More than 6 percent of American teens use one or more psychiatric medications, such as anti-depressants or ADHD medications, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. The report is based on surveys conducted between 2005 and 2010. About 1.5 percent of teens reported having taken anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic medications. In June 2017 I received an email from a female college student:
“I’ve recently been prescribed Sertraline, an anti-anxiety pill, but haven’t started taking it yet as I’m reluctant to take pharmaceuticals and was hoping to get some help in the homeopathy department. I’ve tried, and currently use Gelsemium sempervirens occasionally, but that’s really all I’ve tried. If you could please help me with this, it would be much appreciated.”
We set up a video call, as it was not possible for her to see me in person.
“I was sexually assaulted five months ago,” she began, “and I’m still struggling from post-traumatic stress disorder. I was on an antidepressant at 14 but just stopped at 17. I had no withdrawal issues. I go to an art institute, so I’m an artist.
I don’t like…social situations are weird, confrontations are hard. I don’t like mindless tasks. My favorite things are doing my art, being active, swimming, tennis, yoga, meditation, reading, playing flute.
I got into art at 16; I’m 20 now. It’s recently become something that I do all day: painting and drawing, knitting and embroidering. My subject matter is floral subjects, houses. I like organic shapes, calming, that I can focus in on. I was struggling with concentration because of my situation.
I’m most interested in the peony. The petals are super complex; it has a massive flower. I love working on detail. I’ve lived in a lot of places; my father is in the military. My mom wears her heart on her sleeve—she’s very very emotional, a little dramatic. When she gets sick she overdramatizes; that’s happened my whole life. I’m currently in the process of mending my relationship with her. She likes to talk. I used to be open with her. I attempted suicide twice at 15 and 17. I feel I have no control. I used to self harm, scratch myself when anxious—symmetrical scratches in hidden places. Social situations stress me out, when I talk to people I overanalyze. I’m a receptionist. When my phone rings it takes 4 rings before I can pick up. I get fidgety, worry, overanalyze the exchange of words. I suffer from self consciousness.
I have gastroparesis, which makes me thinner from lack of assimilation. It’s awkward. I have bloating and gas, just feel too skinny. My parents have always told me I look anorexic. I don’t really know what people think of me. I wonder if people are judging me. In elementary school I was beat up frequently, considered a weird girl. I was always ahead of my class, good at reading and writing. I was outside. I tried to cover up what I was, felt sad a lot. I was extraverted, silly, but I just suppressed that.
I’m always hungry. I don’t eat breakfast, not hungry until 10am. Lunch is whatever I can get, leftovers. I go to the cafeteria and pick up a sandwich. My stomach will burn; I may throw up if I eat a big meal. Later in the day I have another sandwich. I live with my boyfriend, and we’ve started making meals together. Because of financial issues I eat whatever I can get. I can chug an entire bottle of water, but I’m not terribly thirsty. I prefer room temperature water.
If I’m having an issue with a friend I don’t come forth about it. I work myself up. If I have a confrontation with my mom she blows up a lot, screams, and it turns into a physical fight. She has hit me, called me names, thrown a glass of water. It scared me really bad.
Dad has been stressed out recently. He is logical, not emotional. I love animals. I have a cat and two kittens. I like dogs a lot. I had a dog for 15 years. I have one younger sister, 16. She’s my best friend. I have three close friends.
I had a babysitting business at 16 because I didn’t want to ask parents for everything. I have a phobia of clowns. I sleep in the dark, but pitch black scares me. I’m really scared of the idea of death. I’m not very religious. I have a fear of what happens. Since I was five, if I think about death I get nervous. I’ve been to a couple of funerals: grandfather, great aunt. They weirded me out, sad but scary. They will cycle in my brain. When my dog died I felt his last heartbeat.
I have seen a lot horror movies. I really like them. I played softball and was really competitive, an all-star. I really like mushrooms. I have painted a couple. I’m interested in learning about diseases. I’ve watched five eye surgeries. I’m interested in what cancer does to the body. My eyelids twitch.
