Treatment of Chronic Depression and Anxiety Using Homeopathy
Michele Deisering, ND
This 41-year-old obese female came to see me for chronic insomnia, depression and anxiety. Acutely, she also had an ear infection, for which antibiotics had been of no help.
Initial Intake: Oct. 2007
CC: Ear infection
(Patient): I noticed on Friday that the right side felt sore when I swallowed. I heard water swishing around in there. It got worse; it woke me up Friday night, so I went to Urgent Care in the morning. They put in an ear wick, gave me drops and antibiotics, but it didn’t help. I was referred to an EENT. My ear canal was so swollen that initially he couldn’t even get the otoscope in. Both my bottom and top teeth are aching. I have chronic sinus infections, but I don’t think this is a sinus infection. I have had psoriasis since birth and it is in my ears.
Past History?I’ve always liked my extra weight. I have felt safe and solid. The past couple of months, it feels like it’s not me. It feels like I’m carrying around a foreign entity.
I’ve always struggled with feeling important or like I was always the expendable one; that there aren’t enough resources and I’m going to have to suck it up and work harder to get my needs met. If I make a mistake, then I’m not going to have my needs met. This year, someone complained about an e-mail that I sent at work. It was no big deal, but I couldn’t believe how much it upset me. It felt like everything that I had worked for was all so precarious and I was going to get fired. Today it happened again. I went to have my blood drawn and I got there early. Someone else got there after me but got called before I did. They had trouble drawing her and then I was 25 minutes late getting called.
More? At our staff meeting today, my boss was saying that when the phone rings, we should answer it. She was directing herself to other people in the room, but I felt that she was speaking to me and telling me that I’m letting phone calls get through and we’re losing clients because of it. I used to get scared or quiet or apologetic, and now I get belligerent. I say things like, “I’m not going to be tied to the phone.” I heard what she was saying with my rational mind and felt like, “Bring it on.” I don’t want to fight fair, I don’t want to use my words. I know that I may need to stand up for myself and protect myself occasionally, but I don’t need to be a rabid dog. I feel like no one can accept my angry feelings even though they say they can. I have to process angry feelings quietly, but everyone else can do whatever they want. There is a part of me that wants to be crazy because I’ve always had to be so reasonable. My brother is crazy, my father was crazy. I want to be completely irrational and overreact and storm around. I’ve felt that I was sick, immoral and worth less than other people.
Depression? Felt like despair, like no matter what I did someone or something was going to keep me down. I felt like no matter what I did, God was turning his back and not listening. I felt like there was a vendetta against me – I was being targeted.
Physical sensations of depression? Incredible fatigue. I felt like I was walking through molasses, headaches with tightness in neck and shoulders. Heaviness in chest. I remember sighing a lot, like I was carrying around something heavy. I used to punch myself and scratch myself in high school and college. I would have to get treatment because cuts would get infected, and they eventually sent me to counseling.
Anxiety? I’ve always had terrible insomnia and agoraphobia. I just wanted to stay in my house.
Physicals? My scalp has been inflamed for months and I have lost quite a bit of hair. It started right after one of my dear friends died. I found my hair in the shower, on my pillow and on the bathroom floor. One day, I noticed a bald patch and then the burning started.
Burning? Scalp, legs, chest; you can see hives on my face and my neck. There would be all these little red bumps on my legs and it felt like someone had dipped my legs in acid. My legs would swell and they would be bright red. On legs and chest, it burns and feels hot when I put my hand there. Initially, I felt suicidal about it. I felt like I had been abandoned by God. I’ve always had my looks. I’ve taken them for granted. Even if I’m fat, I can change that. Losing my hair would be out of my control.
Insomnia? I start to fall asleep and then jerk awake. I wake up every hour and am wide awake. I fall into my deepest sleep right before I have to get up. I can wake up and have repetitive thoughts or a song that seems intrusive in my head. If I’m waking up every hour, I’m usually fixated on one thing and I wake up thinking about it.
Dreams? Recurring dreams about being in the house and a murderer trying to get in and nobody would believe me. He would kill me and it would be very graphic and I would feel all the pain of being murdered. I have other dreams of finding mutilated animals/babies and trying to nurse them. Two weeks ago, I dreamed that a helpless dog was mauled and killed in front of me by a big, vicious dog that I thought I could control. It was so graphic, I screamed in the dream because I was so horrified. I woke up. The next night, I dreamed that a man on my bed was going to rape me. I woke up screaming. I ended up putting my foot through the window. There was a big piece of broken glass on my bed when I woke up.
Animals? Something about spiders and their webs – they creep me out.
Senses? My sense of smell and sense of hearing are very sensitive.
Nervous habits? I pick my nails and bite them. I used to constantly have my fingers in my mouth and [would bite] them down past where it hurts.
