What is stress? It is any disturbance in life which makes an unusual demand on our physical, emotional or mental energy. What we describe as stress is the effect it has on our health and sense of well-being, and this varies according to the individual. We each have a unique response to stress in our lives, and each of us is potentially vulnerable to different stresses: what will cause one person to feel under pressure will not affect another in the same way.
Stress is very common of course. It has become the term of choice to describe the effects of our modern western lifestyle and environment, as well as a range of physical symptoms which may be seen as having a mental or emotional trigger. Homeopaths recognise that all the symptoms an individual has – mental, emotional and physical – are part of an interrelated response, and it is the person who needs treating, rather than the symptom. Fixing a symptom is to ignore its vital purpose. It is a call for help, a sign that there may be a source of stress in our lives which needs to be addressed. Viewed in this way, symptoms can be seen as protective, and even empowering, enabling us to learn about ourselves and make choices.
For the homeopath, good health is about more than merely an absence of disease, but involves a sense of well-being and balance in the whole person. It involves an ability to adapt and respond appropriately to the stresses and strains of everyday life, with the minimum of effort.
When treating someone with stress-related symptoms, I will ask about the way you experience your symptoms, and the particular stress or stresses which triggered or preceded the complaint.
The causes as well as the symptoms of stress will be different for everyone, ranging from physical triggers, such as the long term effects of an injury (eg a limb fracture or head injury), or a work-related repetitive strain injury, to emotional triggers, from relationship problems to problems at work, or bereavement. Symptoms can typically include anxiety and panic attacks, loss of concentration, insomnia, headaches, back pain, palpitations, IBS and stomach upsets, dizziness, lethargy and depression.
Homeopathy can heal the emotional, mental and physical symptoms of stress, and help you to recover your vitality and sense of well-being.
Below are just a few of the homeopathic medicines which can be used to treat the symptoms of stress. The homeopath will look at your whole state of health, physical mental and emotional, to select an individual prescription for you.
Argentum nitricum is a remedy which is often indicated in situations of mental strain, especially before exams, or public speaking. People needing this remedy tend to feel anxious and hurried, and their fears can get out of hand, leading to panic attacks. They dread ordeals such as exams, and may develop diarrhoea, or suffer palpitations or sore throats.
Ignatia is often needed in cases of emotional stress, from shock or bereavement. Under such emotional pressure they may have hysterical outbursts of anger or sobbing. Usually they keep their feelings in, with sighing, and feelings of constriction in their chest, often avoiding company.
Nux vomica is a remedy which can be useful for those who burn out from overwork. They tend to be ambitious, impatient and exacting, making high demands on themselves and others. They often turn to stimulants such as coffee to keep them going, and alcohol to help them relax. Symptoms will come on when they become worn out and tense from overwork, and might include stomach problems, insomnia, constipation and headaches.