Case Study: Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Joseph Kellerstein, DC, ND
Walter is a 43-year-old handyman. His wife, Lorraine, had been a patient of mine for some time. Lorraine is very intuitive and enthusiastically supports naturopathic medicine, and was ultimately successful in getting Walter through my front door.
Walter is 6’2” tall, with black hair and a full beard. I misinterpreted an initial shyness as being a kind of predetermined dislike of me. In fact, he turned out to be very warm, easygoing and a pleasure to speak with.
Glancing downward at the intake form I saw the chief complaint to be panic attacks and anxiety of some ten years duration. I also noted a history of asthma and allergy.
It seems that less than two years after a divorce there was the sudden experience as if someone had injected adrenaline into him. His chest was pounding to the point of explosion. He was overcome by the potential embarrassment of losing it right there in public, but once having understood the problem as being panic it seemed easier to cope with.
“It’s always at the full moon that I am more susceptible,” Walter said. Now that, to me, is truly an amazing observation. Right now I don’t know where my keys are.
“I do seem to get stressed easily,” he continued. “After a long day at work and taking crap from customers, then I get home and there are thousands of questions and dinner can be a real hassle.
“I never explode. My dad would. He was very strict. I take time out. Yelling at the kids is not me. People say I have a scowl. I do get upset … don’t want to be angry. The time between 4:45 and 6:30 p.m. is a major stress zone.”
Yet he thrives on work stress. As a senior trades person, he looks after several hundred customers and is always studying and trying to better himself.
He has memories of his father being upset – not speaking for three weeks after calling him stupid.
Regarding the asthma: He has been taking shots for two years. There is an allergic response to freshly cut grass. The lungs feel tight on a cold morning, early on in a damp basement and with dogs. In childhood, there was a recurring tonsillitis until he was four years old, when his tonsils were removed.
There are several vivid and unpleasant memories of childhood: “Mom pushed me against the wall and took a chunk out of it.”
Horror movies are not something he can watch, and certainly not any movie where something happens to a child.
Walter is sensitive to loss of sleep. Six hours is a requirement; anything less results in irritability and an increased chance of panic. Interestingly, regarding his daily energy he gets a second wind around 9 p.m.
Temperature-wise, our patient loves the heat of the sun. In bed he will often stick his feet out. He will not admit to being chilly or warm, and further questioning produced equivocal answers.
Walter has an unexplainable fear of knives. He hates the idea of being stabbed or potentially hurting someone with a knife so much that he refuses to own any knives.
I did not feel especially clear. Nux is strongly suggested by the rep chart, but it did not sit well. Walter was not especially chilly. I hypnotically obeyed the monster graph of my own creation. It did not work.
So, I went back to the drawing board. This knife thing is interesting. Perhaps he fears the impulse to stab? That tends to Alumina, but I had no mental confirmation of dullness. No constipation with soft stool. But wow, what a peculiar symptom. OK, so I ignored the lack of confirmation by the totality and went for the strange-rare-peculiar (SRP) angle. Missed again.
Round 3. I recall Boenninghausen saying that time modalities are very important in the genius of the case. If we look at both the aggravation at 5 p.m. and the second wind at 9 p.m., it seems more like the case. Then, there’s the definite aggravation at the full moon. We have Pulsatilla and Lycopodium at the lead. Our patient is very sun tolerant, so it doesn’t look good for Puls. The family history of a strict and highly critical parental experience seems to confirm Lyc, but there has been no aggravation from loss of sleep since taking the Nux.
However I checked a different rubric for the knife issue – the impulse to kill with a knife:
MIND; KILL, desire to; knife; with a (SI-684) (Anger; tendency; stabbed) (Impulse; stab, to) (12): alum, ars, chin.Knr, der.MoBF, hep.Knr, hyos.GalP, Lyc.GalP, lyss.Bng, merc.Knr, nux-v.Knr, plat., stram.Knr.
So despite the absence in one rubric, Lyc was a solid fit for much of the case and the family history.
I decided to be wrong quickly, so I gave one dose of Lyc 10M.
The report was that the anxious feelings had vanished within 15 minutes.
The remedy has been repeated successfully about every two months for the last two years.
Joe Kellerstein, DC, ND graduated as a chiropractor in 1980 and as an ND in 1984. He graduated with a specialty in homeopathy from the Canadian Academy for Homeopathy, and subsequently lectured there for two years. He also lectured in homeopathy for several years at CCNM; for eight years at the Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine; and for two years at the British Institute for Homeopathy. Dr. Kellerstein’s mission is the exploration of natural medicine in a holistic context, especially homeopathy and facilitating the experience of healing in clients.