Menses? There would be clotting and cramping so bad that I’d be home from school with aspirin and a heating pad. Then it straightened out. My menses is predictable except if I’m under stress, then it doesn’t come at all. If I had exams during college, my period wouldn’t come at all. Last year, I went to the ER because I had hemorrhaging. I had had fibroids apparently, and there was a lot of blood because they came out.
Tastes? Definitely salty. I could give up cookies for the rest of my life if I could have potato chips.
Other discharges? There was a period of time where I’d wake up during the night and vomit. I thought it was stress.
Several themes made me think that this was a snake of some kind. Although there are distinct differences between the snakes, in general they tend to have some kind of hemorrhaging – perhaps epistaxis, very heavy periods or some other kind of dysfunctional bleeding. They tend to be intolerant of any kind of tight clothing, they can be jealous and suspicious and they tend be vain. If they don’t talk about their looks directly, they may have dreams that they are losing their looks. It’s common for them to talk about dreams of their teeth falling out. Snakes also tend to feel persecuted in some way. If they don’t tell you about it directly, they may talk about having dreams where someone is trying to break in or they may dream of being attacked, raped or beaten.
Plan: Crotalus cascavella 30c (Brazilian rattlesnake). One dose in AM, one dose in PM.
Follow-Up: Dec. 2007
- Ear infection cleared shortly after doses.
- I feel noticeably less irritable. Now when I am irritable, I have distance from it. I can choose whether or not I participate. It’s just an echo of what it used to be.
- I feel less stressed about my hair and I feel less self-conscious about it. I can choose to look in the mirror instead of obsessively looking in the mirror.
- I also feel more genuinely friendly – I don’t feel so much like “Don’t bother me.” I can hang out and chat with people instead of it feeling like an obligation. There seem to be more people that I like and I don’t think that they have changed.
- Definitely less generalized anxiety.
- Still perseverating on something someone did but I didn’t want to ruin my morning, so I decided to stop thinking about it. I have more distance.
- Intense burning and itching isn’t there on scalp. My scalp doesn’t hurt when I run my fingers through hair.
- I haven’t had the burning on legs.
- Hives on my face are significantly better. I have one hive today, but no bad outbreaks since remedy.
- I have been praying more. That’s not something I was willing to do before. I am possibly more interested in becoming closer with God because I seem to be more available in general.
- I have had several days of feeling that everything is okay. I have been singing out loud more. People have been commenting that I am more chipper and in a good mood.
- Last year, I had a rash on my hips. It went away. It has come back, but not as bad. Now it’s only on my hips; last year it was on my hips, stomach, back and butt.
- Psoriasis is better on scalp. Still there, but not scaling.
Assessment:Everything seemed to be getting better. I felt like we were on the right track.
Plan: Watch and wait. No more dosing for now.
Over the next five months, the patient continued to have improvements in her mental and emotional state, but the rash on her hips got worse and expanded to her buttocks. It was very painful and pruritic. I first put her on a daily dose of Crot-c Q1 with only minor improvement and then switched to a single dose of Crot-c Q3. There was some improvement, but not enough and we switched to a Q5. The rash faded even more, but continued to hang on. I didn’t see the patient for a while. She reemerged a couple months later, interested in using the remedy for weight loss.
As a sidebar, homeopathy can be very helpful for weight loss. For some, once a correct prescription is received, many of the issues that held the patient back from losing weight begin to drop away and weight loss becomes essentially effortless – a byproduct of the overall healing. For some, extra attention may be needed to contend with weight loss; more frequent dosing may be needed, and emotional support should always be encouraged. In any case, in monitoring whether the remedy is actually working for the weight loss, it is extremely important to set up precise benchmarks for changes in behaviors contributing to weight gain. People take on weight for different reasons, and it is important to find out what those reasons are. Weight loss can also take a long time and it can be a while before there is a significant amount of weight loss. If the patient’s eating triggers and feelings about their weight were improving, then I would know we were on the right track. If not, it would call the prescription into question. In this case, I wanted to know her specific triggers for eating; whether she craved junk food; daily feelings that caused her to overeat, such as anxiety, anger or shame; if she had any fear around losing weight; if she was a binge eater; how she felt about exercise; and if she did exercise, did she ever see any weight changes related to it.
Once we knew what behaviors to monitor, we were ready to begin. In addition to answering my questions, the patient had this to say about herself: “There is a part of me that feels like if I lost weight, I’d be giving in to what other people want or what society wants. There is a part of me that really enjoys standing next to a woman at a buffet who is just getting a salad and piling my plate high with whatever I want. It’s like I’m saying, ‘Yes, I’m fat and I’m really going to eat all of this.’ I’m worried about losing weight because then people will notice and comment on it. It’s condescending the way that they talk about it: ‘Oh good, you’re having a salad – good for you.’ ”
Plan: Test dose of liquid Crot-c 30c. She would take a single dose and then call me 4 days later to check in. At the check-in, I wanted to know if there were improvements and what they were, if there was any initial aggravation, length of time before improvements were noticed, and how long the improvements lasted. Knowing these things would allow me to set up a regular dosing schedule.