I’ve been to ten cemeteries, took a lot of pictures. They’re soothing, kind of sad, peaceful, quiet, calming for me. There’s a weird connection between me and the dead. I knew some of the names, think about what their life was like.
I pass out when I have to have blood drawn.
I had nightmares as a kid. I was being cut up by a butcher alive. My dreams were very vivid. My favorite: I was in my grandparents’ house. I would leave the house and go into the woods, down the field into the forest. There were stairs built into the trail. I would go past a grandfather clock and a wall of moths, with a small waterfall emptying into a small pool. This lady lived there. I had fun playing around. I felt really at peace and whole, content. She was like a grandmother, my role model. I feel just calm, supported. She was a strong woman, loving and compassionate. I would talk to her. It was a lucid dream. There were big beautiful sun hats hanging there.
My digestive issues started at 15, after I started Lexapro. I got constipated, did not have a bowel movement for three and a half months. I had to take laxatives. I no longer have constipation; I started drinking coffee, three cups a day. I have cold hands and cold feet up to my knees; my shins are freezing. I had seizures after I took an anti-seizure medicine with gabapentin.
Psychological cases are often difficult to analyze homeopathically because the complaints are like will-o’-the-wisps, vague, nebulous and mutable. Initially it appeared that her anxiety might stem from the sexual assault incident, but it soon became clear that her problems started much earlier.
From a homeopathic perspective everything is connected to everything, but it is not humanly possible to understand the entire interlocking web. Fortunately, it is not necessary; nature is fractal, and the whole is contained in every detail.
The first detail that caught my attention was her tendency to “self-harm.” The following remedies are known for this symptom:
agar, alum, anac, androc, anh, ars, atrop, bapt, bar-br, bell, boron, calad, caust, chlol, choc, cimic, crot-t, cur, dict, hydr-ac, hyos, lac-h, lat-m, lith-c, lyss, mand med, nat-br, sol-n, STAPH, stram, syph, tarent, tub
A second detail that popped out was her fear of and fascination with death. This characteristic immediately brought to mind George Vithoulkas’ portrait of Agaricus. “Eventually they become preoccupied with thoughts of death and disease. They have a morbid interest in death, ghosts, tombs, graveyards, terminal diseases, cancer wards, etc.”
I then began to ask confirmatory questions. How did she feel about horror movies, mushrooms, diseases, blood work? Did she ever have tics or twitches? Cold extremities?
The answers all supported a prescription of Agaricus.
Rx Agaricus muscarius 1M (Hahnemann Labs), diluted in 2 drams of water, one dropperful per day, 7/7/17
Follow-up at two weeks:
I heard from a friend of the family that she was very happy with the results of the remedy. A few days later she sent me an email:
“Sorry this is so late. I completely forgot to send you an update on how I’m doing on the new medicine, but I wanted to let you know that I’m doing extremely well. It seems to be helping a lot, in a lot of ways including my intrusive thoughts, anxiety, digestion and even my acne! Thank you so much for all of your help, and for helping me find something that actually helps me.”
Follow-up three months (email):
“So, since I’ve started the remedy I definitely noticed that my intrusive thoughts have become a lot more manageable. For the first few days after taking it, my libido went up quite a bit, but it has definitely leveled out since then. I’ve been sleeping a bit better, as well as having fewer nightmares. As I have a stomach disease, I’ve noticed that going to the bathroom has gotten a little better, although it’s something that I still struggle with. Anxieties and obsessive thoughts are a lot easier to maintain, as well as worrying less. I would say it’s definitely helped me in a lot of areas, and is continuing to be an awesome aid in my life. Working on mental things through meditation, therapy and problem solving have seemed to become easier since starting.”
Follow-up nine months:
She asked for a refill of the remedy twice. She has done well since then without any medicine.