Search This Blog

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Depression. Conventional or Homeopathic treatment?

Depression seems to be an ever-increasing problem in modern society, and patients should realise that they have a choice of treatment, from counselling services, to Homeopathy, and other Alternative Therapies, to conventional medicine’s antidepressant and antipsychotics drugs.
Conventional Medical Treatment for Depression
According to the NHS Direct website, your doctor might refer you for counselling (talking therapy), and if he does this there are no drugs involved, and therefore no adverse consequences. Otherwise, the doctor will prescribe Antidepressant drugs, of which there are evidently about 30 different kinds.
SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors)
These are drugs based on Prozac, thought to be a ‘wonder’ drug when it was first introduced in the 1990’s. They are frequently known to have very serious adverse reactions, which include apathy, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, headache, tinnitus, dizziness, fatigue, urinary retention, insomnia, weight loss or gain, increased risk of bone fracture, unwanted changes in sexual behaviour, depression and anxiety, panic attacks, tremors, renal impairment, cardio-vascular problems, suicidal thoughts, photosensitivity, mania, hypomania, bipolar disorder, and much more.
The sexual side effects have been widely commented upon, such as sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, diminished libido.
But it is the increased risk of suicide in children and adolescents that have been most worrying, and this has led to a few of these drugs being withdrawn from the market, whilst the remaining SSRI drugs now have ‘black box’ warning about their ‘adverse reactions’!
TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants)
These drugs are also known to have adverse reactions, including minor side-effects like dry mouth, dry nose, blurry vision, to more serious conditions such as constipation, urinary retention, cognitive and memory impairment, and increased body temperature. They are also known to cause drowsiness, anxiety, apathy, confusion, restlessness, dizziness, hypersensitivity, changes in appetite and weight, sweating, sexual dysfunction, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting,, hypotension, tachycardia, and irregular heart rhythms. They can also cause hallucinations, delirium and coma by overdose.
MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)
This class of drugs also has serious adverse reactions. They include severe anxiety, confusion, seizures or convulsions, severe drowsiness or dizziness, cold clammy skin, rapid and irregular pulse, fever, hallucinations, severe headache, coma, tremors/spasms, excessively high or low blood pressure, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, extreme sleep difficulties, or abnormal irritability.
But above all, these drugs are known for the problems they cause when they interact with other drugs, and even with foods, so they have an effect on diet. They can also cause serious withdrawal symptoms.
SNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors).
The most common adverse reactions include loss of appetite, weight, and sleep, but there is also drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea/vomiting, sexual dysfunction, and urinary retention. There are two common sexual side effects - diminished interest in sex (libido) and difficulty reaching climax, similar to the SSRIs.
Drug Withdrawal Symptoms
As NHS Direct says, antidepressants can be addictive, and when you stop taking them yuo may have some withdrawal symptoms, such as:
  • upset stomach
  • flu-like symptoms
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • vivid dreams at night
  • sensations in the body that feel like electric shocks
ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy)
If these drugs do not work, then you might be offered ECT, where you will be given an anaesthetic and drugs to ‘relax’ your muscles, and then receive electric shocks to your brain.

Homeopathy has been treating depression now for over 200 years. In the Homeopathy Materia Medica the term ‘depression’ is not used. It is a highly medicalised word. Instead, it is the word ‘sadness’ that is used. Large numbers of homeopathic remedies have large, and quite intricate symptom pictures dealing with all kinds of emotions - including sadness or depression. 
In his book, Homeopathic Psychology, Philip Bailey, MD lists 35 remedies as being the most useful, and provides detailed psychological descriptions of each remedy. Here are some of them, with brief descriptions.
Powerful depression: despair, anger, anxiety. often contemplates suicide; alternates with contained state. Withdraws into self (Nat Mur, Aurum) Desire to kill self with knife. PMT; post natal depression. Confusion with sudden bouts of rage or violent impulses
Aurum Metallicum
Endoginous / organic depression; in the pit of despair, with self-loathing; self-recrimination, isolation. Silent, flat emotional expression. Does not weep. Suicide seems an attractive option; thinks fondly of death
The chief remedy for grief (with Nat Mur). Both feel unloved during childhood, trauma of losing love. Nat Mur is more controlled, silent grief. Ignatia will sob hysterically at first, shock reaction, followed by weeks of emotional volatility. Loss of control; hysterical. Also tends to isolate herself (epilepsy, cramps, numbness, etc); can be deep /prolonged; uncontrolled weeping, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite; hysteria
Not really a depressive type; but withdraws; sits/broods; has little self-respect; entertains suicidal thoughts; worse when waking, improves as day goes on.
Nat Mur
More prone to depression than any other group; arises from suppressed sadness, inability to cry; many abused women; sudden onset; triggered by loss of love (bereavement, separation); series of traumas, starting with difficult birth; lack confidence and self-esteem; a silent depression; apathy; sleeps/eats a lot; better for company; but withdrawn, and consolation makes her worse; related to hormones in female cycle;  suicidal; manic depressives (depression alternating with euphoria).
Nat Sulph
Depression and mania. Pressure of thoughts, dwells on past. Thoughts crowd in, obsessive. Many regrets. Unrealistic romantic desire. A gentle melancholy, but resists suicide because of strong family ties. Very sensitive, emotional person, strong sense of values. Claustrophobia, stoicism, self-reproach in more depressive cases.
Phos Ac
Profound grief, ailments from grief; separation from partner, emotions shut down. They can remember a time when they were happy, and that their feelings are not normal. Being in a state of limbo. Long term grief. Very passive.
Sensitive to withdrawal of affection; insecure, weeps, runs to bedroom when unhappy, or shouts and cries; irritable. When happy, excitable or mild and co-operative; fun loving, sociable; flirtatious; interested in personal side of relationships.
When true nature suppressed, loses spirit, deadens appetite for life; sluggish mentally and physically, loses enthusiasm; emotions blunted, she becomes indifferent (to family), just feels irritable, impatient; unsociable. Loses enjoyment of being sociable, indifferent to pleasure. Drained of energy and motivation. Feels panicky, weepy, anxious; restless; fears develop; fear of insanity; depression, suicidal; agoraphobia, withdrawal.
Veratrum Alb
Manic-depressive psychosis, with manic side more to the fore. Restless, aimlessly busy, cannot sit still. Depression - brooding despair; sits silently for hours thinking about how wretched he feels. Despairs of recovery; suicidal.

Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs) on Homeopathy

Homeopathic Individualized Q-potencies versus Fluoxetine for moderate to severe depression: double-blind, Randomized non-inferiority trial.
Adler, Paiva, Cesar, Adler, Molina, Padula, Calil.  August 2009
eCAM 2009; Page 1 of 8; doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep114
 “This study illustrates the feasibility of randomized controlled double-blind trials of homeopathy in depression and indicates the non-inferiority of individualised homeopathic Q-potencies as compared to fluoxetine in acute treatment of outpatients with moderate to severe depression”.
(In other, simpler words, the authors found that individualised homeopathic prescribing using Q (LM) potencies is as effective as fluoxetine in the treatment of patients suffering acute moderate to severe depression). For more information on Fluoxetine, see this link.
Homeopathy for depression: a systematic review of the research evidence. 
Pilkington K, et al. (2008)

Homeopathy, 94, 153-163