Depression is a far too common illness in the United States where more than eight million people of all ages suffer from a major depression each year.There are many types of depression, from non-life threatening ten days of sadness to a very serious major depression that lasts months and frequently recurs every year, sometimes ending in suicide.
How do you know if you are depressed? Usually you feel tired, cry, feel sad, can’t concentrate, are irritable, lose interest in your job, and life doesn’t seem fun anymore. You may also feel guilty or worthless, may sleep too much or too little, lose or gain weight and have various aches and pains.
If you are sad and tired and have several of the above troubles for two weeks or more, this is called a major depression. In such a case be certain to check with your health care provider for the cause and best treatment.
At times, a major depression may be due to the side effects of prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol, or from thyroid problems or poor nutrition. Medical research has found more than one cause for depression.
Prescription drug treatment of major depression calls for a drug called an antidepressant or the new serotonin uptake inhibitors. These drugs work 80% of the time to help depressed people feel well again, as along as they keep taking the drugs. These drugs change the brain’s chemistry and when they are stopped the major depression usually comes back very fast, and the drugs have to be restarted and continuously taken. Antidepressant drugs, like Prozac and tricyclics, require a prescription because of potential serious side effects.
Most doctors treat depression only with antidepressant pills or electroshock because that is all they have been taught in medical school. Most doctors have never heard of, or studied, other ways such as music therapy, transcranial electrostimulation or the homeopathic medicines listed in the official Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States.
There are over 200 different homeopathic medicines that have been used to naturally treat various types of depression in the past 150 years. These homeopathic medicines are usually made from plants, minerals, and a few animal substances like snake and bee venoms and animal milks.
Homeopathic drug companies put the medicines in special solutions of alcohol, water, or sugar, that retain the healing properties and get rid of all the poisonous properties and side effects. This special homepathic way of making medicines makes them tasty and safe and much less expensive than chemical drugs. When homeopathic medicines are taken in 6X or higher dilution there is no possiblility of poisoning, anaphylactic shock, or allergic reaction.
The key to helping depressed people with homeopathic medicines is to find a medicine that is similar to the depressed person’s mind and body traits and complaints. Since there are over 200 homeopathic medicines for sadness, the health care provider must take the time to talk with and examine the patient, completely understanding all their bodily complaints. This often requires more than one hour of time and the use of reference books and other tools to find the most similar medicine that includes the treatment of all the patient’s complaints, and not just the depression.
For example, a woman with a serious depression who lost her desire to do anything responded to the homeopathic medicine AURUM metallicum which is the official homeopathic Latin name for gold. Her depression left her several days after taking tablets of Aurum metallicum. She was one of the 20% who did not improve by taking prescription antidepressant medications and she did not want electroshock treatment. Even after she stopped the Aurum, she remained free of sadness for months. At times her depression returned but never as severe as the first time, when, at the age of 65, her husband of 45 years died.
Every person can learn about self-care for their depressed moods, irritability, fatique, and sleep problems that may characterize a “minor depression.” Homeopathy is appropriate in stressful situations like the death of a loved one, a separation/divorce/loss of a job. If left untreated and your mood and body changes last more than a week or so, you may be building a foundation for a future major depression. Your doctor should be consulted to discount other illnesses that could be underlying your depression. Why not try to nip these mind changes in the bud with commonly used homeopathic medicines that have stood the test of time as natural, safe, and effective over-the-counter remedies.
Some degree of individualizing is necessary for homeopathics to help. At the very least you can check in your health food store for a combination homeopathic medicine labeled for nerves, insomnia, stress-calming or the like. These combinations have several medicines in pill or liquid form. Homeopathic medicines always have their official Latin names and strength listed on the label. Names such as Ignatia amara, Phosphoricum acidum, Sepia, Pulsatilla nigricans, Lachesis mutans, Apis mellifica, Gelsemium sempervirens, Natrum sulphuricum, Natrum muriaticum, Chamomilla, Sulphur, and Nux vomica are often the ingredients used in combination homeopathic medicines for mood and sleep troubles.
Dosages of the combination homeopathics are on the package or bottle and may be used at any age and with any prescription. If you are already being treated homeopathically, check with your practitoner before adding a homeopathic self-care remedy because one homeopathic medicine may block the action of another.
If you have the time to individualize your self-care for a minor depression you may have better results using a single homeopathic medicine rather than a combination which may not include the medicine that is most similar to your particular needs.For the usual grief from the death of a loved one try Ignatia amara 6X or 30X, or any potency in between these numbers. Ignatia is used when you feel like you are going to “lose it.” You can not even function except to sigh and sob. Your head may ache, tobacco smoke really bothers you. There maybe a lump in your throat that cannot be swallowed. Ignatia can help when you notice that eating improves your mood, your sleep, your hiccoughs, your stomach ache. All you want to do is munch to soothe everything. Ignatia helps to bring back the menstrual period that you skipped after grief. Ignatia also helps relieve itchy skin or hives from nerves especially if it worsens from getting warm.
Ignatia will not cause daytime drowsiness or impair your ability to drive safely. Remember to stop taking the medicine when you get better.
Ignatia will not work for everyone with a mild depression, so also consider trying Sepia or Pulsatilla.
Sepia is for those who are tired from overwork, too many kids to raise, who have lost their sex drive, have menstrual problems or PMS, and are sick of being around their loved ones. A person who needs Sepia hates to be consoled or given sympathy, withdraws, is weepy, irritable, a screamer, tends to have brown spots on their face, a yellowish complexion, has sluggish circulation, feels cold and improves with a lot of exercise like aerobics or running miles a day.
Pulsatilla has different and similar characteristics to Sepia and Ignatia and is often used to help people over mild depressions and sadness. Pulsatilla nigricans is for those people who are weepy, but love to be consoled and given sympathy and who feel better outdoors in the fresh air or under a fan or with the windows open. Those who get better with Pulsatilla are hot body types, rarely thirsty, often have menstrual and stomach troubles and may have a lot of mucus from their sinuses or nose. They also and retain fluid easily.
Just knowing about three homeopathic medicines can give you a start in self-care of minor depression. If these symptoms persist,you must get medical help. To learn more about homeopathy and to buy books and homeopathic supplies, contact the not-for-profit organization, The National Center for Homeopathy (see separate listing). The NCH sponsors conferences and courses as well as hundreds of study groups in various states, all to help you understand and know when and how to use homeopathic medicines to restore your health.
Dr. Wilson has been in private family practice for twenty-five years and now consults for pharmaceutical companies with an interest in homeopathic medicine. She is Board certified in Family Practice and a diplomate of the American Board of Homeotherapeutics, she lectures about incorporating homeopathy into a medical practice and often appears on radio and TV as a medical expert on homeopathy, and the integration of complementary therapies into our health care systen. You may reach her by FAX at (619) 747-1709 or by phone (619) 747-2144.