Homoeopathic Medicines for Emotional Stress
NCH President Bill Shevin opened the Saturday session of the Orlando conference with a presentation about emotional stress. Dr. Shevin reported that 50 to 75 percent of his patients are dealing with emotional stress in one form or another. He defined stress as stimuli which require adaptation, and we are all bombarded by such stimuli constantly. Stress is the result only if we are susceptible to the stimuli. Healthy people are more resistant to stress. When we are healthy, responses of minimal intensity can deal with stress effectively, and homoeopathy is a way to make people less susceptible to stress. Superficial treatment can alleviate symptoms, but won't lessen the person's susceptibility.
People who are very ill often have been emotionally wounded early in life and have been unable to deal with the hurt in an adaptive way. Energy has been contained in some way, either through suppression or denial, and illness is the result. Susceptibility and intensity are inversely related. If a child is very susceptible to the stress involved, it doesn't take much intensity to produce illness. The intensity of the stimulus may be so low that the patient may not even remember it.
Dr. Shevin also explained that the more ill a patient is, the more intense the symptoms will probably be. But when vitality gets very low, there is no energy to produce symptoms, and intensity drops. In such cases, symptoms may be completely absent.
The patient who experiences an acute stress might need a remedy that would otherwise never have been needed. The need for that remedy might remain for a long time, and that state may have to be treated, even though it's not the total case.
Acute stresses are those that are very sudden and very intense. When stress is repetitive it can be considered as chronic stress. Often, under such situations, the remedy that the patient has always needed becomes increasingly visible.
Dr. Shevin said that it is important to take the patient's case as it is presented at the moment, but also to try to understand the evolution of the case over time. The origin of emotional stress can be difficult to find. People sometimes respond to stress by completely suppressing the memory of it.
Dr. Shevin discussed some of the remedies used to treat emotional stress:
The symptoms are a result of sudden, intense stresses. Patients are very intense and can be very restless. They have very high energy. Aconite is not commonly found in chronic conditions.
The mental state is dull; the mind feels tired, bruised, and sore. Patients need it if they say they don't, or won't take it. There is weakness, lassitude, and slowness.
An important remedy, but not readily available in the US. It has weakness like Arnica, but is more sleepy and tired. Patients can suffer respiratory distress, and loud, laboured breathing. They may be mentally excited, and delusionary states are possible. It is a major remedy for chronic effects of fright and fear, but is also used for acute states. If the response to stress is sleep, think of Opium.
The patient has great weakness, tiredness, drowsiness, dullness, muscular involvement, and, possibly, a coarse tremor from the weakness. Diarrhoea occurs from weakness in the rectum. Patients are very susceptible to the stress of bad news, and suffer from stage fright.
The patients are agitated and restless. They are alert, cheerful, and happy, but can't sleep. They have an unusual degree of mental activity.
In chronic cases, the patients have unresolved anger. Women who need Chamomilla often have many menstrual problems.
The patients feel out of control and fear insanity. Orderliness and cleanliness make them feel that everything is in its place, and they are safe. The fastidiousness is not constant; disorder can accumulate, but then the person cleans until everything is perfect. They don't like to be alone. Weakness is a strong Arsenicurn characteristic. They are very restless, often going from place to place as though driven. They are worse after midnight, and are very susceptible to fear and fright.
Needed often by women, Nux is no longer considered a `male' remedy. The patients have a `hardness' to them. They have a lot of intensity but are not necessarily nasty or irritable, unless provoked. If emotional expression was suppressed in childhood, the resulting stress may come out as an intense skin rash. These patients are very susceptible to grief.
A remedy that is, in Dr. Shevin's view, probably overprescribed. These patients are sensitive to loss of love -- to rejection. They tend to withdraw and, in doing so, become reserved. Friends come to them with troubles because they are so sympathetic.
They will expose their vulnerability, will cry, only if they feel safe. They are very sensitive but have a hard side and can be irritable. They are sympathetic to `underdogs', and they are very conscientious. The child in a dysfunctional family often needs Nat. mur. They can harbour much bitterness about their life.
The patients can be sad, mournful and can moan and sigh. They are usually open with their feelings, but sometimes not, because they don t want to be a burden -- to risk alienating people. They have a softness, mildness, gentleness and sweetness. Their responses are usually muted.
A very commonly needed remedy. These patients are caretakers. They want everybody to be happy, will put their own needs aside. Sadness is on top, and anger underneath -- suppressed. In Aurum, anger is on top, with sadness underneath. Staphasagria patients often have been abused. They are not as bitter as Nat. mur. They are sometimes hypersexual.
Dr. Shevin views this as a common remedy. The patients are intense. They like to chop wood. They are sharp, incisive people. They can cut you to ribbons with a few well chosen words and are quick, sharp, and sarcastic. They are very sensitive to being restricted or being contained -- both physically and emotionally.
These patients have a fiat, low state. They don't exhibit emotion, or even seem to feel it. They appear indifferent. They are not dull mentally, but they lack energy to think. They have emotional weakness. (Gelsemium has physical weakness.)
These patients are physically tense and may have muscle spasms. The symptoms of Ignatia are contradictory and changeable -- nausea better from eating, or pain, worse from the slightest touch. The patient wants to be left alone. They have a withdrawn feeling. There is often great sighing.
British Homoeopathic Association (BHA).
By William Shevin