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Emdr After Effects?

Discussion in 'Therapy' started by SarahD, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. SarahD

    SarahD Member

    Yesterday, my therapist and I did our first EMDR session. It went well, though I was exhausted after. She plans for that by insisting some one drive me to and from therapy on EMDR days, at least for awhile. She also told me to take it very easy for the rest of the day. My food anxiety was high after, but it was 3:00 and I hadn't eaten all day, so mom and I stopped for food--I only ate a little, and felt fine after that, better even. Then I went to her house and helped her load and unload a car full of kitchen stuff--she is moving this weekend--but felt I couldn't do any more after that. I came home and just relaxed the rest of the night.

    BUT...I had a hot flash late last night. One of my biggest triggers. I managed to hold off an anxiety attack. But today my anxiety is high and I cry easily. Is this normal? Being hyper-sensitive afterwards? Is it temporary--more specifically--short term? Did I overdo it yesterday, helping my mom? I won't see my therapist again for three weeks--she will be out-of-town--but I can call her anytime I need to. She said next time we will do some processing and IF we do any EMDR it will only be in my safe place. She wants to take this very slow.

    I had been doing really well--and just need some reassurance, I think, that this is normal and will pass.
    smogmonster and Dennis # 121 like this.
  2. Lucycat

    Lucycat "Wisdom begins in wonder." ~ Socrates ~ Premium Member

    I have had EMDR and it is perfectly normal to be completely exhausted afterwards. I am not sure what you mean by a hot flash, but if you mean a flashback that is also not unusual. The memories brought up in EMDR continue to be processed and take up a lot of brain activity immediately afterwards. It is because it is quite intense that one of the 'rules' of EMDR is that you do not get it more frequently than every 7 days.

    I do hope you find it helpful. I certainly have.

    Best wishes,
    Lucy x
    Dennis # 121 likes this.
  3. SarahD

    SarahD Member

    Thanks Lucy. I did mean a litteral hot flash. They trigger my anxiety attacks and are part of my trauma--like a physical flashback, maybe? But my hot flashes can be extremely intense and last for several hours. Luckily last night I remained very calm and did my deep breathing and it subsided in just a few minutes without me going into a full-blown attack. I feel so drained today--and scared. She was hestitant to do our first session before she left town, but we both knew I was ready to proceed. The intensity still caught me off guard I guess... Talking about it, reading about it, studying it...not the same as actually doing it!
    Dennis # 121 likes this.
  4. Dennis # 121

    Dennis # 121 Active Member

    I am currently going through EMDR. I was a police officer and shot and killed a person in self defense. I found exhausted and very angry after my first couple sessions, the anger had to do what what was going on just prior to the shooting, we found why I would get very angry with my spouse. I have had some really vivid dreams since I have started the EMDR. My therapist decided to take a couple week break to let me unwind a little. It is helpful, what you going through is normal. Good luck and stick with it. Make yourself your priority, your the most important person right now in your life.
    Snakedoc702 and Hashi like this.
  5. cat

    cat Well-Known Member

    Hi Sarah

    What you are feeling is perfectly normal for your first session. Although my T warned me, as yours has, it still caught me by surprise, I felt so angry!

    Well done for using your breathing to avoid a panic attack, keep using that & looking after yourself - sleep when you need to, write down what you are feeling then share it with your T at your next session. Treat yourself kindly & you will get through this just fine.
    Dennis # 121 and SarahD like this.
  6. ashdawn8287

    ashdawn8287 Well-Known Member

    I am looking into EMDR therapy. Right now I do cognitive behavioral therapy. This past week has been hard. I have been having hot flashes every night. I blocked out the abuse as a child and only remember a couple things. I am not sure to the extent of my abuse and I am scared EMDR will bring this out.

    I was 4 years old when the abuse happened. I remember being woken up, not knowing who it is, and the feeling I had when I woke up the next day has never left me. I think it's dissociation mainly. I started kindergarten shortly after. I remember being away from school for awhile, but not sure how long. Also, my panic attacks started. I couldn't go to school without holding my sisters hand. I always wanted to be next to my mom.

    I am in search of the truth, because I want to be free.
    Dennis # 121 likes this.
  7. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    ashdawn, I suggest you read the forum Wiki article on EMDR as part of thinking about this - the section on Biology in particular, which says:
    EMDR attempts to force the brain whether it wants to remember or not. So the plus with EMDR being more rapid in treatment brings the biological negative, that a risk is introduced. If screening is effectively carried out, then the treating physician should not treat those with amnesia based trauma or anyone suspected of such trauma.

