Depression is due to an internal imbalance that needs to be addressed on a homeopathic “constitutional” level by discovering the individuality of the person holistically.
This is not just an attitude problem, but is due to an internal imbalance that needs to be addressed on a deeper, or constitutional level. In homeopathy there is no specific treatment for depression per se, because homeopathy rather than trying to diagnose the particular type of the ailment a person is experiencing, looks at each person as a completely unique individual.
The homeopathic “constitutional” approach is one of discovering the individuality of the person suffering from the complaint by taking a holistic portrait that is not only based on the symptoms experienced during a depression episode, but also understanding the personality and individual temperament. The idiosyncrasies that are often ignored in other modalities of treatment may be of great importance in homeopathy in order to determine the specific homeopathic remedy.
As opposed to conventional therapy, homeopathic treatment does not treat depression by masking the symptoms with medication. In addition, conventional treatment requires the continual use of the medication, without which the symptoms would recur. In contrast homeopathic treatment targets the cause resulting in a permanent cure of the condition by stimulating the individual’s own natural forces of recovery, instead of prescribing medications based solely on the diagnosis. In homeopathy we cure the individual thereby eliminating the symptoms!
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There are various kinds of depression, and they have some symptoms in common. These symptoms may include withdrawal from usual activities, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate or to make decisions, decreased energy level, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and even thoughts of suicide and death. When your depression is mild, changes in your environment may lead to some improvement, but not when your depression is severe.
There also are age-associated features. In early childhood, separation anxiety is a common factor. In early adolescence, negative and antisocial behavior may occur. Older boys and girls exhibit sexual acting out, truancy, and running away. In elderly people, pseudodementia—depression that is evident primarily as a loss of intellectual functioning—must be carefully differentiated from the true dementia caused by organic mental disorder.
A major depressive disorder, sometimes called endogenous depression, is not merely sadness or grief but is a genuine psychiatric illness that affects both your mind and your body. If you are depressed, you tend to retreat from human relationships, have trouble functioning in society and using your talents, be unable to enjoy life, and even feel suicidal.
Stricken with much more desperate feelings than merely the "blues" or being "down in the dumps," you may become incapacitated, unable to hold a steady job, derive no pleasure from your life, and have difficulty interacting with others. Sometimes, although not always, you may have psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. By and large, however, the physical symptoms of depression—a characteristic hollowness around your eyes, uninflected speech, and a slowed gait—are the signs of depression.
Depression is more common among women than among men. Because it is both debilitating and associated with suicidal tendencies, a major depressive disorder is considered serious. But this type of depression, even in its most severe form, occasionally is self-limited. It may run its course and terminate without treatment within 6 months to a year. Meanwhile, however, your existence may be almost intolerable, and suicide is a great temptation.
Because depression is so common, many therapies have been developed to treat it. At first, treatment of a major depression often includes hospitalization, especially if you threaten suicide or display suicidal behavior.
The various types of therapy have some characteristics in common. Virtually all therapeutic situations operate on the assumption that you can change, that you can learn to cope better with life traumas and inner struggles. If you are depressed, you usually visit the psychiatrist because you believe that there is hope for relief.
Psychotherapy is used, often in conjunction with medication, to help you understand the sources of your depression and to find other ways of coping with inner conflicts.
Cognitive therapy is a short-term psychotherapy developed to treat both depression and anxiety. The idea is that self-defeating patterns of thinking make us feel depressed because our negative thoughts influence our feelings. In cognitive therapy, you may be asked to write down your negative thoughts. The therapist then helps you identify the distortions in them and suggests constructive alternatives.
Medications to treat depression come in three main types, the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's), and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Antidepressants are more helpful when your depression has discrete episodes that seem to have a life of their own rather than in chronic or situational depression. Imipramine (Tofranil) and amitriptyline (Elavil) are the most frequently used tricyclic antidepressants, but the most common type of antidepressant medication used today is the SSRI's. Examples are fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil). However, no medications deal with the intrapsychic and interpersonal issues that may have contributed to your depression. For this reason, the most effective treatment may be to combine both medication and psychotherapy.
In the movies, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been depicted as repressive and cruel, but most psychiatrists consider it one of the most effective and humane treatments for depression. It is used primarily for major depressive episodes.
