How do you manage your partial seizures, medically? And, when was the last time you had a full physical exam?
There is some thought that certain types of bi-lateral stimulation used in EMDR can contribute to seizure activity...but there are a lot of variable factors involved. And, not all kinds of bi-lateral stimulation will be problematic. So - a lot will depend on the experience level of the person doing the EMDR, as well as your own familiarity with your seizure warning signs, your medication, and your health overall.
Sorry - that's not very answer-like, I know....perhaps others with experience in this will weigh in.
I've not had EMDR, but I was diagnosed with seizures a long time ago. Even if there were an increased risk of seizure in an activity or procedure, I would not do it. Have you discussed the risk with your doctor?
I have epilepsy, and I've been told EMDR should be used with caution with people diagnosed with epilepsy. Interesting Fact from the Epilepsy Foundation in my state: up to 20% of the people diagnosed with epilepsy will have at least one psychogenic seizures due to the medical trauma epilepsy can cause (meds, concussions/TBI, and stress-when will the next one occur/anxiety).
I agree...if it was advised to me....I wouldn't......and I know that there are a lot of professionals with only a level 1 EMDR certification....and if I did, I'd make sure that my provider had a level 3 certification in EMDR.
This is a good thread because many people with PTSD or supporting someone with this and related disorders do not know that epilepsy and seizures are highly comorbid or correlated to it. This means, that once a person gets diagnosed with PTSD, they have a higher chance of also having or getting a future diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury (that they didn't previous know about) and/or Seizures, and other things, like Autoimmune diseases.
Since WWI, doctors noticed that after they caught PTSD (they called it Shell Shock then) in soldier-patients, they would send them back out to keep training on light duty and better diets (more food) and check up on them, in many cases, if it wasn't too bad. In such cases, they noticed some patterns they recorded, that got used to study PTSD through today. Some of their early findings are interesting in that the specialists' findings in the earliest records match current-day PTSD clinical findings in many cases:
*They noticed the worst-hit patients developed different types of seizures or fits of involuntary jerky movements. (You can find video clips of actual footage they took to document the emaciated men. I found this helpful to watch, and to see that my own symptoms when really bad match the same jerking movements. I take a muscle relaxer, cyclobenzaprine which will stop these.) (They had trouble getting them to eat or drink and couldn't get them on an IV due to the shaking). These men were at the greatest risk of dying due to starvation or suicide, due to flashbacks. This is why watching the videos is not only validating, but potentially life-saving for some of us with chronic or severe PTSD, if doctors are not aware of all symptoms, to find ways to manage symptoms when PTSD gets bad. Such jerking movements may indicate an underlying, comorbid seizure disorder triggered by the PTSD and attending stress hormones.
*They noticed the moderate, able to work patients developed skin rashes, especially recurring Herpes Zoster (Shingles, from latent Chickenpox virus that lies dormant) and other rashes, acne, and autoimmune skin involvement, such as eczema, psoriasis, and others in very high and unexpected rates, and at predictable time tables, such as within two months of PTSD Dx and after returning to work/training, but not combat.
1. During PTSD, patients may feel no hunger: fasting leads to flashbacks due to metabolic release of ketones in the blood (a theory)
2. (conversely) eating a complex carbohydrate and protein balanced diet with small meals all day may stave off flashbacks
3. During PTSD, patients may feel no thirst: dehydration may lead to high blood pressure and other mood/body symptoms
4. Sleep disturbance: you name it, they had it
5. A number of comorbidities. See the videos online, checking YouTube and research on WWI PTSD doctors video studies and articles.
Point being that this comorbidity has been the longest known, but is still not clearly understood.
One of my closest friends with PTSD ended up having grand mal seizures and had to be put on (for him) even more heavy medication and could not operate his work machinery for a while. I would say, for him, this was worse than his already difficult time with PTSD and OCD, due to med management being so critical and the mood issues with the meds.
EMDR is not a panacea. There are a number of clinicians putting out content for public awareness that patients have developed full-blow psychosis from EMDR alone, from a single session with no know previous psychotic issues or drug use. This means, you go from just having some anxiety and hoping EMDR will help, to being in a F**** straightjacket and on heavy meds and inpatient for long stretches or the rest of your life.
EMDR is not the "light massage" of the brain that I think it is being touted as.
One PTSD sufferer who is also a clinician with a PhD in Psychology YouTuber on what it's like to live with PTSD said that EMDR knocked her down on her ass for over six months, to the point that she could not care for herself nor her family at all. Someone had to feed her, etc. She did not develop seizures, but her functioning went to the worst levels in her life during EMDR, which her therapist warned her about. However, after the six months of EMDR, she claims that she is now stronger than before. So, she thinks in some ways it was worth it, and in some ways not worth it.
Due to the risk of developing seizures or psychosis, or just having half a year of your life being the worst portion of your adult life in terms of affect and functioning, I think someday, we will look back and deem EMDR the Labatomy of the 21st Century when we have better ways of helping people. In other words, “primum non nocere,” "first, do no harm" means that EMDR does do harm in some cases. All care comes with some risk. After some times, those risks become more clear.
As the connection between PTSD/Trauma and seizure are more clearly understood, EMDR will be known to be triggering minor over-activity in the brain, thus contraindicated. It is actually "making it worse" in order to push the body to correct itself, much like setting a bone. It hurts because you don't want to move a broken bone. But they are moving what it broken for six months.
However, if they do not do this, someone can be stuck with a broken brain for a long time. But when they are ready, the brain-body will begin doing the healing work on its own and people do not need to force it. EMDR is forcing it, or guiding it, opening up the activity so that the traumatic material gets unstuck, isn't it? Isn't that a good thing? Well, yes, especially if there is only one trauma, or if the body and brain can handle this. No, if there are several traumas, because you are opening Pandora's Box for psychosis.