    Sarah, I don't have EMDR (for the reason above) but I think what you've describe often happens after any kind of processing in therapy. My anxiety gets really high and my energy levels are low. I find it's good to plan ahead so there's nothing I have to do for the rest of the evening. Sometimes I curl up and cry, sometimes I journal furiously, sometimes I watch a DVD to distract myself, whatever I need to do.

    I'm glad the session itself went well. I don't know if you've called your therapist by now, but if she said you can and you still want to, I'd give her a ring. At any rate, next time you see her let her know how you've been, so she can work with you to monitor this and help you as much as possible.
    Dennis # 121 and ashdawn8287 like this.
  8. ashdawn8287

    ashdawn8287 Well-Known Member

    Hashi, thank you. I am so glad I read that article. I don't think I should do it, I can't remember for a reason. I shouldn't force myself. I will always be searching for the truth and hoping one day I can find it, but I do not want to force my brain to do something it can't handle and with the risk of potential damage. I think I will stick with my CBT, for now. See where it takes me. If I want to remember, I think I will. I will just be patient. I don't like the idea of pushing the brain like that.

    It's just a weird feeling to have. To know something very traumatic happen to you, yet you can't remember what was exactly done. I have instances and triggers, but it doesn't go beyond a certain point. I remember being woke up and hands going down there, and then it's this big black blank.

    It doesn't help I probably have complext ptsd, seeing as I have been traumatized over and over again.

    Again, Thank you.
  9. SarahD

    SarahD Member

    It took about 24 hours but I am feeling much better now. My food anxiety is back, which is frustrating because after months of dealing with that I was getting more comfortable with food again. Had dreams last night, which with my meds I don't normally remember, and none of them were related to my trauma. I am taking it easy and not pushing myself to do anything yet...
  10. just me here

    just me here Guest


    I have been treated using EMDR for over a year now, and I am afraid can't tell you it gets any better. It might for you but I still feel many of the things you describe after probably a combined total of 50 to 60 hours of it. I am happy with some of the results, and compared to the drug side effects, the EMDR side effects are a walk in the park for me. The reopening of old wounds and poking around in your memory is a tough, dirty job. My therapist always reminds me at the end of every session of the things we covered during the session and to try to resist dwelling on the unresolved issues we are working on. It's hard to do, I am not good at steering my thoughts away from subjects my problem solving nature wants me to deal with.

    I want to also pass on that after years of talk and drug prescriptions with little or no change, my 2 biggest therapy break throughs have been bio-feedback and EMDR. Knowing how to calm myself using techniques learned in bio-feedback helps me prepare for an EMDR session and calm myself down after one.
  11. therapybankrupt

    therapybankrupt PTSD Survivor Premium Member

    EMDR is considered much like surgery. There is a recovery period after the treatment. My first treatment was the worst and the therapist adjusted things. More front loading for unseen amnesia. I would say I had 2 awful after care recoveries and the rest just knocked me off my feet for twenty four hours. I hope it gets better but you need to share all your after treatment experiences with the person doing the EMDR. Wishing you healing in your journey!

    zaniara likes this.
  12. pattijane

    pattijane Member

    So the Wiki article is incorrect: EMDR does NOT attempt to FORCE the brain at all. While there are some hypotheses about how EMDR works, we really don't know for certain, but any professionally trained and very experienced EMDR therapist (or researcher) will tell you that it's the patient's own healing system, and neural network, that are activated. Prolonged Exposure, a method of PTSD treatment DOES force the brain by forcing you to think about/feel the trauma for as long as possible. EMDR does not force anything.
    I’m a therapist who uses EMDR as my primary treatment psychotherapy and I’ve also personally had EMDR therapy for anxiety, panic, grief, and “small t” trauma. As a client, EMDR worked extremely well and also really fast. As an EMDR therapist, and in my role as a facilitator who trains other therapists in EMDR (certified by the EMDR International Assoc. and trained by the EMDR Institute, both of which I strongly recommend in an EMDR therapist) I have used EMDR successfully with panic disorders, single incident trauma and complex/chronic PTSD, anxiety, depression, grief, body image, phobias, distressing memories, bad dreams and more…

    It’s really crucial that a professionally trained therapist spends enough time in one of the initial phases (Phase 2) that involves preparing for memory processing or desensitization (memory processing or desensitization – phases 3-6 – is often referred to as “EMDR” which is actually an 8-phase psychotherapy). In this phase resources are “front-loaded” so that you have a “floor” or “container” to help with processing the really hard stuff. In Phase 2 you learn a lot of great coping strategies and self-soothing techniques which you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need. So if you start feeling overwhelmed or that it’s too intense, you can ground yourself (with your therapist’s help in session, and on your own between sessions) and feel safe enough to continue the work. In my practice, after the Phase 2 work lets us know that my patient is safe enough and able to cope with any emotion and/or physical sensation both during and between EMDR processing sessions, I often suggest we try a much less intense memory first if there is one that happened BEFORE the trauma(s). If there isn’t one, then I suggest we start developmentally with the least disturbing memory and work our way “up” to the most disturbing event(s).

