Friday, 20 February 2015

Anxiety? Homeopathic Treatment, or Conventional Drug Treatment?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, unease or nervousness about something with an uncertain outcome, or a strong desire or concern about doing something, or for something to happen. It is usually distinguished from fear. Anxiety can sometimes be a generalised feeling, although sometimes it can involve phobias, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Conventional Medical Treatment for Anxiety
NHS Choices describes ‘generalised anxiety disorder’ as a long-term condition. It describes a number of treatment that ‘can help’, starting with some self-help strategies. It then move to psychology based treatments, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Relaxation Therapies, both of which can certainly be helpful, and without the damaging side-effects of drug treatment.

Drug treatment is the next treatment used by conventional medicine, with NHS Choices outlining that many of these can only be used on a short-term basis, and the importance of keeping in touch with your doctor, particularly concerning the adverse reactions known to be caused by these drugs.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
These are antidepressant drugs, such a Sertraline, Escitalopram and Paroxetine, which seek to increase the level of serotonin in the brain. NHS Choices describe the main side effects of SSRI’s as
  • feeling sick, nausea
  • low sex drive
  • blurred vision
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • seating
  • agitation (!)
  • insomnia
Patients are warned not to stop taking these drugs because they have ‘withdrawal’ effects.

Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
NHS Choices says that if SSRIs do not work, SNRIs are used. SNRIs are a different type of antidepressant drug, and mentions Venlafaxine and Duloxetine as examples. The common side effects of these drugs are described as follows.
  • feeling sick, nausea
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • low sex drive
  • raised blood pressure (monitored whilst taking SNRIs)
This is an anticonvulsant drug, used to treat epilepsy. The side effects of this drug are described as follows:
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • blurred vision
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • vertigo
  • nausea and low sex drive (but not so much as SSRI and SNRI drugs
Benzodiazepine Drugs
NHS Choices describe these as “a type of sedative that may sometimes be used as a short-term treatment during a particularly severe period of anxiety…” They include drugs such a Chlordiazepoxide, Diazepam and Lorazepam. Although they are described as ‘very effective in treating symptoms of anxiety” the warnings attached to them indicate how dangerous to our health they are known to be. They cannot be used ‘for long periods of time  because they can become addictive is used for longer than four week’, after which, in any case, they ‘begin to lose their effectiveness’.

The side effects of Benzodiazepine drugs are very considerable although NHS Choices admits only to these.
  • drowsiness (affecting ability to drive, use machinery)
  • difficulty concentrating
  • headaches
  • vertigo
  • tremor
  • low sex drive
Yet the impact of Benzodiazepine drugs are known to be much more severe than this, and anyone considering taking them should do further research, and not rely on conventional medical practitioners telling you about them.

The Homeopathic Treatment of Anxiety

Note. Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. It treats an individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease. The distinction is important. Click here to read more about “Illness Diagnosis”. 

Homeopathy works by matching the symptoms of illness with the known symptoms of remedies. These short remedy descriptions may guide you to a remedy that can work for you, but consulting with a qualified homeopath will enhance the chances of a good match. When a close match is found the remedy will work successfully, without any side effects, or adverse reactions.

These useful remedy descriptions are taken from the Similima website.

A panic attack that comes on suddenly with very strong fear (even fear of death) may indicate this remedy. A state of immense anxiety may be accompanied by strong palpitations, shortness of breath, and flushing of the face. Sometimes a shaking experience will be the underlying cause. Strong feelings of anxiety may also occur when a person is just beginning to come down with a flu or cold.

Argentum nit
This remedy can be helpful when anxiety develops before a big event: an exam, an important interview, a public appearance or social engagement. Dizziness and diarrhea may also be experienced. People who need this remedy are often enthusiastic and suggestible, with a tendency toward peculiar thoughts and impulses. They often crave sweets and salt (which usually make their symptoms worse).

People who are deeply anxious about their health, and extremely concerned with order and security, often benefit from this remedy. Obsessive about small details and very neat, they may feel a desperate need to be in control of everything. Panic attacks often occur around midnight or the very early hours of the morning. The person may feel exhausted yet still be restless—fidgeting, pacing, and anxiously moving from place to place. These people may also have digestive problems or asthma attacks accompanied by anxiety.

