Neurobiological Features and Response to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Patients with Breast Cancer

Background: Breast cancer (BC) is one of the most common invasive types of cancer among
women, with important consequences on both physical and psychological functioning.
Patients with BC have a great risk of developing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but
only few studies have evaluated the efficacy of psychological interventions to treat it.
Furthermore, no neuroimaging studies have evaluated the neurobiological effects of
psychotherapeutic treatment for BC-related PTSD.
Objective: The study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and
Reprocessing therapy (EMDR) as compared to Treatment as Usual (TAU) in BC patients with
PTSD, also identifying by EEG the neurophysiological changes underlying treatments effect
and their correlation with clinical symptoms.
Method: Thirty patients with BC and PTSD diagnosis were included, receiving either EMDR
(n=15) or TAU (n=15). Patients were assessed before and after treatments with clinical
questionnaires and Electroencephalography (EEG).
The proportion of patients who no longer meet criteria for PTSD after the intervention and
changes in clinical scores, both between and within groups, were evaluated. Two-sample
permutation t-tests among EEG channels were performed to investigate differences in Power
Spectrum Density between groups. Pearson correlation analysis was carried out between
power bands and clinical scores.
Results: At post-treatment, all patients treated with EMDR no longer met criteria for PTSD,
while all patients treated with TAU maintained the diagnosis. A significant decrease in
depressive symptoms was found only in the EMDR group, while anxiety remained stable in
all patients. EEG results corroborated these findings, showing significant differences in delta
and theta bands in left angular and right fusiform gyri only in the EMDR group.
Conclusions: It is essential to detect PTSD symptoms also in patients with BC, in order to
offer proper interventions. The efficacy of EMDR therapy in reducing cancer-related PTSD is
supported by both clinical and neurobiological findings.

Tipo Pubblicazione: 
Author or Creator: 
Carletto S
Porcaro C
Settanta C
Vizzari V
Stanizzo MR
Oliva F
Torta R
Fernandez I
Coletti M
Mojah M
Pagani M
Ostacoli L
The European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies,, Amsterdam , Svezia
European journal of psychotraumatology (2019).
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Carletto S, Porcaro C, Settanta C, Vizzari V, Stanizzo MR, Oliva F, Torta R, Fernandez I, Coletti M, Mojah M, Pagani M, Ostacoli L/titolo:Neurobiological Features and Response to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Tre
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Ritratto di Marco Pagani
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