    Grounding exercises are indispensable in everyday life, and really essential in stressful times. Anyone can use some of the techniques in Dr. Shapiro’s new book “Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR.” Dr. Shapiro is the founder/creator of EMDR but all the proceeds from the book go to two charities: the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program and the EMDR Research Foundation). Anyway, the book is terrific. It’s an easy read, helps you understand what’s “pushing” your feelings and behaviour, helps you connect the dots from past experiences to current life. Also teaches readers lots of helpful techniques that can be used immediately and that are also used during EMDR therapy to calm disturbing thoughts and feelings.

    As I’ve mentioned about Phase 2, during EMDR therapy you learn coping strategies and self-soothing techniques that you can use during EMDR processing or anytime you feel the need. You learn how to access a “Safe or Calm Place” which you can use at ANY TIME during EMDR processing (or on your own) if it feels scary, or too emotional, too intense. One of the key assets of EMDR is that YOU, the client, are in control NOW, even though you likely were not during past events. You NEVER need re-live an experience or go into great detail, ever! You NEVER need to go through the entire memory. YOU can decide to keep the lights (or the alternating sounds and/or tactile pulsars, or the waving hand) going, or stop them, whichever helps titrate – measure and adjust the balance or “dose“ of the processing.

    During EMDR processing there are regular “breaks” and you can control when and how many but the therapist should be stopping the bilateral stimulation every 25-50 passes of the lights to ask you to take a deep breath and ask you to say just a bit of what you’re noticing. (The stimulation should not be kept on continuously, because there are specific procedures that need to be followed to process the memory). The breaks help keep a “foot in the present” while you’re processing the past. Again, and I can’t say this enough, YOU ARE IN CHARGE so YOU can make the process tolerable. And your therapist should be experienced in the EMDR techniques that help make it the gentlest and safest way to neutralize bad life experiences and build resources.

    Pacing and dosing are critically important. So if you ever feel that EMDR processing is too intense then it might be time to go back over all the resources that should be used both IN session and BETWEEN sessions. Your therapist should be using a variety of techniques to make painful processing less painful, like suggesting you turn the scene in your mind to black and white, lower the volume, or, erect a bullet-proof glass wall between you and the painful scene, or, imagine the abuser speaking in a Donald Duck voice… and so forth. There are a lot of these kinds of “interventions” that ease the processing. They are called “cognitive interweaves” that your therapist can use, and that also can help bring your adult self’s perspective into the work (or even an imaginary Adult Perspective). Such interweaves are based around issues of Safety, Responsibility, and Choice. So therapist questions like “are you safe now?” or “who was responsible? and “do you have more choices now?” are all very helpful in moving the processing along.

    In addition to my therapy practice, I roam the web looking for EMDR discussions, try to answer questions about it posted by clients/patients, and respond to the critics out there. It’s not a cure-all therapy. However, it really is an extraordinary psychotherapy and its results last. In the hands of a really experienced EMDR therapist, it’s the most gentle way of working through disturbing experiences.
  13. Hashi

    Hashi I'm a VIP

    pattijane, I'm afraid I can't read something as long and dense as what you've written here. It's beyond my concentration level. (I'm a sufferer.)

    Therefore, I'm not sure how much of what you've written is in response to the quote from my post and how much is relevant to SarahD's posts. At any rate, at least some of it is in response to what I said. I think that's taking this particular thread a little too off topic. I began that by my response to ashdawn, so I take full responsibility and I apologise, SarahD.

    pattijane, do you want to start a new thread in this section about this issue? You might want to quote straight from the Wiki article itself, or from my post here. It's possible to copy and paste over to a new thread.

    I'd be interested in a discussion about this, especially anthony's comments as the author of the article, if he wanted to respond. I'm not sure how quickly I'd respond myself as I have a lot going on right now, but I would if I felt in a position to.

    If you wanted to start a new thread, I wonder if you'd consider shortening the text and using more line breaks to make it easier to read?

    Best wishes,

    TheBubzilla likes this.
  14. therapybankrupt

    therapybankrupt PTSD Survivor Premium Member

    I agree with PattiJane. What I have learned and experienced in EMDR is different than the wiki. I almost did not do the therapy because of what is in the wiki. I'm glad I researched more before making a decision with the go ahead. Hashi you are wise in getting Anthony in on the information with the wiki. He may want to consider revising it if he get updated proven information.