Calcarea carb
This remedy is usually indicated for dependable, solid people who become overwhelmed from physical illness or too much work and start to fear a breakdown. Their thoughts can be muddled and confused when tired, which adds to the anxiety. Worry and bad news may agitate them, and a nagging dread of disaster (to themselves or others) may develop. Fear of heights and claustrophobia are also common. A person who needs this remedy is often chilly and sluggish, has a craving for sweets, and is easily fatigued.

Feelings of weakness, trembling, and mental dullness (being “paralyzed by fear”) suggest a need for this remedy. It is often helpful when a person has stage-fright about a public performance or interview, or feels anxious before a test, a visit to the dentist, or any stressful event. Chills, perspiration, diarrhea, and headaches will often occur with nervousness. Fear of crowds, a fear of falling, and even a fear that the heart might stop are other indications for Gelsemium.

A sensitive person who is anxious because of grief, loss, disappointment, criticism, loneliness (or any stressful emotional experience) may benefit from this remedy. A defensive attitude, frequent sighing, and mood swings are other indications. The person may burst unexpectedly into either tears or laughter. Headaches that feel like a nail driven into the side of the head, and cramping pains in the abdomen or back, are often seen when this remedy is needed.

Kali phos
When a person has been exhausted by overwork or illness and feels a deep anxiety and inability to cope, this remedy may help. The person is jumpy and oversensitive, and may be startled by ordinary sounds. Hearing unpleasant news or thinking of world events can aggravate the problems. Insomnia and an inability to concentrate may develop, increasing the sense of nervous dread. Eating, warmth, and rest often bring relief. Headaches, backaches, and nervous digestive upsets are often seen when this remedy is needed.

Individuals likely to respond to this remedy feel anxiety from mental stress and suffer from a lack of confidence. They can be self-conscious and feel intimidated by people they perceive as powerful (yet may also swagger or be domineering toward those with whom they feel more comfortable). Taking on responsibility can cause a deep anxiety and fear of failure, although the person usually does well, once started on a task. Claustrophobia, irritability, digestive upsets with gas and bloating, and a craving for sweets are often seen when this remedy is needed.

Natrum mur
Deep emotions and a self-protective shyness can make these people seem reserved, aloof, and private. Even when feeling lonely, they tend to stay away from social situations, not knowing what to say or do. (Inhibitions sometimes leave completely if they turn to alcohol, which makes them feel embarrassed afterwards.) Easily hurt and offended, they can brood, bear grudges, dwell on unhappy feelings, and isolate themselves—refusing consolation even when they want it. However, they are often sympathetic listeners to other people’s problems. Claustrophobia, anxiety at night (with fears of robbers or intruders), migraines, and insomnia are often seen when this remedy is needed.

People who need this remedy are openhearted, imaginative, excitable, easily startled, and full of intense and vivid fears. Strong anxiety can be triggered by thinking of almost anything. Nervous and sensitive to others, they can overextend themselves with sympathy to the point of feeling exhausted and “spaced out” or even getting ill. They want a lot of company and reassurance, often feeling better from conversation or a back-rub. Easy flushing of the face, palpitations, thirst, and a strong desire for cold, refreshing foods are other indications for Phosphorus.

People who need this remedy often express anxiety as insecurity and clinginess, with a need for constant support and comforting. The person may be moody, tearful, whiny, even emotionally childish. (Pulsatilla is a very useful remedy for children.) Getting too warm or being in a stuffy room often increases anxiety. Fresh air and gentle exercise often bring relief. Anxiety around the time of hormonal changes (puberty, menstrual periods, or menopause) often is helped with Pulsatilla.

People who need this remedy are capable and serious, yet are also nervous, shy, and subject to bouts of temporary loss of confidence. Anxiety can be extreme when they are faced with a public appearance, interview, examination, or any new job or task. Worry and overwork can bring on headaches, difficulty concentrating, and states of exhaustion, oversensitivity, and dread. Responsible and diligent, they often overreact and devote attention to tiny details—making their worries (and their work) more difficult. They often have low stamina and come down with colds, sore throats, or other illnesses after working hard or being under stress.

Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs)

Conclusion. This is the first controlled clinical trial of chamomile extract for GAD. The results suggest that chamomile may have modest anxiolytic activity in patients with mild to moderate GAD. Future studies are needed to replicate these observations.

The information on this webpage represents the views and opinion of the author, based on his clinical experience, and the traditions of Homeopathy. This material is provided for information only, and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Always consult with a suitably qualified and registered Homeopath, or with a medical doctor for advice about the treatment they offer, especially in serious or life threatening medical conditions, or if you are already taking medical drugs.’