Friday, March 4, 2016

An Emotional Herx

The nurse at my doctor, I'll call her "J," is so kind, comforting and a lovely human being. She suggested I write about the "emotional herx," because it might be helpful for other patients to read that someone has had this experience and that it is possible to herx just emotionally, whether that is depression, anxiety, sadness, or suicidal thoughts.

Lyme patients deal with something called a Herxheimer reaction, or simply a "herx." This is an increase in symptoms once treatment is started when the antibiotics, herbals or other alternative therapies kill off the bacteria. When the bacteria die they release a toxin and, depending on how efficient the patient's detox pathways are, that reaction can either be cleared relatively easily or require diligence on the patient's part to assist the body in detoxing.

I have experienced a herx on many occasions while doing antibiotics, acupuncture, rife therapy, and herbals. Most often my herx would be a period of a day or two in which my physical symptoms were exacerbated and I felt extremely "toxic" all over. My spine would ache and burn, my headaches were worse, my whole body felt like it was on fire, I would swing wildly from hot flashes to freezing, sometimes I vomited, sometimes a random joint in my body would become inflamed, and I would fall down the rabbit hole of deep, dark depression. After an epsom salt bath and drinking lots of water the herx would clear and in about 24-48 hours I would feel better.

Since about June of 2015 I have been doing UVL therapy, ultraviolet light therapy, every two weeks and other than the migraine "flares" I have twice a month which remain debilitating, most days I am getting closer to feeling like I did before I got sick. However, when I do the UVL therapy, I get severely depressed for the two days after like when I was overrun with bacteria during the worst days of my illness.

I have been able to chart the depressive episodes and they correlate directly with the UVL therapy. I find it interesting that now that I'm not having such intense physical symptoms I can see so clearly the emotional component of this illness. I was a positive person before I got Lyme and never had a depressive episode, nor was I suicidal. The depression that went along with this was so hard for me to accept. I've written this before and it is worth saying again, depression is depressing.

The day after the UVL therapy I wake up and feel very hopeless, with zero energy. My anxiety is worse and I feel slightly suicidal again. The first time I had this emotional herx I was thrown right back to that place of being ill and thinking "this will never end." But then two days later the dark veil lifted and then when it happened again I realized it was an emotional herx. I discussed this with my doctor and his feeling was that my lymph system wasn't draining efficiently after killing off bacteria with the ULV, so we've taken steps to improve that. I have a rebounder (a small trampoline) at home so I've used that after the UVL as well as Spanish Black Radish, taken to support lymph drainage.

I just had UVL two days ago as of this writing and implemented the new protocols. I didn't wake up feeling severely depressed the day after so possibly what we're doing is working. I continue to be tired pretty much all of the time but I think that is my severely depleted adrenals, which will always have to be supported.

Lyme spirochetes can get into the emotional center of the brain and the nervous system, so it makes sense that continuing to kill off whatever bacteria is left in those places would cause an emotional herx. I have been told that we heal in the reverse order in which we got sick and since the first symptoms to show up for me were insomnia, severe anxiety and depression, maybe I am crossing the finish line.

See this excellent piece by psychiatrist Dr. Robert Bransfield, - "Lyme, Depression and Suicide.


  1. Thanks for this post! I have experienced acupuncture therapy too and got treatment for my leg pain from a local acupuncturist Mississauga clinic. The best part was that she explained everything to me, made me comfortable before every session.

  2. Thanks for the comment Rebecca!

  3. I feel like I wrote this made me feel so much better to know others are having this reaction. Thank you for sharing