experience in conducting PTSD group therapy was a major contributing factor in the reduction of PTSD symptoms.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "In contrast, the effectiveness of treatments for child-abuse-related complex PTSD or PTSD with personality disorder (PD), has not been well studied (Bradley et al., 2005; Cloitre, 2009). Some data suggest that immediate traumafocused treatment may be less efficacious and less well tolerated in these populations (Ehlers et al., 1998; Ford & Kidd, 1998; McDonagh et al., 2005; Tarrier et al., 1999; Van Der Kolk et al., 2007). There is a clinical need for suitable treatments for patients with child-abuse-related complex PTSD. "
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    ABSTRACT: In the empirical and clinical literature, complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorders (PDs) are suggested to be predictive of drop-out or reduced treatment effectiveness in trauma-focused PTSD treatment. In this study, we aimed to investigate if personality characteristics would predict treatment compliance and effectiveness in stabilizing complex PTSD treatment. In a randomized controlled trial on a 20-week stabilizing group cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for child-abuse-related complex PTSD, we included 71 patients of whom 38 were randomized to a psycho-educational and cognitive behavioral stabilizing group treatment. We compared the patients with few PD symptoms (adaptive) (N=14) with the non-adaptive patients (N=24) as revealed by a cluster analysis. We found that non-adaptive patients compared to the adaptive patients showed very low drop-out rates. Both non-adaptive patients, classified with highly different personality profiles "withdrawn" and "aggressive," were equally compliant. With regard to symptom reduction, we found no significant differences between subtypes. Post-hoc, patients with a PD showed lower drop-out rates and higher effect sizes in terms of complex PTSD severity, especially on domains that affect regulation and interpersonal problems. Contrary to our expectations, these preliminary findings indicate that this treatment is well tolerated by patients with a variety of personality pathology. Larger sample sizes are needed to study effectiveness for subgroups of complex PTSD patients.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · European Journal of Psychotraumatology
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    • "An investigation of the treatment effects following a 4-month intensive inpatient program of psychotherapy and supportive treatment for PTSD patients revealed that the reduction in symptoms of PTSD had not persisted at 18 months (Johnson et al., 1996). LTFU studies of psychotherapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Edmond and Rubin, 2004; Van der Kolk et al., 2007; Zimmermann et al., 2007; Hogberg et al., 2008), as well as cognitive behavioral and psycho-educational treatments (Solomon et al., 2005; Dorrepaal et al., 2010) show that benefits can be maintained. Practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD accept the need for replication of previous studies, as well as the need for novel treatments, more specifically pharmacological agents that could augment psychotherapy (Benedek et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: We report follow-up data evaluating the long-term outcomes for the first completed trial of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Mithoefer et al., 2011). All of the 19 subjects who received MDMA-assisted treatment in the original trial participated in the long-term follow-up (LTFU), with 16 out of 19 completing all of the long-term outcome measures, which were administered from 17 to 74 months after the original study's final MDMA session (mean = 45.4; SD = 17.3). Our primary outcome measure used was the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Secondary outcome measures were the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R) and the Neuroticism Extroversion Oppenness Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO PI-R) Personality Inventory. We also collected a long-term follow-up questionnaire. Results for the 16 CAPS completers showed there were no statistical differences between mean CAPS score at LTFU (mean = 23.7; SD = 22.8) (t(matched) = 0.1; df = 15, p = 0.91) and the mean CAPS score previously obtained at Study Exit (mean = 24.6, SD = 18.6). On average, subjects maintained statistically and clinically-significant gains in symptom relief, although two of these subjects did relapse. It was promising that we found the majority of these subjects with previously severe PTSD who were unresponsive to existing treatments had symptomatic relief provided by MDMA-assisted psychotherapy that persisted over time, with no subjects reporting harm from participation in the study.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Journal of Psychopharmacology
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