Homeopathic Medicine for Chronic Anxiety & StressMahnaz Shahrzad Asr, D.H.M.H.S, H.D., C.B.P. September 1, 2011
The words “stress” and “anxiety” are often used interchangeably, but bear different meanings in medical terms. Stress is caused by particular situations or events in one’s life that makes one feel frustrated, angry, worried or even anxious. The stress response is different for each individual such that the same event can often illicit disparate responses. For example:
• Public speaking excites some but terrifies others;
• Pressure from deadlines increases productivity in some but renders others paralyzed;
• Difficult circumstances in family or friend settings find some eager to take control and others stricken with panic;
• Social situations requiring people to voice their opinions are easy and comfortable for some but stressful for others;
• Changes in the work environment are welcomed by some but not by others.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a general feeling of apprehension or fear, the source of which is not clearly defined. Anxiety disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that cause excessive anxiety. They include:
• Generalized anxiety – Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events);
• Specific phobia – a phobia is a persistent and irrational fear of a particular type of object, animal, activity, or situation that poses little to no actual danger;
• Obsessive compulsive disorder – is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviours that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviours to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief (not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety);
• Social Phobia – is a persistent and irrational fear of situations that may involve scrutiny or judgment by others, such as parties and other social events.
Those suffering from anxiety disorders display such symptoms on a regular basis and thus have difficulty with daily activities and relationships. These symptoms present themselves sporadically and often without warning.
In many cases, anxiety is developed by overdue stress that is no longer linked to a specific cause.
HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES FOR OVERCOMING STRESS
Homeopathy is effective because it is a holistic medical practice that treats the person as a whole and thus addresses the underlying issues that lead to stress. Homeopathy recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and treats him/her accordingly.
Identifying the factors that cause stress, and the various reactions to such factors, are of utmost importance in homeopathy since symptoms are most often manifested when one is exposed to an external force stronger than his/her internal vitality and immune system. Therefore treating symptoms superficially will only act as a temporary palliative and will not provide a lasting cure. Classical homeopathy, in its aim to cure the underlying stress response, can permanently eliminate its symptoms.
Factors such as the mental/emotional state of a person, the location of the symptom, the behaviour of the person towards the symptom, susceptibility, family history, and more are addressed and analyzed by the practitioner, allowing her to recognize underlying causes of stress or anxiety experienced by the individual, and to administer a fitting remedy.
Below is a partial list of stress remedies, along with their disease pictures. Keep in mind that these remedies may only act as immediate palliatives and will not permanently cure stress or anxiety unless they are a constitutional match to one’s vital state.
Argentum nitricum (Arg-n) — This remedy is indicated when anxiety develops before a big event (ie. an interview for a job, an exam, a public speech, social engagement, marriage, etc.).
Symptoms: Emotional upset; Fear; Anxiety; Extended periods of unusual or continued mental exertion; Dizziness; Diarrhea; Craving for sweets and salt; Craving for strong flavours. This type of person is enthusiastic and suggestible, with a tendency toward peculiar thoughts and impulses.
Arsenicum album (Arsenicum, Ars) — This remedy is recommended for people who are deeply anxious about their health, and extremely concerned with order and security. 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. They are typically obsessive about small details and very neat. They may feel a desperate need to be in control of everything.
Symptoms: Anxious; Anxiety associated with later stages of head cold, with sneezing; Asthma worse after midnight, fears suffocation while lying down; Fearful; Irritable; Restless; Sleepiness but insomnia; Thirsty for frequent small drinks; Weak and exhausted; Desires air but sensitive to cold; Vomiting with or without diarrhea after eating and drinking.
Calcarea Carbonica (Calc) — People who benefit most from this remedy have a chilly constitution. The slightest cold “goes right through them.” They have trouble keeping themselves warm. They have a craving for sweets, and are easily fatigued. They are 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.