Unlike antidepressants, ECT works quickly (often within a few days) and is more likely to be decisively helpful when the problem is serious. Physicians do not know exactly how it works, but it may alter the rate at which brain chemicals, called catecholamines, affect your central nervous system cells. Before undergoing ECT, you are anesthetized with a barbiturate and given a muscle relaxant. Side effects commonly include temporary memory loss, headaches, and muscle aches. Nonetheless, ECT remains the most effective treatment available for major depression. Its risks are significantly lower than the risks of untreated severe depression (which include suicide). ECT can be safely used in most medically ill and elderly patients.
Mental health professionals refer to manic-depressive illness as bipolar disorder. It is characterized by recurring periods of mental illness in which episodes of excitement and hyperactivity (mania) either occur alone or alternate with periods of depression.
Everyone has moods, but extreme and unpredictable mood swings from highly excited euphoria to the darkest depths of despair and depression characterize bipolar disorder. In most people, mood changes are a response to events in the environment, but when elation or depression occurs without relation to the circumstances, this is manic-depressive illness. Your feelings may become so intense that they take over completely, and you lose contact with the real world. The manic phase usually is the episode that may require the person to be hospitalized. During the manic episode, you may feel very "high" or irritable. Euphoria may not be obvious to those who do not know you well, but friends and loved ones will come to recognize it as unusual or as typical of the manic phase. Your speech and thoughts seem to run at high speed, so fast that it is difficult to understand them. Your speech may become so laden with puns, jokes, and plays on words that, after a while, it makes little sense.
The self-esteem of an individual with manic-depressive illness may soar, often to the point of delusions of grandeur. In fact, you are likely to be hyperactive, eager to take on far more activities than you can reasonably handle. Should such activities be thwarted, however, irritability may result. You may have an inability to judge the consequences of your actions, manifested in shopping sprees, self-destructive sexual activity, unwise business decisions, or reckless driving. You may change moods frequently, alternately laughing and crying, and there may be fleeting delusions or hallucinations.
If untreated, the manic episode may last for weeks, during which you are physically restless, highly talkative, likely to sleep less, and easily distracted.
During the depressed phase (which is the more frequent form of the illness), you appear depressed for most of the day, nearly every day. You lose interest and pleasure in nearly all activities, may lose or gain a great deal of weight, and usually have a change in sleeping patterns. You may be fatigued, suffer from feelings of worthlessness, and have trouble concentrating. You may withdraw completely, speaking only rarely. Often, there are recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. If untreated, the depressive phase may last for months.
Often, two or more complete cycles (a manic episode and a major depression that follow each other with no period of remission) will occur within a year. This situation may be called rapid cycling and seems to be more chronic than other types of bipolar disorder. Although major depression is more common in women, bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women. About 1 percent of the adult population have had this disease. The disorder usually appears between the ages of 15 and 25. It occurs much more often in immediate relatives of people with bipolar disorder than in the general population.
Alternating pattern of emotional highs (characterized by high-spirited behavior) and emotional lows or depressions. The manic and major depression episodes may alternate rapidly every few days.
Symptoms of depression are prominent and last for a full day or more.
Tranquilizing drugs help control the manic phase. Antidepressant drugs can treat the depression episodes. Lithium carbonate is the standard treatment for manic episodes, and the regular use of this drug may prevent uncontrolled mood swings. Certain anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) can be helpful in those persons who cannot tolerate lithium carbonate. In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy may be necessary. It is always important to be aware that the danger of suicide is present. When you appear to have suicidal tendencies, it is important for those closest to you to express a caring attitude. In these cases, however, you will probably need to be hospitalized.
Hospitalization also is necessary if you are in a depressed phase and regress so much that you are unable to take care of personal needs at home. Likewise, if your doctor prescribes electroconvulsive therapy or expects the antidepressant medication to have severe side effects, it may be appropriate to admit you to the hospital. On the other hand, considering how severe the depressed phase often is in bipolar disorder, it is surprising how frequently outpatient treatment is successful. During the depressed phase, psychotherapy usually serves only as a means of emotional support. The therapist will explain the illness to those closest to you, establish a rapport with you, and foster a sense of hope and planning for the future. You may receive a structured daily program and the therapist will determine the risk of suicide and intervene when necessary.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an extreme form of the "winter blahs." True forms of this disorder are unusual; most people with "cabin fever" do not have SAD.
