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Homeopathic Solutions for Depression
Homeopathy has been used to treat depression successfully even though there are precious few studies done on its effectiveness for this disorder. Homeopathy usually individualizes treatment according to the symptoms and constitution of each patient. This treatment approach is especially effective for treating depression because symptoms do vary from one depressed patient to another. This article discusses the 10 most commonly prescribed and effective homeopathic remedies for depression.
by Brad Chase
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine developed in Germany by Samuel Hahnemann. This system of medicine has been practiced since the late 1700s and it is now widespread throughout Europe and North America.
According to Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like”. This simply means that the same substance which causes a set of symptoms in healthy people can also be used to treat the same symptoms in sick people.
In theory, homeopathic remedies trigger the body’s healing power and self-defense capabilities.
Although homeopathy has been approved and regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US since 1938, many medical practitioners are still reluctant to prescribe homeopathic remedies for patients. This is probably due to the relatively fewer clinical studies done to investigate the efficacy of various homeopathic remedies.
Preparations of homeopathic remedies are done by experts known as homeopaths.
This basic process of preparing these remedies involves selecting a substance and repeatedly diluting it in alcohol or distilled water. This is then followed by forcefully striking the diluted substance on an elastic body in a process known as succussion.
Repeating the two processes of dilution and succussion is believed to make the remedy more potent and effective while removing the toxins and all other poisons present in the starting material. In fact, dilution is usually done to the point where the original substance becomes very negligible if it is still present at all.
Finding a particular homeopathic remedy for a sick patient first requires consulting reference books known as repertories. The remedy is then chosen based on the symptoms shown by the patient.
The physical and psychological state as well as the medical history of the patient are also considered when choosing a remedy.
Homeopathic remedies are taken from animals, plants, minerals, and synthetic substances. In some cases, the substance used may be a poison or a very toxic material. But due to repeated dilution, very little of the toxic material is left in the remedy making the remedy harmless.
Unlike conventional medicine, homeopathic remedies have low toxicity potential and side effects are not commonly experienced. For this safety reason, many people opt for homeopathic remedies for the treatment of various ailments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
Homeopathic remedies mostly carry labels indicating their potency. The potency is usually marked with a number followed by a ‘C’ or ‘X’ (for example, 8C, 8X, 16X or 16C). Selecting the right dose may require consulting a homeopath but this is not usually required.
X refers to decimal dilution (1 part of the starting ingredient in 10 parts of the diluent). Therefore, 8C means 1 part of the starting ingredient in 80 parts of the diluent.
C describes centesimal dilution (1 part of starting ingredient in 100 parts of diluent),
It is advised to start the remedies from a low potency such as 6C or 12C before moving on to higher potencies if required. After taking a tablet, the user should to wait and observe the effects before increasing the potency. However, potencies above 30C may require consultation with a homeopath.
Unlike conventional medicine, homeopathic remedies do not cause drug dependence and, therefore, can be discontinued as soon as the patient is no longer sick. However, it is important to strictly follow the instructions that are printed on the labels of these remedies.
A 1997 study published in the journal, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, investigated the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment in patients suffering from depression and anxiety.
For this study, homeopathic remedies were individually selected by 12 volunteers who were suffering from depression, social phobia, or panic disorder. The participants in this study had been previously treated with conventional therapies but they responded poorly to these treatments.
The patients were observed for a period of 7 - 80 weeks. All participants were evaluated based on scores from the clinical global scale for depression while only 8 participants were evaluated based on the self-rated SCL-90 scale.
The result of the study showed that, on the average, homeopathic remedies improved total response rates. The participants scored 58% and 50% on the clinical global improvement scale and the SCL-90 scale respectively. This result indicated significant improvement in moods of the participants.
Another 2011 study published in the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, compared the effects of individualized homeopathic remedies and a conventional drug, fluoxetine, in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.
In this double-blind, randomized study, 91 patients with moderate to severe depression were recruited.
These patients were randomly given either an individually chosen homeopathic remedy or fluoxetine (20 mg/day - 40 mg/day) for a period of 8 weeks.
The participants of the study were scored based on the Montgomery and Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).
The result of the study showed no significant difference between patients who were treated with homeopathic remedies and those who were given fluoxetine. However, a higher percentage of those who were given fluoxetine experienced side effects compared to those treated with homeopathic remedies.
Since the symptoms of depression shown by patients may differ from one to another, homeopathy is a perfect fit for treating this condition. Normally, homeopathic therapy is individualized and remedies are chosen to perfectly address the individual needs of each patient.
Therefore, these remedies are always tailored to the set of symptoms shown by each depressed patient. In most cases, the factors that triggered the depression are also put into consideration when selecting a remedy.
Some of the homeopathic remedies that can be used to treat depression are discussed below.
This homeopathic remedy is made from arsenic. Although this parent material is very poisonous, the remedy made from it has, however, been watered down and diluted so much that it is no longer harmful to the body.
Arsenicum is also known among homeopaths as Ars. alb. According to the homeopathic guide book, Arsenicum is one of the 15 important homeopathic remedies.
The preparation of this remedy involves isolating arsenic from various metals like iron and then grinding to powder. The powder is then diluted with large amounts of lactose or milk sugar. This dilution process continues until there are no more traces of arsenic remaining.
The resultant remedy is available in homeopathic stores in the form of tablets, pellets, powder and even tinctures (liquid).
Arsenicum is often prescribed for depressed patients who experience feelings of nervousness, fear and insecurity. This remedy is most effective for patients who are considered perfectionists at work. Due to their nature, they may feel isolated and this can lead to depression.
These patients are often characterized by behaviors which are described as demanding, dependent, suspicious of others, and in constant fear of their health.
