Consider Homeopathy for Depression Before Antidepressants
We live in an overmedicated society. About ten percent of Americans, twenty-seven million people, were taking antidepressants in 2005, having doubled in ten years. It is interesting to note that up to eighty percent of these prescriptions were made by physicians other than psychiatrists. This includes twice as many prescriptions for both adults and, frequently off-label, for children as young as age five. Well-documented side effects of antidepressants include loss of libido and weight gain, both of which, ironically, often lead to diminished self-esteem and passion for life.
The common wisdom in conventional medical circles is that the options are either to take antidepressant medications or to remain depressed. This is a misconception. Having practiced homeopathy for over twenty-five years and specializing in patients with mental and emotional problems, we have seen countless cases of patients whose moods and lives were improved, often dramatically, with homeopathy. For those readers who are unfamiliar with homeopathy, we are talking about constitutional homeopathy. In the case of an adult, this involves a two-hour initial, in-depth interview, or case taking, by an experienced homeopathic practitioner. In conventional medicine, there may be a dozen or so possibilities for antidepressant medications. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is highly individualized. A homeopath selects the best-indicated medicine from over two thousand different natural substances. That is why the initial interview is thorough, lengthy, and explores the individual’s symptoms and state in great depth.
Homeopathic medicines do not cause any of the side effects of conventional medicine, which is a relief to patients, and typically work just as quickly and, often, with a even greater degree of success than antidepressants. In addition, the correct homeopathic medicine addresses not only the psychological state of the patient, but all of the other physical complaints as well. In other words, if an individual suffers from depression, migraines, and asthma, the appropriate homeopathic medicine will address all three conditions rather than requiring an antidepressant, pain medication, and bronchodilator. In many cases, even if a person suffers primarily from mental and emotional problems, for example, depression, anxiety, and attention problems, he is likely to be taking three different psychiatric medications, rather than just an antidepressant. An additional complication of pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of depression is the common difficulty of discontinuing the medications. Many of those on antidepressants, particularly Effexor, find it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to discontinue the drugs. When they are able to do so, it may take six months to a year, often with the help of Prozac.
In this article we include two cases excerpted from the original edition of our book, Prozac Free (Prima Press: Rocklin, CA, 1999). Although we have written numerous articles on the subject since that time, these are still two of our favorite cases and quite instructive.
I Feel Excommunicated by My Family
Ronny, forty years old, worked as a travel agent. Her early years had not been easy. She grew up in an Italian neighborhood in New York City. Ronny’s grandparents came over from Milan. Her mother had a third child at the age of thirty-two. The baby died and she suffered a nervous breakdown. Ronny and her brother were sent to a Catholic orphanage. They held themselves responsible for the baby’s death. Ronny cried herself to sleep every night that she was there. After a time at home, her father, an abusive and violent alcoholic, took them back to the orphanage. Living under the same roof as her father had been a terrifying experience. He beat her siblings and threatened her. She hid in a garment bag with a knife in case he attacked her when he came home from the bar drunk. There were times when she felt like she could have killed him. Ronny’s mother also had a violent streak. She beat the kids with a frying pan or whatever else she could get her hands on. Though Ronny often tried to protect her mother from her father’s abuse, she basically felt betrayed by her.
They eventually went back to live with their parents. When Ronny was fourteen, her parents finally divorced. Sent back to the orphanage once again, she received help from the nuns. At that time she had a revelation in the form of a visitation. She received instructions to speak the truth and not be afraid. After that she had the courage to stand up to her father.
At the age of twenty-four, Ronny married her Italian boyfriend. Over time he became sexually abusive and slept with her sister. Her sister never spoke to her again. Jealous and resentful, Ronny left her husband, but he pursued her. She never felt vindicated for her betrayal by her husband and sister. The feeling she held towards her family was of rejection and excommunication. Ronny often felt attacked by her mother, her father, her husband, and even by friends. Depression was a familiar companion, and was even more pronounced when it rained. Ronny remarried and had a daughter but was tormented with fear that her ex-husband would kidnap her. She also feared heights and had a fascination with snakes. When she was little, she used to play with her brother’s boa constrictor.
