Sunday, June 30, 2013

Homeopathic Treatment of Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are very common today, depression affects 40% of the population every year with 20% developing clinical depression - low mood with sleep difficulties, changes in appetite, hopelessness, pessimism and sometimes thoughts of suicide. Last year alone 36 million prescriptions for antidepressants were handed out.

Anxiety is now such a universal problem that it is costing the UK more than £5 billion per year causing much suffering to the affected individual.

Conventional treatment offered for these conditions are mostly psychotherapy and drug treatment.

Drug treatment for anxiety consists mainly of beta-blockers and sedatives:

  • Beta-blockers reduce autonomic symptoms like palpitations and tremor and reduce the heart rate but do not affect psychological symptoms such as worry, tension and fear or non-autonomic function such as muscle tension.

  • Sedatives (mostly benzodiazepines, eg diazepam, better known as valium) are licensed for short-term relief of severe anxiety, but do cause dependence with severe withdrawal symptoms. Side effects may include drowsiness, confusion, ataxia, increase in aggression, depression, impaired motor function and learning, suppressed REM (rapid eye movement - the important dream phase) sleep, amnesia, dizziness and nausea.

Conventional drugs for depression divide into three groups: Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors, trycyclic and related drugs and the more modern selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. All of them can have many side effects, some very severe.

Natural alternatives for the treatment of anxiety and depression include St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), an unlicensed herbal product, and 5 HTP (5 Hydroxytryptophan), an amino acid and precursor to serotonin.

Both the natural as well as the conventional depression remedies work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, also known as 5 hydroxytrytamine. Higher brain serotonin levels lead to mood elevation.

St John's Wort can cause inducting of drug metabolising enzymes and a number of important interactions with conventional drugs have been identified for both St John's Wort and 5 HTP.

Both herbal and conventional antidepressants can lead to serotonin toxicity, a potentially life threatening syndrome. They also do not address the underlying issue, but rely on a constant supply of serotonin increasing substances, which increases the risk of side effects and is also costly.

Homeopathy treats anxiety and depression from a completely different angle trying to address the deeper causes of the disease origin. Rather than artificially increasing serotonin levels in the brain, it addresses the underlying problem, having caused the central imbalance within you. It can be very successful in addressing both anxiety and depression, making you long term independent of drug (herbal or conventional) treatment.

By taking a very detailed history, which will discuss not only your present symptoms, but also your medical history, family history, personality, preferences, dislikes, fears, dreams, any specific causes (never well since...) and modalities (what makes you better or worse) A homeopathic doctor will be able to find the right remedies to treat your central disturbance, which has caused your "disease". These medicines will naturally return you to a state of well being by changing the energy in your body. Not only your depression/anxiety will be addressed, but all other aspects of your body and mind. Treating your central disturbance will affect all parts of your body and both mental as well as physical symptoms will improve. Improvement can sometimes be fast and dramatic, but usually is gradual over time. Occasionally there can be an aggravation of some physical symptoms, but you should feel more energy, vitality and optimism.

A medically qualified homeopathic doctor will integrate homeopathic treatment with your present medications and work together with your GP, if needed.

Homeopathy is also completely safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding, making it a side effect free alternative in ante and postnatal depression.

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