If you do have it, you tend to sleep a great deal in the winter. You may gain a great deal of weight because you gorge on carbohydrates. Low on energy and highly irritable, you get many headaches, feel very stressed, and may have crying spells. The cause of SAD is not yet known, but it may be linked to your body's biological clock, which controls temperature and hormone production. It usually begins in adolescents or young adults and is more common among women than men. Some people outgrow it, but it may last a lifetime.
An innovation in the treatment of SAD uses fluorescent bulbs for light therapy. Patients may read, but not sleep, for several hours a day in front of specially designed, bright lights. The symptoms usually subside within a few days, but reappear if therapy stops. Researchers are investigating the use of full-spectrum light bulbs to extend the hours of sunlight artificially.
Also known as an adjustment disorder with a depressed mood, situational depression is a prolonged episode of "the blues" that may occur after a disappointment or loss or during mid-life. Situational depression is not the same as normal grieving after the death of a loved one, illness, or other misfortune, although it may be triggered by such an event.
Depression also may be a side effect of certain medications, particularly in a person who tends toward depression.
Situational depression may decrease when the problem that triggered it fades. On the other hand, you may become so depressed that there is a risk of suicide. Consequently, it is important to provide emotional support.
At first, when you are acutely depressed, psychotherapy can provide that support while antidepressant medication helps to relieve the symptoms. Then, when the symptoms improve, psychotherapy can help you understand why the depression occurred: Are there solutions to your external life problems that might prove less stressful? Did the episode that triggered the depression recall a childhood conflict long buried in your unconscious? Do you have low self-esteem, view the situation as hopeless, or feel uncomfortable expressing negative feelings such as hostility or anger? Would a change of scenery or routine be helpful?
A professional may recommend one of several different types of therapy in the case of depression. Cognitive therapy can help you view your situation differently by identifying and testing self-defeating ways of thinking about it (negative cognitions). For example, if you tend to be pessimistic, you are likely to suffer from feelings of hopelessness. If you expect failure, you may be apathetic and unwilling to exert yourself. Once the therapist has helped you to identify these thinking patterns, you can develop new approaches to the situation.
Family therapy can help you improve your marriage or family life or both, so that the depression does not adversely affect other family members and the family members do not contribute further to your depression.
Too often, family and associates are shocked at a suicide, saying things like, "I had no idea; he seemed so happy." In fact, your behavior may not match descriptions of these warning signs precisely but, related to your normal personality, changes may be evident. When you or someone you know displays warning signs of potential suicide, it is important to keep a close watch (to see that the opportunity for suicide does not arise), and to seek professional help as soon as possible. Begin by calling your local suicide hotline or a local psychiatrist or psychologist. A person who is contemplating taking his or her own life may show one or more symptoms (see below). However, it is important to keep in mind that these warning signs are only guidelines. There is no one type of suicidal person.
Withdrawal: You are unwilling to communicate and appear to have an overwhelming urge to be alone. You are withdrawing into a shell. Trouble at work can be a symptom of a withdrawal from the workplace, just as poor grades can signal a retreat from school. Rejection of forms of recreation you usually consider pleasurable may also be a warning sign.
Moodiness: Although we all have our ups and downs, when the shifts are drastic—an emotional "high" one day followed by being "down in the dumps" the next—there is cause for alarm. Sudden, inexplicable calm after a spell of gloom is a danger sign; it may indicate that you may have decided on suicide as the solution to the problem.
Life Crisis or Trauma: If you are deeply depressed, divorce, death, or an accident can trigger a suicide attempt. The loss of self-esteem that may occur after loss of a job or a financial setback may produce suicidal thinking.
Personality Change: The wallflower turns into the life of the party, or vice versa. Or there might be a change in attitude toward personal appearance or a change in energy level.
Threat: You may state outright that you want to commit suicide, saying things like "I wish I'd never been born," or "You're going to be better off when I'm gone." The popular assumption that people who threaten suicide never really do it is not true.
Gift-Giving: You may begin to "bequeath" your most cherished belongings to friends and loved ones.
Depression: You appear to be physically depressed and may be unable to function socially or in the workplace.
Aggression: The suicidal urge may be manifested in your sudden participation in dangerous activities such as high-speed driving or unsafe sex.
The risk that the suicide actually will be completed is greater in older men, in people who have lost a spouse (by divorce or death), in alcoholics, in those with a history of previous suicide attempts, or in those with a family history of suicide.
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