The resentment took hold in Ronny’s stomach. Whenever she thought about her mother or about the betrayals, “her stomach would come out of her mouth” and she would retch. She loved salads.
Ronny’s intense feelings of jealousy, betrayal, resentment, and need for vindication in addition to her vomiting, aggravation from the rain, and love of salads led us to prescribe Elaps (coral snake). Patients can potentially need homeopathic medicines from the plant, mineral, or animal kingdoms. Those needing animal medicines, like Ronny, exhibit characteristics of attractiveness, competition, survival, sexuality, dominance and submission, victim and aggressor, and predator and prey. Those needing homeopathic snake medicines typically speak about suspiciousness, betrayal, and manipulation, and may even use terms such as “two-faced,” “behind my back,” or “forked tongue.” Those needing Elaps tend to have somewhat milder personalities than those needing Lachesis (Bushmaster), Crot. cascavella or horridus (Brazilian or North American rattlesnake), Naja (cobra), and a number of others. It is common, in those needing Elaps, to see stomach problems, along with a pronounced desire for ice, salads, and oranges. Cold food or drinks can also aggravate the gastrointestinal complaints.
When we saw Nancy two months later, she was quite pleased with her response to the medicine. Her attitude was much more positive. She felt more detached from her family and was no longer retching.
Two months later she reported that her feelings towards her family were much less intense, despite a family dispute over the grandfather’s estate after his recent death. She continued to feel well physically and was less afraid of heights. Two years after taking the Elaps, she continued to feel well and did not need further treatment.
My Life is Barren
Nancy, a social worker from New York, began the interview by telling us that she felt lonely, isolated, sad, and overwhelmed. Forty-five-years-old, she realized that she was intelligent, strong, and capable but was unable to find happiness. We had been able to help her son with attention deficit disorder, and Nancy hoped we could help her turn around her life as well.
“I enjoy giving advice. I have caseload friendships. I’m there for them but whenever I start to articulate my own needs, my friends leave. My work isn’t fulfilling, I don’t have a partner or anyone on the horizon. Most of my life is barren except for my spirituality. After spending two years in the Peace Corps in Africa, I fell in love with their native traditions and religion and that is what I still practice. I find the connection with all of the creatures of natureâ€”the music, magic, and animal sacrificesâ€”very satisfying. I am part of an indigenous spiritual community, mostly African.
I have a problem with men. My uncle abused me as a child and I’ve had trouble ever since accepting men in authority. I recovered my memories of sexual abuse seven years ago and have not been sexually active since. For a long, long time I had an attachment to suicide. In major times of anguish, that’s how I would comfort myself. I used to think about drowning or pills or driving off a cliff. At one point, I thought about shooting myself in my therapist’s office. I was hospitalized for depression once. It’s mainly the hopelessness about feeling like I’ll never fill the emptiness. My son’s life interferes with my being able to have a life.
The pain comes from feeling that I can’t fulfill my desires because I’m overweight and middle-aged. I don’t have a lot of confidence in men as partners. What I’m really seeking is a spiritual connection. I’ve been married twice. My first marriage was emotionally barren for me and the second was abusive. My money goes mainly for basics and for my son’s needs.
If I try to become involved in others’ lives or I try to deepen the relationships, I fail. So I convince myself that it’s just going to keep happening that way. I feel profoundly empty, fragmented. A split. The life I’ve known about for forty-five years and the life I found out about seven years ago. The incest started in infancy and continued until puberty. I remember being lonely and not wanting to be left alone. Actually I was completely alone from the very beginning. I never felt attached to anyone. I was always shy and isolated. I believed that my mother loved my sister more than me. I was smart and geeky and never had a lot of friends. My teachers perceived me as calm, quiet, and nice. They sat me next to the problem kids so I’d have a good influence on them.”