  15. Snakedoc702

    Snakedoc702 New Member

    I have suffered with PTSD since I was around 4 years old. I dealt with several types of abuse as a young child, from 3 different people. I learned to block out the experiences very quickly, but only from my conscious mind. I knew they happened but would not let myself remember specifics.

    I was very angry growing up and would take it out on everyone I loved. I grew up and enlisted in the marine corps and then went on to law enforcement. I dealt with the same situations that I was in as a child. Being exposed to these over and over caused me some serious anxiety problems.

    Finally on a SWAT call out, I also had to defend myself and a team mate utilizing lethal force. Myself and my team mate were cleared by the department and the grand jury. This experience had a huge impact on my life though. I stayed in law enforcement for another 6 months and then the stress became too much. I left my career and have been unemployed for the last 3 years. I went through a second divorce as a result of my symptoms.

    I recently started seeing a counselor who is trained in EMDR. I did not notice a big difference or any real change in anything after the first session. However, after my second session which was yesterday, I have been a bit drained emotionally and have been processing and have noticed that I am finally able to cry and have noticed different things about my experiences.

    I have a complicated case in the fact that I have PTSD from many issues that I have dealt with over my life. It's like peeling back the layers of an onion. I have a long way to go still but I can see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm excited about this journey. The emdr is a very effective tool and everyone's stories here are inspiring.

    Dennis, your story has been especially helpful. It gives me hope in my situation. I don't know if you are still on the job or not, but best of luck and stay safe. Thank you all for sharing and good luck to you all.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2013
    UniversalBeing, SarahD and zaniara like this.
  16. Natalie768

    Natalie768 New Member

    I recently over the last few months starting going to counseling for relationship issues. I had trauma in my past my father pasted away when I was seven and my counselor suggested emdr to release feelings surrounding his death. I did go to therapy as a teenager and dealt with some of my feelings surrounding my feelings over my fathers death but never did emdr and never heard of it till now. Well I have done one session and before this I rarely had trouble sleeping and NEVER had an anxiety attack.

    I do not feel like myself after this and I wish I never did emdr. The fist day she did emdr session I felt relaxed but two days later is when the numbness, panic attacks, loss of appetite, nausea, sleeplessness, and sadness. Its started out very strong where I couldn't calm down and even met with my therapists, she didn't know what to tell me as she never seen anyone process it like me before.

    I went to emdr website and called to see what qualifications she had apparently passed part one but not two.I did do my research before hand and thought it sounded perfectly safe but now I am not sure.Its been three weeks since my one emdr session and at times I still feel these surges of sadness and still am not sleeping well at night. I am still also getting a feeling like I am not here like I am walking around in a dream,having trouble concentrating, sufficating feeling like pain that won't come out.I am trying hard to get past all this and moments I start to feel a little better but then its like I am hit with a wave of emotions and it starts again....
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2014
  17. Aimeeemma8

    Aimeeemma8 Guest

    Hi had my first session nearly two weeks ago like yourself have felt anxious no concentration feeling tense suffocating feeling pain in my chest going to therapy tomorrow hopefully will resolve the matter .

    Otherwise may have to go sick as find it difficult at worK in all aspects I'm a nurse and need to focus which I find difficult at present .has your treatment become easier do you feel any better?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2015
  18. I have had my second EMDR sessions today, my first session was at the beginning of December and we worked on my most recent sexual assault but in doing so it brought out memories of another sexual assault and grooming I suffered when much younger. We have been talking about those and today did EMDR again. I forgot how I felt in December. I think today's session was more intense my therapist said I dissociated completely multiple times during the process and afterwards I felt sick to my stomach and my legs were like jelly. I think I was in shock, I just wanted to kind of sit and zone out staring at the wall. When I got home I cried. I didn't cry in the session I was more in shock at the things and feelings I recalled. I am exhausted I have done absolutely nothing all day. Except lie down and eat and eat absolute crap at that. I am trying to diet but as an emotional eater Thursday's never really allow me to stick to it. I know I need to be kind to myself but I hate breaking my diet and spending a day doing nothing when there is so much to do. The one thing I would say is EMDR works. I have only had two sessions but in each session my thought processes about myself and my attacks have changed. I have remembered feelings I had completely forgotten feeling. I just wish there wasn't this time needed for recovery afterwards. I feel like people don't really understand how sitting in a chair moving your eyes can be so exhausting and traumatising, but it is. Someone said above EMDR is like surgery and I agree after a session I need to convalesce and so nothing. I want to cocoon myself in a blanket in my safe place and not see anyone. From experience I know I will be ok in a couple of days but right now it's completely overwhelming and not in a good way.

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