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Spice Girl Mel B Reveals Her PTSD Diagnosis, Shows Benefits of EMDR


On Sunday, former Spice Girl and current “America’s Got Talent” judge Mel B disclosed she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is seeking trauma therapy and will enter intensive addiction treatment in the near future.

In a statement to the U.K.’s The Sun, she talked about how working on her memoir, “Brutally Honest,” brought up painful traumatic memories. She candidly revealed her struggle with alcohol and sex addictions, pointing out something that’s common among trauma survivors — masking trauma with maladaptive coping skills like addiction or self-injury.

“Sometimes it is too hard to cope with all the emotions I feel,” she said. “But the problem has never been about sex or alcohol — it is underneath all that.”

Mel B also said she is ready to confront her issues head-on. Not only will this include addiction treatment, but treating her PTSD with therapy. She told The Sun:

I have recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and on August 9, after trying many different therapies I started a course of therapy called EMDR (eye reprocessing) which in a nutshell works on the memory to deal with some of the very painful and traumatic situations I have been through.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a popular treatment for those who have experienced trauma. Psychologist Francine Shapiro developed EMDR in the 1980s after she realized that moving her eyes back and forth alleviated her symptoms and distress. She took this realization and designed a method to treat PTSD and other trauma- and anxiety-based mental illnesses.

During EMDR, a therapist directs the client to focus on a traumatic memory. While thinking about the memory, the therapist has the client move their eyes side to side by following a finger, a moving light or through electric pulses in hand-held paddles that alternate in current from left to right.

EMDR works because your brain experiences the bilateral eye movements or pulses similar to the way it does rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, the brain processes and stores memories and balances mood. A similar process happens during EMDR with trauma. Traumatic memories move through the brain and reach a new resolution, which has been proven to help those with PTSD.

So far, EMDR is working for Mel B. “I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it’s really helping me,” she said.

“I am still struggling,” she added. “But if I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will do. I am speaking about this because this is a huge issue for so many people.”

Header image via Mel B’s Facebook page.