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Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience:  Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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I wake up every night with my heart pounding, feeling very

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I wake up every night with my heart pounding, feeling very anxious, and it usually takes me a couple of hours to fall asleep again. I cry a lot, the tears just roll, and I feel ashamed about being so weak. I wish I were strong and able to live happily. I have been taking antidepressants for close to five years now. They worked extremely well to begin with, I felt reborn. But now it seems like I am back to where I started. I have a really difficult time concentrating, so I can't work as efficiently as I should. I am writing a PhD, and I have a fellowship, but it's like I only feel the pressure, not the joy I felt when I wrote, say, my master's. This morning I thought to myself that I wish there were a big red STOP button somewhere I could press. It feels like my time and my energy are seeping out of my hands, day by day. I guess this also has to do with other things such as the fact that I don't have a family yet, and I desperately want kids. I have the feeling that I can't get there, t

Hi there,

Thanks for your question. I have changed the format to Q and A as you are offline. I understand that you have previously seen a therapist and continue to see a psychiatrist and I also see that your resources are limited - however, I am still going to recommend to you that you see an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapist and I will explain why to you as I go along.

When we sleep, we process away the anxieties of the day during our sleep (REM stage - Rapid Eye Movement) and this often results in 'odd' dreams as we pull our experiences together. However, sometimes we have experienced something highly emotional that has been outside of our normal ability to cope (read: trauma - can be very small to extremely large). It may be something we are consciously aware of, or not. The brain is unable to process these anxieties through REM sleep, yet it still tries - so we have dreams that are not good and we awaken, often in an emotional state as a result of the dream - we can call this a nightmare. This all seems to fit with what you are experiencing during your sleep times. It sounds as if your tablets had some effect originally (I am not a doctor and cannot comment on what drugs do, but perhaps they dulled the memories in some way). However, the subconscious mind (where these memories are held) takes the role of protecting the self and it shouts even louder if it feels it is not being heard and so the symptoms become worse until you take notice.

An EMDR therapist would help you to locate a previously distressing incident - you may or may not be aware of what this might be right now, and it doesn't matter either way) and to simulate the REM processing so that you can process away the emotion and beliefs that are linked to the memory. Now it is not for me to guess what your self beliefs are that are linked to this memory, but you type that you feel weak and would prefer to be strong. These are typical beliefs that can arise from an incident - the trauma need not have involved anyone else, it could be something quite small - it could have been an accident or teasing from other children. There is also the clue that you feel 'ashamed' - this is also likely to link back to the original experience.

You can find an emdr therapist in your area and more info re: emdr at

Tell the therapist that you have limited resources and they should be able to tailor your therapy to your needs. There are no guarantees, but this process can be relatively quick, compared to counseling, as the work takes place in your subconscious mind.

I do hope this information is valuable enough for you to pay for - you may be surprised how good this therapy can help you to feel. After you have let go of these concerns, then the rest of your life goals may slot into place more easily. I wish you well, I am happy to comment on a reply, thank you for using Just Answer, Sarah

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