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Homeopathy: A Healthier Way to Treat Depression?


The premise behind homeopathy is that symptoms of illness are not just something “wrong” with the person

but are actually efforts of their bodymind to fight infection and/or to adapt to stress.

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(originally published at the HuffingtonPost here)

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Depression lowers the spirits and drowns the eyes in sorrow, though tears aren’t the only reason why depressed people sometimes can’t see straight. Depression also caves in the chest, slumps the shoulders, and inhibits full breathing, usually forcing unhappy people to try to catch their breath by frequent sighing. It is sometimes said that depression brings you down to sighs (my apology to those readers who get depressed by bad puns).

On a much more serious note, depression can be a temporary passing experience or a deeply disturbing condition that may lead to suicide. Except in cases of minor depressive states, professional attention is generally recommended to help a person go through this emotional experience in a conscious manner.

The Real Dangers of Conventional Medical Treatment

Recent studies published in leading medical journals have seriously questioned the efficacy of conventional pharmaceutical treatment of people with mild or moderate depression.

In early 2010, major media reported on a significant review of research testing antidepressant medications.(1) What is unique about this review of research is that the researchers evaluated studies that were submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), though the researchers discovered that many studies submitted to the FDA were unpublished (they found that the unpublished research consistently showed negative results of antidepressants).

This meta-analysis of antidepressant medications found only modest benefits over placebo treatment in published research, but when unpublished trial data is included, the benefit falls below accepted criteria for clinical significance.

Perhaps most startling about this research is the fact the FDA only requires drug manufacturers to provide them with two positive studies on depression to attain FDA-approval status, even if these same drug companies submit many more studies with negative results. Such information forces consumers to question the efficacy of “FDA approved drugs,” and it explains why so many conventional medications eventually get withdrawn from marketplace.

At the same time that the above review research was published, another review of research was published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), and they found similar results, “The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo increases with severity of depression symptoms and may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms.”(2) These researchers did find benefits from the use of antidepressants in the treatment of severe depression, but because the majority of people taking antidepressants today do not have “severe depression,” it is prudent for many people with depression to talk to their doctors about safer and more effective alternatives.

Sadly (and strangely), when conventional doctors today do not obtain adequately effective results with one drug, they often simply prescribe more drugs in hopes that one of them, or their combination, will be more effective (whether this increased use of drugs is effective or not, there are certain “benefits” that drug companies receive from this strategy). However, increasing research is finding that “polypharmacy” (the use of multiple drugs concurrently) may lead to worse, not better, results. New research has shown that polypharmacy with psychotropic medications in suicidal adolescent inpatients has been linked to a significantly increased risk for early readmission.(3)

Presented at Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the researchers found that suicidal adolescent inpatients receiving three or more different classes of psychotropic medications had a 2.6-fold increased risk of being re-admitted within 30 days of discharge.

Cynthia A Fontanella, PhD, the lead researcher, asserted, “Our finding that polypharmacy was associated with an increased risk of readmission is concerning, although not surprising.” Even though the serious problems with polypharmacy are known and expected, polypharmacy is growing in mental health care, not decreasing.

Other researchers discovered a disturbing trend among the over 13,000 visits of outpatients with mental disorder diagnoses: the number of psychotropic medications prescribed increased in successive years. Visits in which two or more medications were prescribed increased from 42.6 percent in 1996-1997 to 59.8 percent in 2005-2006, and those in which at least 3 medications were prescribed virtually doubled from 16.9 percent to 33.2 percent.(4)

Why Mental Illness is Increasing

There are numerous theories for why the number of people suffering from mental illness is increasing and why it is afflicting people at younger and younger ages. The homeopathic analysis for this epidemic is unique and may provide additional insight as to why this is occurring.

Like most observers of health and medicine today, homeopaths do not believe that there is simply one reason for the increase in mental illness, though many homeopaths assert that iatrogenesis (doctor-induced disease) plays a much greater role than is commonly recognized.

Homeopaths, like modern-day physiologists, understand that symptoms of illness represent the body’s defenses in its efforts to adapt to and respond against infection, environmental assault, or stress of some kind. As discomf