Published in 'Homoeopathy for All - 2007'
Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. Most Bombay Serial Blasts evacuees will learn to move past their tragedy, but many will continue to experience storms of the mind.
Military combats, sexual abuse, divorce, bombings, fires, beatings- these experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, in which the sufferer relives the event over & over to devastating effect, sometimes many years after the fact. The WHO estimates that 20 percent of people exposed to a disaster show some kind of mild or moderate mental disorder soon after the event, with the number dropping to about 15 percent within a year, 3-4 percent will experience more severe problems.
PTSD has been an officially recognized illness since 1980 & it may be defined as the development of significant anxiety after exposure to extreme trauma, defined as an event associated with either actual or threatened death or injury to oneself or another. Individuals experience associated symptoms of detachment & loss of emotional responsivity. The patient may feel depersonalized and unable to recall specific aspects of the trauma, though typically it is re-experienced through intrusions in thoughts, dreams, or flashbacks, particularly when cues of the original event are present. Accordingly, patients often actively avoid stimuli that precipitate recollections of the trauma and demonstrate a resulting increase in vigilance, arousal and startle response.
Concept of Memory
When humans take in new information- whether it’s a phone number, or seeing someone killed- the memory is “labile” at first, or chemically unstable.
But at some point within the next six hours, a flood of proteins produced by the brain moves the memory from short-term to long-term imprint.
The brain’s wiring changes each time something goes into long-term memory, but not all memories are equal. “You remember the day of your wedding better than three Tuesdays ago when there was nothing important going on.”
Emotional memories activate a second process that ups their intensity. This is called a “gain switch”. With PTSD, this gain switch just gets turned way up after trauma. So now what happens is that people are just overwhelmed by their emotional memories.
Studies have shown that emotionally arousing events cause stress-related hormones such as adrenaline to be released by the brain’s amygdale, which is involved in emotional learning and memory. PTSD may develop when the event is so emotionally powerful, and so much adrenalin is released, that the “gain-switch” is set too high.
Then, each time the traumatic experience is recalled; the amygdale releases yet more hormones & intensifies the stressful memories even more.
People who have experienced or witnessed a trauma can suffer such fear, helplessness and horror that they’re crippled by nightmares, flashbacks, outbursts of anger and hyper-vigilance and arousal, and constantly on the lookout for danger. Some try not to think about it, or avoid anyone who reminds them of the trauma. They can become withdrawn & so emotionally & psychologically numb they no longer can feel love or other intense feelings the way they did before.
Healing from that kind of trauma may require long-term counseling along with well indicated constitutional homoeopathic remedy. It is important that patients be given time to describe their experience & the impact it has had on them, their family, and their outlook. Occasional empathic silence may be as helpful for the treatment alliance as verbal reassurance.
Rubrics worth considering:-
Kent’s Repertory (Mind)
1- Absorbed, buried in thoughts:
2- Anger, irascibility:
3- Anger, irascibility: Ailments after anger: Vexation etc.
4- Anger, irascibility: Ailments after anger: With anxiety:
5- Anger, irascibility: Ailments after anger: With Fright:
6- Anger, irascibility: Ailments after anger: With silent grief:
7- Anger, irascibility: Former vexations, about:
8- Anger, irascibility: Past events, about:
9- Antagonism with herself:
10- Anxiety: Chagrin, after:
11- Anxiety: Conscience, of (as if guilty of a crime)
12- Anxiety: Vexation after:
14- Complaining: Offenses, long past:
15- Death: Desires:
16- Death: Thoughts of:
17- Delirium: Blames himself for his folly:
18- Delirium: Sorrowful:
19- Delusions, imaginations, hallucinations, illusions: Accused, thinks she is:
20- Delusions, imaginations, hallucinations, illusions: Alone: That she is always:
21- Delusions, imaginations, hallucinations, illusions: Arrested, is about to be:
22- Delusions, imaginations, hallucinations, illusions: Friendless, that he is:
25- Dullness, sluggishness, difficulty of thinking and comprehending: Chagrin, from:
26- Dullness, sluggishness, difficulty of thinking and comprehending: Emotions, from:
27- Dullness, sluggishness, difficulty of thinking and comprehending: Mortification, after:
28- Dwells: On past disagreeable occurrences:
29- Dwells: Recalls old grievances:
30- Escape, attempts to:
31- Fear: Betrayed, being:
32- Forsaken feeling:
33- Frightened easily:
35- Grief: Ailments, from:
36- Grief: Ailments, from: Cannot cry:
37- Grief: Silent:
38- Helplessness, feeling of:
39- Honour, effects of wounded:
40- Indifference, apathy etc.
41- Lamenting, bemoaning, wailing etc.
