In Depth: COVID-19 self care and EMDR therapy


Dr. Lynn Ianni, a Marriage and Family Therapist, joins FOX 11's Hal Eisner to talk about self-medicating during the pandemic lockdown. Recent studies have shown an uptick in substance abuse since the pandemic began. Ianni says people are using any method possible to mitigate their anxiety, boredom and depression.

Ianni says it’s not just alcohol, but also pills and other drugs across the board and that the rate of substance abuse is something she’s never seen before. She explained it is only getting worse. "Pandemic fatigue" has set in and people no longer necessarily have jobs or social interactions to distract them as they once did.

She says that people’s levels of resilience have been tested and they’re exhausted, so they are turning to methods that help in the long term but are damaging in the long term. She says that people need to turn to other remedies: physical activity is important and using virtual methods of staying connected or getting counseling is critical. 

Secondarily, any kind of meditation or self-education helps people feel more in control so that they aren’t tempted to use a "quick-fix" solution. She says she is not surprised that the rate of suicide has increased because there is so much that they have lost.

Domestic violence has also increased because people get frustrated when they are frightened and angry and they don’t have outlets, so they lash out. The anxiety is likely to get worse during the winter for people in colder climates.


Dr. Lynn Ianni joins Hal again to talk about EMDR therapy, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. She says it is a technique that allows treatment for a single adult trauma, such as an accident, war, or attack, and is now being used on long-term traumas that may have started in childhood. 

The reaction to those traumas can persist long-term as the brain tries to protect itself by engaging in a type of fight-or-flight mechanism. So the goal of the therapy is to attempt to allow the trauma to be detached, so the person can "re-parent" themselves and respond more appropriately when they perceive similar triggers in their environment.

What Ianni calls "sequential trauma" or something like this pandemic, is still trauma, even though it is not a "capital T" trauma. The goal of treatment is to allow people to go back to the place where they were traumatized in their mind so they can hold on to little vibrating paddles, or use a bi-lateral stimulation pattern such as moving lights. That way, a person’s left and right hemispheres of the brain can be connected enough to allow logic and reason to counteract the part of the brain that is terrified. 

That allows the brain to make a conscious choice rather than just reacting instinctively. The therapy can even be performed virtually or in a Zoom meeting. Ianni says this therapy can help alter the negative patterns that once may have been useful in childhood, but are no longer appropriate in an  "adult"  situation.


Jake Steinfeld, the CEO of Body by Jake, joins Hal to talk about fitness at home during the pandemic. He says a lot of people are struggling because the gyms are closed, the yoga studios are closed, and people aren’t able to maintain their usual exercise routines. That too can lead to depression, he says.

Steinfeld says when he started his workout career in the 1970s, he would go to people’s homes and just use a broomstick and a towel as workout gear. He says the point is that you don’t need any elaborate fitness gear, simply getting active and using resistance is the best way to feel better both physically and mentally.  

Jake says that home fitness is great because people feel most comfortable at home. He says the best way to get motivated is to change the words "I can’t" to "I can."

Anything can be used for resistance exercises from water bottles to cans of food.  He says he’s made a living making fitness fun.


We close with the "Keep Going On" song.