What is Anxiety?
The word anxiety is used a lot these days. I see it a lot online with people referring to 'their' anxiety as if it's a barrier to living a normal life. And that is exactly what it is.
The dictionary definition of anxiety is a state of apprehensive nervousness or uneasiness. I think if you asked anyone who suffers from anxiety if that's how they'd describe it, the majority of them would (nervously) laugh in your face.
Anxiety can take a few different forms:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder - this is anxiety characterized by chronic or exaggerated worry and tension, when there is likely nothing to induce it
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - this is anxiety where there are unwanted obsessive thoughts and/or repetitive behaviours. These are often things like hand washing, counting, checking or cleaning.
Panic Disorder - this is an anxiety disorder where there are unexpected and repeatedly episodes of intense fear what may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - this type of anxiety can develop after having lived through a terrifying event, such as violent assault, human caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
Social Anxiety Disorder - where there is overwhelming anxiety and self consciousness in what most experience as everyday social situations. In its most severe form it can be triggered by just being around other people.
Is there difference between Anxiety and Depression?
A lot of the time the two go hand in hand, but they are two very different illnesses. I have had a lot of experience with depression, both around me in my private life and in my practice. And in my experience, depression can come about due to anxiety and be a secondary (and extremely debilitating) symptom, but people can be depressed, but do not suffer from any kind of anxiety disorder.
Depression takes many forms and I wouldn't dare begin to put it in a neat little box. And I will deal with depression and its treatment in a separate post.
Why do people suffer from Anxiety?
The range of reasons why people start to suffer from anxiety are as broad and individual as humans are. But the beginning and core of the disorder can usually be traced back to a traumatic experience that was suffered by the person. That may have been in childhood, teenage years, adulthood, or last week and they may not even realize it was the cause.
My homeopathic approach is not to make the patient relive their traumatic experience. That is something we leave for the psychotherapists. My aim is to find out how you experience your anxiety and how you felt at the time it was triggered, and then treat you individually.
We've all heard the saying, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", which for some people might be correct. But for a growing majority who know that's it's not always right to just grin and bare it, enduring trauma and pushing it down can cause extraordinary reactions in later life.
So what is the usual approach for treating anxiety?
Unfortunately, we live within a system of medicine that still puts mental health low down on the scale of importance.
The usual treatment for anxiety disorders is to medicate the person so they don't feel their anxiety. And a lot of these medicines remove the ability to feel completely. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for medication and in the case of something like bi-polar disorder, medication can be extremely useful for bringing the person back to an even keel in order to start better treatment for them. But medicating anxiety does not get rid of the anxiety, it merely suppresses it. So it's ready to jump out of the box as soon as the medication stops.
How do we treat Anxiety with Homeopathy?
As I previously mentioned, in homeopathy we aim to get back to the core of when the anxiety started. That means not reliving the trauma, but just identifying what was going on around the time that it started. Quite a lot of patients have never made the association
between the beginning of the symptoms and what was occurring at the time. And as you help them make the association, you can see the therapeutic process begin.
As we start to unfold the patients story, I can build a picture of the individual. And it's that picture that goes towards choosing a suitable remedy.
The remedies that are suitable for treating anxiety are varied. Depending entirely on the person and how they experience their anxiety.
However, the are 5 main ones that I've found are helpful time and time again:
Arsenicum Album - this remedy is very helpful for people when their anxiety includes gastric symptoms and when there have obsessive-compulsive characteristics. The person tends to be very neat, tidy and fastidious. The person may feel that they have an undiscovered illness and they are filled with apprehension and dread.
Ignatia - this remedy is used following the shock of grief but can be great for anxiety when the symptoms are very up and down. There can be a lot of crying and intense emotion, followed quickly by calm. They may have a feeling of having a ball stuck in the throat and poor sleep.
Natrum muriaticum - this is also a very good grief remedy, but is useful for anxiety that is bottled up and shoved down. With these patients it seems as if there is a wall between them and the rest of the world. They feel worse for sympathy, but tend to be very empathetic themselves. The worry that they will upset other people by saying the wrong thing. They're the 'salt of the earth' types who have a sense of duty, but often are overwhelmed. The just get on with it types. This is very deep acting remedy so careful consideration needs to be taken as to the potency required
Sepia - this remedy is excellent when all energy has been drained. It's often used as a woman's remedy but can be used for men also. The person may be sad, silent and solitary, who lack the zest for life. They are often on the verge of tears, but feel they have to keep their feelings under control, otherwise they'd scream. They want to keep busy, but just can't find the energy. They usually feel quite chilly and feel ravenous hunger, but feel nausea around food. In women there is a sinking or drawing feeling in the reproductive area.
Phosphorus - I've found this remedy to be useful for people who tend most of the time to be the centre of attention, but who retreat into anxiety at home because their flame has just burnt out and they don't know what to do. They are drained by other people's energies. I've also found these patients to be quite fastidious also, but not to the micro-organizational point that Arnsenicum patients are.
Anxiety can be a frightening and debilitating experience and it can come out of nowhere. But you do not have to suffer. There are many therapies that help with anxiety and homeopathy has been shown to be particularly good.