42- Loathing: Life:
43- Love: Ailments, from disappointed:
44- Love: with silent grief:
45- Moaning, groaning
46- Mortification, ailments, after:
48- Sadness, mental depression:
49- Sadness, mental depression: Alone, when:
50- Sensitive, oversensitive:
52- Suicidal disposition: Thoughts:
53- Thoughts: Persistent:
54- Unfortunate, feels:
55- Unreal, everything seems:
56- Weary of life:
57- Weeping, tearful mood, etc.:
58- Weeping, tearful mood, etc.: Admonitions, cause:
59- Weeping, tearful mood, etc.: Mortification, after:
60- Weeping, tearful mood, etc.: Vexation, from:
Though Homoeopathy works on the Principle of Individualization i.e. the medicine can vary from person to person depending upon the onset, duration, progress, location, sensation, modalities & concomitant symptoms but there are number of remedies which we can label as stress or depressive remedies.
To name a few:-
1- Aurum Metallicum
It covers the classic situation in which one person dies after many years of a happy marriage, and the other partner dies within a few months. The surviving partner will say, “I lost the sunshine in my life,” meaning they lost all purpose in life. Aurum will also help senior citizens in nursing homes where loneliness and a lack of purpose often bring an “Aurum state” of emptiness and despair. Aurum also covers physical and emotional pain as well as the desire to commit suicide. They have a loathing of life and want to avoid other people, but they get revived when you convince them to go out for a little walk. They often have feelings of guilt (“maybe I should have been nicer, now that he or she is gone, I regret not telling him more that I loved him”). Another trigger for an Aurum state is financial loss, as in sudden stock market crash, many people lose all they had saved in just one day and they commits or attempts to commit suicide. Aurum can also help other family members affected by financial loss, for example a star student who can no longer afford to go to the prestigious college she always hoped and dreamed of.
2- Ignatia Amara
There is no better remedy to mend depression from a broken heart and betrayal, especially if it is still acute (fresh in the person’s mind). The Ignatia person reacts in her depression with sighing, sobbing and just sitting there immobilized, as if struck by a lightning. “Why me?” they ask in vain, left by a lover in whom they put all their emotional bank balance. “How could he do this to me?” They are very sensitive to the behavior of their lover, as if their very survival depends on that one person. An Ignatia person may also have psychosomatic symptoms such as sighing, choking, a stiff neck, and a globus hystericus . They often weep for help and attention.
3- Natrum Muriaticum
If there are too many heartbreaks, the person turns to silent grief, never crying except perhaps when alone listening to classical music. She doesn’t want to talk about her depression (except maybe with her very best friend). She feels worse when people try to console her because she just wants to be left alone. These people are easily offended, never forget what was done to them, and often dwell over the painful event, sometimes with great vindictiveness. Rather than committing suicide, they tend to crusade for a worthy cause as this improves their moods.
4- Phosphoric Acid
The person who needs it feels that her life is flat and all the sparkle has gone out of it. She is so depressed that she is indifferent to everything, even her own family, friends and activities she usually enjoys. She lies in bed with her face to the wall and the phone unplugged. She suffers from spaciness, a great loss of memory with difficulties finding the right word, drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night. This Phosphoric acid state is mainly found in teenagers who have homesickness (it’s absolutely the greatest remedy for these teenagers away from home for the first time), or in patients broken down from nerve strain after a longtime chronic illness like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The patient basically is worn-out, physically, mentally and emotionally. It can be from a particularly difficult pregnancy or from an arduous delivery. To the amazement of the family, the Sepia patient can be so depressed that she feels indifferent to her family, even her newborn baby. “Leave me alone,” they say, “I am utterly exhausted. I need a vacation, far away from the whole family, to be able to replenish my energy.” The poor Sepia patient has always been very dutiful but this attitude is precisely what brought her into a state of exhaustion and depression (“I’m having a nervous breakdown,” she may say). Now she feels that everyone wants a piece from her, her children, husband, and friends, and she can’t cope with the demands anymore. She may even say, “Shoot me because death must be better than this.”
The main idea characterizing Staphysagria is suppression of emotions, particularly those centering around romantic relationship. Staphysagria is often given acutely for the physical effects of suppressed anger. Staphysagria anger is often so well suppressed that it is not only unexpressed; it is not even felt. She is a person who feels her problems belong to her alone. She would never presume to be a burden to others. Imagines insults. Great indignation about the things done by others or by himself, grieves about the consequences. Believes he will lose his fortune, his wife will leave him. Ailments from reserved displeasure. Very sensitive to what others say about her.
Homoeopathy has many more great remedies for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder like Arsenicum Album, Causticum, Calc. Carb, Nitric Acid, Nux Vomica, Pulsatilla, Thuja etc. each for a different set of symptoms & a different causative factor. Do you see now that homoeopathy is far superior to any Western drug because it is tailored to the patient? So, if you are ever depressed, run to your homoeopathic physician with your kind of stress or depression and he will find your remedy for sure.
Dr. Navneet Bidani