Nancy had numerous fears. Of being alone for life, of revealing herself, being hurt or rejected, heights, and claustrophobia. She was terrified of being open to life, of allowing herself to experience joy because as soon as she felt it, someone might take it away from her. Nancy had one recurrent dream of surviving a huge tidal wave and another of narrowly escaping suffocation by an assailant. In a third dream, she was supposed to be taking care of a baby but didn’t know how. She recounted yet another dream about growling, snarling cats and dogs. Around the time that she recovered her sexual abuse memories, Nancy was tormented by recurrent nightmares.
A chocolate lover, Nancy also sucked on lemons as a child and ate salt out of her hand. She complained of frequent anxiety in her stomach and tightness in her throat, weak knees, dry lips, gas, insomnia, fatigue, stress incontinence, and an urge to urinate throughout the entire day.
Based on Nancy’s profound feeling of isolation, disconnectedness, and difficulty with bonding, her strong attraction to animals, her distance from her son when he was an infant and feeling even now that he was restricting her freedom, and her craving for chocolate, we gave her homeopathic Chocolate.
Chocolate is a plant medicine, and plants are appropriate for sensitive, reactive, emotional people. It belongs to the Malvalae family, whose issues are attachment and detachment in relationships, estrangement, and nurturing. Chocolate is classified in the acute miasm, which has a feeling of life or death, and a sudden, immediate danger or threat. This feeling is well depicted in Nancy’s dream of growling, snarling cats and dogs. Those needing this medicine tend to feel a lack of nurturance and isolation. During pregnancy, the expectant mothers may feel a desire to get the fetus out of the womb, or even wish they were not pregnant. A strong craving for chocolate is also typical of those needing this medicine.
Nancy reported three months later that the Chocolate had helped her considerably. “I started feeling fuller and less anxious pretty much right away. The feeling of a big hole was nearly gone. I stopped eating compulsively, started sleeping, the gas lessened, and I felt happier and more connected. The feeling of isolation left.” Nancy continued to improve significantly. The feelings of isolation were mild and infrequent, but the emptiness never returned. For the first time in her life she feels like a grown-up adult. “I’m more capable of giving and receiving love. The feeling of isolation has changed texture. It’s not so personal. My work is much more satisfying and I’m having lots of fun lately.”
Nancy experienced a period of migraine headaches, which went away after a repetition of the same medicine. She has also confided more about her pregnancy with her son. She had hated being pregnant because she felt nauseous the entire time. With absolutely no confidence that she knew what to do with a baby, she feared harming or losing him and kept herself at a distance. Nancy suffered from tremendous engorgement of her breasts while nursing, which was painful and unpleasant. We learned later that Nancy had been addicted to chocolate throughout her life. Her mom never let her buy candy bars and one of the highlights of her college experience was having the freedom to buy Hershey bars whenever she felt like it. We have found the ambivalence about being pregnant and mothering characteristic of women needing Chocolate.
Nancy needed five doses of Chocolate over a two-year period. The profound emptiness and isolation did not return during that time, her headaches resolved, and her digestion and insomnia improved significantly. She was much more satisfied with her job and her relationship with her son became much easier. Nancy felt well enough that she no longer needed homeopathic care.
Do Not Treat Yourself -Find a Homeopath
As we mentioned, there are more than two thousand possible medicines in the homeopathic materia medica. In the case of depression, find a practitioner who is well trained and experienced in helping patients with psychiatric problems. As you can see from these two cases, the results with homeopathy can be quite profound. It would be highly unlikely that you could find the right medicine for yourself, and proper case management is essential for a steady improvement and a fruitful outcome.
Editors note: This article was originally published in the Townsend Letter –
COPYRIGHT 2009 The Townsend Letter Group, COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning