October 10, 2013

Homeopathy for the Mind

October 10 is World Mental Health Day
Mental health is an important part of all round well being. In today's fast-paced lifestyle, in spite of all the advances in technology and modern-day conveniences, anxiety disorders, stress-related illnesses, panic attacks, PTSD, and depression are commonly seen in populations around the world.  

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (Source - WHO). It is not merely the absence of mental disorder(s). Many factors contribute to mental health, including, but not limited to socio-economic, biological, work- or family-related stress, and unhealthy lifestyle.

Homeopathy has always given importance to mental health and homeopathic case taking requires inquiry into symptoms of the mind in all cases of chronic illness, and sometimes in acute illnesses too. The reason for this inquiry is the principles of homeopathy that say that the body, mind, and vital energy are all connected and affect one another. It is only recently that modern medicine has accepted the body-mind connection and opened up new departments for 'psychosomatic medicine' and 'integrated medicine'.

Let's look at some homeopathic remedies that are commonly used in maintaining mental health.

A woman came to me with great anxiety and palpitations of the heart. She had an intense liking for sugar and all things sweet. She was an impulsive person by nature. She was relieved of her anxiety after taking Argentum nitricum.  

Arsenicum album is recommended for persons who are extremely anxious about their health, and about maintaining order in their surroundings (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The saying 'A place for every thing and everything in its place' might have been written for an Arsenicum person. 

Someone who needs Gelsimium experiences muscular weakness along with anxiety. The person is sensitive to sunlight and often has headaches

Children who are emotionally affected by life's transitions by becoming clingy and insecure may need Pulsatilla. They feel better by being comforted.

Someone who needs Aurum metallicum is depressed to the extent of having suicidal thoughts; while someone who has many fears, including fear of death, may need Aconite

Hyoscyamus and Stramonium are indicated in different forms of mania, as is Belladonna.

Natrum muriaticum and Ignatia may be indicated for women with hormonal disturbances and emotional issues. A woman who had become depressed and indifferent towards life felt better after taking Sepia.

A person who has had failures at work and losses in business may need Bryonia or Lycopodium. There was the case of a man who worked hard and partied harder, pushing himself and his body to do more and more until he became irritable and angry with everything in life. His need for alcohol and caffeine reduced and he felt less stressed after taking Nux vomica

A student who was very shy, nervous, and couldn't concentrate on his studies just before his exams was helped by Silicea. He became more confident and did not dread his work any more.

These are just a handful remedies that I have named to illustrate how homeopathic remedies are used for symptoms of the mind. Virtually any remedy from the homeopathic materia medica (the manual of homeopathic remedies) can be used, as long as it best suits the person who it is given to. I cannot name the whole list of remedies here since the materia medica contains more than 3000 remedies!

It is important to remember that homeopathic remedies are given based on the individuality of each person and not on the name of a disease. Each person is unique and even though two people may appear to be affected by the same kind of illness, their symptoms will always differ. 

For example, depression may present as excessive eating, increased sleep, and intolerance to cold in one person; whereas it may present as decreased appetite and sleep, and intolerance to heat/sunlight in another person. While modern medicine gives pertinence to the name of the disease (the diagnosis), homeopathy only considers the person presenting with signs and symptoms. Therefore, even though two people have the same disease diagnosis, their homeopathic remedies may be different based on their own unique symptoms. 

Research has concluded that homeopathy can immensely help people who are troubled with anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of mental illnesses. As is obvious, it is imperative that the practitioner recognize signs of psychosis or suicidal tendencies and integrate other methods of treatment along with homeopathy. 

For the management of daily stress and the mental symptoms that arise due to tough life situations, homeopathic remedies can greatly help!