Autoimmune Disorders

EMDR therapy addresses the root cause of autoimmune disorders.


Our Immune System Is Compromised With Trauma

Living in a constant fight, flight, or freeze hyper-vigilant state, causes our bodies to pull resources from our digestive, immune, elimination, and higher brain systems. Stress hormones inhibit the immune system and impact the entire body often presenting as headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and pain.  Constant wear like this on the body compromises the immune system causing it to overreact.

“After trauma the world is experienced with a different nervous system. The survivor’s energy now becomes focused on suppressing inner chaos, at the expense of spontaneous involvement in their lives. These attempts to maintain control over unbearable physiological reactions can result in a whole range of physical symptoms, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other autoimmune diseases. This explains why it is critical for trauma treatment to engage the entire organism, body, mind, and brain.”
― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Resetting the Immune System

When trauma happens the immune system’s memory network relives the event.
The adaptive immune system may learn something is dangerous even when it is not.  We can target these systems with EMDR because, like the brain, the adaptive immune system can learn and unlearn information.

EMDR Canada Conference 2023

The Brain, the Body, and Trauma: Integration with EMDR Therapy
Presentation – EMDR Canada 2023

The immune system and the nervous system work in similar ways and they can share information with each other. Both the nervous system and the immune system have memory networks.

I’ve seen amazing results with my protocol developed into a combination of these concepts:

  • AIP (Francine Shapiro)
  • The 7 Primary Emotional Systems Theory, (Jaak Panksepp)
  • Katie O’Shea and Sandra Paulson Where There Are No Words
  • The Textbook of Immunopsychiatry by Khandaker, G., Harrison N., Bullmore, E. and Dantzer.

Stress, The Immune System, and The Brain

The definition of stress has evolved over time from predation and natural disasters to economic insecurity to interpersonal conflicts.

In the past, stressors were only acute (fight, flight, freeze) and now less “life-threatening”,  more persistent, and chronic, and those previously labeled as “trivial” are acknowledged as stressors as well.

Stress and the immune system and its response to stress can influence the production, activation, and mobilization of immune cells-Chronic stress.
More evidence suggests that chronic stress induces a vulnerability to psychiatric disorders by altering neural circuitry.

Stress-induced changes in brain structure impact cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus morphology.

The Immune System Impacts Mental Health

There is an overlap between physical sickness and depression symptoms including somatic responses such as fatigue, foggy brain, and sleep disturbance.
Immune activation can quickly bring about these depression-like symptoms and rapidly accelerate a network of brain areas that are very similar to those associated with stress and depression.
Understanding what determines the risk of depression following immune activation could be important for further developing targeted strategies for treatment and prevention of inflammation-related depression.

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