Follow-Up: Aug. 2008
(Patient): I took 1 drop of medicine. I feel this calm detachment. I had no problem putting food down. There was a lot of food left on my plate at dinner and I wasn’t anxious about it. I didn’t have dessert even though it was my birthday celebration – I didn’t feel like I needed to have dessert, so I didn’t have any. I brought the leftovers on my plate home for lunch tomorrow. I wasn’t shoveling in food, I was just eating slowly.
Assessment: This sounded like a great start. The improvements had been clear to her within a few hours and were holding. There was no aggravation.
Plan: Watch and wait.
Over the next 4 to 6 weeks, the patient noticed that she had a marked increase in desire to stop eating when full and about an 80% ability to follow through with that. She could stop eating when she was full and eat a normal portion, but the food she was choosing to eat was not very healthy. There was improvement in all of her triggers around eating, but her inability to make healthier choices concerned me. It had been long enough that I felt that the remedy needed to be bumped up a few notches.
Plan: Crot-c Q3, 4 gtt qd.
Follow-Up: Nov. 2008
- My anxiety about my living situation is gone; I see the woods as friendly now. They are my woods, my pretty woods. (She had moved to an apartment on the edge of the woods and she has always had a fear of forests.)
- I want to feed myself with better food, not crap. I’m not indulging so much in junk food anymore. I don’t want it.
- I took a walk with a friend today. I’ve been going to [a chain fitness and weight-loss facility] three times a week and I want to go more.
- I don’t weigh myself, but I noticed today that the pants and shirt that I had on were too big.
- The rash wants to start, but it can’t break through. I have a little bit on my backside and hips. It’s a little itchy, but not full blown.
- Hair – starting to come in. That’s better.
- Hives on legs – gone.
- Hives on face – I have them right now, but this is the first time since I can’t remember. They’re the same as they used to be.
Assessment:She seemed to be doing great on this remedy and dosage. She had some worry about the rash, but felt it wasn’t as important as the overall picture. I considered going to a Q4 to knock out the rash, but after discussing it with her, decided to give her body some time to reorganize itself, figuring the rash may come and go for a while until things settled down.
Plan: Continue with daily dose of Q3, 4 gtt SL.
Follow-Up: Jan.-Feb. 2009
In January 2009, the patient let me know that the remedy had continued to change her perceptions about food and her willingness to make changes. Her hives/rash, however, had come back and they were worse than ever – itching and burning. By the time we spoke, the itching and burning had subsided and the rash was beginning to clear, although there were still some lesions.
Assessment:Because the rash was improving and all the other improvements were still holding, I didn’t feel we needed to change the dosing, although I did ask her to check in with me after two weeks. I also let her know that if at any time any of her symptoms – including the rash – began to get worse, to let me know right away.
In February, she let me know that the rash was back with a vengeance. Everything else was fine.
Plan: Stop daily Q3 dosing. Watch and wait.
Overall, this patient has done very well on Crot-c. She has enjoyed deep healing of her depression, anxiety and insomnia. Although it is early in the case to report much about the weight loss, she has begun to have some relief around her issues with food and she has begun to lose weight. I did not take a baseline weight for her and I did not ask her to weigh herself to check her progress. Practitioners have varying feelings about this. It would be fantastic to have hard numbers to check progress, but for many patients, weighing themselves is anxiety producing, and I didn’t see the need to ask her to do something that might make her feel uncomfortable. She measures her success with how her clothes feel.
A curious component of this case was the rash. It would come and hang around for several weeks or months and then disappear, followed by a mysterious reappearance a few weeks or months later, sometimes related to a dose change and sometimes not. Even at this last report, she stopped the daily dosing and the rash got better, but still hung on. The mental symptoms were most important to the patient, and those have improved dramatically. Treatment for weight loss and skin rash are ongoing.
General Themes of Crotalus cascavella:
- Feel unappreciated and neglected
- Can be haughty
- Tend to be emotionally volatile
- Feel forsaken/abandoned
- Tend to have respiratory complaints
- Tend to have relationships where partners may cheat or there are dramatic fights and quarrels
- Tend to pity themselves
- Have a fear of spiders
- May talk about themselves or their symptoms in a very dramatic way – feeling that their head is going to “blow up” or a “headache that is so bad they feel like their eyes are going to pop out and shoot across the room.”
- Tend to be enamored with the “dark side”; they may talk about being clairvoyant, having visions or hearing things – this is usually associated with the dark side somehow
- Can be hysterical in that they may give you symptoms that are caused by things that don’t make sense; i.e., if they walk into a room that has just been painted they get tremendous pain in their joints.
Michele Deisering, ND is a graduate of NCNM. Her practice, Solas Clinic, is located in Portland. She specializes in the homeopathic treatment of mental and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder and PTSD, as well as conditions such as PMS, PMDD and chronic headaches.