Symptoms: Increased perspiration; Night sweats; Cold hands and feet; Dizziness; Nausea; Ravenous hunger; Aversion to fats; Craving for eggs; Eyes sensitive to light; Pale face; Large appetite with slow digestion
Gelsemium (Gels) — This remedy is indicated when you have feelings of weakness, trembling, and mental dullness (being “paralyzed by fear”). It is also useful when a person experiences anxiety about an upcoming event such as stage-fright about a public performance or interview, or anxiety before a test, impending visit to the dentist, etc. 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.
Symptoms: Nervousness; Apprehension; Anxiety prior to an examination or public performance; Fatigue and aching of whole body; Limbs, head, eyelids heavy; Headache; Scalp sore to touch; Sore throat; Lack of thirst; Dizziness, trembling, fatigue, dullness.
Ignatia amara (Ignatia, Ign) — A sensitive person who is anxious because of grief, loss, disappointment, criticism, loneliness (or any stressful emotional experience) may benefit from this remedy. The primary factor for this remedy is emotional stress, especially disappointment or grief. Other indications are a defensive attitude, frequent sighing, and mood swings. The person may burst unexpectedly into either tears or laughter.
Symptoms: Vomiting; Sensation of a lump in the throat; Chills with fever; Thirst during chills; Chills relieved by warmth; Cramping pains in the abdomen or back; Headaches that feel like a nail driven into the side of the head; Skin very sensitive to drafts; Introspective; Sad; Brooding; Tearful; Rejects company; Disappointed; Grieving; Insomnia from emotional distress; Nausea relieved by eating; Eating intensifies hunger.
Kali phosphoricum (Kal phos) — Indicated when a person has been exhausted by overwork or illness. Feels a deep anxiety and inability to cope. Jumpy and oversensitive. 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.
Symptoms: Exhaustion; Deep anxiety and inability to cope; Headaches; Jumpy and oversensitive; Startled by ordinary sounds; Backaches ; Nervous digestive upsets.
Lycopodium (Lyc) — Lycopodium patients attempt to cover an inner sense of inadequacy by putting up fronts, by pretending to be something they are not. They feel anxiety from mental stress and suffer from a lack of confidence. They can be self conscious and intimidated by people they perceive as powerful. They can feel a deep anxiety and fear of failure, when they take on responsibility. They usually do well, once started on a task.
Symptoms: Shakes head without any apparent cause; Facial contortions; Gassy, constipation or diarrhea; Sour belching; Claustrophobia; Irritability; Digestive upsets with gas and bloating; Craves sweets, warm food and drink; Night cough; Wants to be alone; Cranky on waking; Bullying tendency; Fear of failure; Breaking down under stress.
Natrum muriaticum (Nat mur) — The primary candidates for this remedy are personally aloof but have a social conscience and a desire to help others. 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. Easily hurt and offended, they can brood, bear grudges, dwell on unhappy feelings, and isolate themselves. They refuse consolation even when they want it. They are often sympathetic listeners to other people’s problems. Claustrophobia, anxiety at night, migraines, and insomnia are often seen when this remedy is needed.
Symptoms: Tongue feels dry; Mucous membranes dry; Nausea; Insomnia; Claustrophobia; Migraine headache; Vomiting; Pains around eyes; Craves salt and dry foods; Weepy but won’t let others see it. (Wants to be alone to cry.); Consolation aggravates them; Angry from isolation; Fright, grief, anger; Nervous, discouraged, broken down; Depressed.
Stress is an emotional and physical strain caused by one’s response to pressure exerted from the outside world. Long-term stress can sometimes turn into anxiety and cause an array of behavioural, mental and emotional symptoms. Constant stress increases blood pressure as well as the risk of a stroke. It can also increase the danger of heart attacks, particularly if anger and mistrust is involved. It triggers addictive behaviours that contribute to death and disability, such as smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, and overeating.
Addictive habits and superficial attempts to change one’s lifestyle may not work in severe cases of anxiety or stress because they fail to address the root issues that lead to symptoms. Homeopathy, on the other hand, is one of the best ways to address underlying issues and ultimately remove stress and anxiety, which in turn brings physical health if the remedy is prescribed professionally.