This remedy is obtained from gold, and it is mainly used to treat mental disorders such as depression.
Even in conventional medicine, gold salts were once used to treat a number of ailments including rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Severe cases of depression and people who usually experience depression from time to time are best treated with this remedy.
Additionally, people who are driven by achievements and work but are easily let down or depressed when they fail are also known to be well-suited to this type of remedy. These individuals are prone to depression as a result of failure in their personal life and work.
Overall, Aurum is most effective in patients who experience feelings such as discouragement, self-reproach, humiliation, anger, suicidal thoughts, emptiness and worthlessness. It is also believed that people who feel better when they go for outdoor walks respond well to Aurum.
As the name suggests, this homeopathic remedy is derived from calcium carbonate.
The calcium carbonate used in preparing this homeopathic remedy is obtained from oyster shells which is ground into fine powder and used in its full strength.
This homeopathic remedy is useful for people who appear to be strong, dependable and industrious, but are actually shy and reserved. These individuals tend to be overwhelmed and weighed down as a result of too much work.
This homeopathic remedy is known to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, confusion, discouragement, self-pity, and a fear of impending disaster.
People who are sluggish, sweat heavily, and frequently suffer from insomnia are believed to respond better to this remedy. The characteristic traits of those who respond to this homeopathic remedy also include preference for staying at home and introversion.
This is a solution prepared by blending a mixture of potash sulfate and slaked lime. The resultant mixture is then watered down (diluted) with distilled water followed by succussion.
This homeopathic remedy was prepared by the founder of homeopathy (Dr. Samuel Hahnemann) himself. Therefore, it is highly regarded among homeopaths and, therefore, commonly used in the treatment of various ailments including depression.
The homeopathic remedy causticum is most appropriate for people who often feel deep sympathy towards others, and are easily discouraged or angry about the perceived lack of justice in the world. Causticum also suits people who feel depressed as a result of grief or a recent loss.
These people often show symptoms such as mental dullness, forgetfulness and they may cry frequently.
This remedy is obtained from the seeds of St. Ignatius beans. Although a potent poison known as strychnine is found in these seeds, the dilution process during the preparation of ignatia has made the remedy harmless.
Ignatia is most suited for people, especially women, who try to suppress an emotional feeling, especially grief, after the loss of someone or a failed relationship. People who need this remedy are usually those who often feel emotionally weak and touchy. Furthermore, a lumpy throat or frequent yawning may indicate a need for ignatia.
Lastly, ignatia is also helpful for depressed people who experience insomnia, headaches, and cramping pains in the abdomen and back.
This homeopathic remedy is obtained from potassium phosphate. It very helpful in treating conditions such as mental fatigue, anxiety and depression. Unlike most homeopathic remedies, Kali phosphoricum is limited to the treatment of psychological and stress-related disorders.
Potassium, which is a component of the parent material used in preparing kali, is found in and essential to the workings of the brain and nerve cells.
This homeopathic remedy will benefit those people who often feel depressed after working too hard and who experience emotional stress as a result. These set of people are often withdrawn from people and they also sweat a lot.
Symptoms such as headaches, irritation, sensitivity to cold, anemia, insomnia, and indigestion are observed in people in respond well to this remedy.
Natrum is made from sodium carbonate and it helps in the treatment of digestive problems and nervous disorders.
Depressed patients who respond well to this remedy tend to be nervous and sensitive to the sun, weather changes, and many foods, especially milk. They are often gentle and usually feel depressed after being hurt or disappointed.
Natrum works best for depressed patients with symptoms such as digestive problems, headache, cold, exhaustion and ankle weakness.
This solution is prepared from the pigment found in the ink sac of the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish belongs to the Mollusca family which includes squids and octopus.
The preparation of the remedy involves dehydrating the ink after it has been obtained from the cuttlefish. It is then repeatedly diluted with milk sugar and shaken thoroughly (succussion). The resulting solution, which contains no trace of ink, is the homeopathic remedy and it is safe for human use.
Sepia is known to have one the widest ranges of applications among homeopaths and it can be used in the treatment of various health conditions.
Sepia is usually prescribed to depressed patients with symptoms such as lethargy, debility and mood swings. The remedy is especially useful for women suffering from post-natal depression, loss of libido and symptoms relating to menopause.
It also suits people who feel irritable, indifferent to family members, weary and depressed patients who always prefer to be in seclusion away from people.
This remedy is obtained from the seeds of the plant called Delphinium staphysagria.
The homeopathic remedy staphysagria is prepared by crushing the seeds of the plant and then diluting in alcohol to the desired levels.
Many nerve-related disorders including depression can be treated with the use of this homeopathic remedy.
Staphysagria is most appropriate for symptoms such as insomnia, toothaches, headaches, stomach aches, or stress-related bladder infections.
It is often prescribed, and also believed to work best, for people who are quiet, sensitive and emotional but are prone to bursting into feats of rage. In addition, staphysagria will also benefit people whose depression occurred after they have been hurt, disappointed and have tried to suppress their emotions.
This remedy is obtained from windflower and it has a long history of usage in homeopathy.
Pulsatilla is prepared from freshly harvested windflower plants which are chopped into small pieces. The finely chopped plants are then soaked in alcohol and allowed to stand for a period of time. After repeated dilution, the solution is then forcefully stirred.
Pulsatilla is usually prescribed for women and children. Various depressive conditions relating to menstruation, labor, menopause as well as pregnancy are addressed with the use of this homeopathic remedy.
This remedy is appropriate for depressed people who are jealous, whinny, moody, sad or tearful. These people are often described as sensitive, refined, and serious-minded. They are usually inclined to feel anger, grief and are in constant fear of losing control. Depression in this set of people may be triggered by these factors.
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