Depression is a catch-all phrase for a huge variety of mental and emotional states that afflict most of us from time to time. It is important to distinguish between conditions of more serious depression that compromise daily functioning and occasional bouts of depression due to a variety of life's factors.

Sometimes it is OK to be depressed and it may be a natural reaction to certain circumstances. However if it does not go away in time or becomes progressively worse, then help should be sought.

There is a great tendency today in medicine to reduce depression and other emotional conditions to bio-chemical imbalances in the brain, the only recourse being anti-depressants. This "reductionistic" analysis tends not to do justice to the complexity of human emotions and does not seek to look for more fundamental underlying causes of the depression. Homeopathy approaches this from the opposite position. A homeopath will want to know all about the depression, what it feels like, how long it has been there, how does it affect the person's functioning, what was happening when it came on etc. As the saying goes, homeopathy treats the person, not the disease.

Depression, like many other diseases, is a coping mechanism, adopted to deal with things that a person finds difficult to handle. Sometimes a person is very aware of what is going on and sometimes is not. In the latter cases, psychotherapy can be useful to gain a wider understanding of what is happening.

Given that homeopathy involves giving small doses of natural substances to people, in the form of pills, it is an extraordinarily effective therapy for many forms of depression. Homeopathy is working on the level of energy or consciousness/memory, the intangible quality of life that emanates throughout the world and that exists in all of us as the accumulation of all our experiences in the world, directly and indirectly. Each of us has our own story, one that affects us in all ways, that determines our personality and character and that influences how we perceive ourselves and our role in the world. We all have struggles, these struggles often the grist for our own evolution, but sometimes these struggles are too much and depression is the result. Homeopathy seeks to find a way to optimize a person's potential, to help release the accumulations of memories, pain and conditioning from the past, allowing the person to express themselves in a more liberated way. As mentioned, we all have baggage and conditioning that affects our perception and therefore our reality. All therapy worth it's salt seeks liberation from this conditioning, so the soul of a person can express itself fully. Depression is often a reflection of the difficulties of this challenge, but all people are seeking to be liberated of this, however ambiguously they may be approaching it. Even though the mind and heart may not seem to want to move, the deeper heart and soul does desire liberation from suffering.

As the correct homeopathic remedy takes effect, the change that a patient experiences may be very profound and also very subtle. As it is difficult to see ourselves at the best of times, the changes a remedy can make are often perceived by others first, and only by ourselves later. Often changes are perceived first in dreams, and then later in conscious expressions. Change sometimes seems to occur synchronistically, events happening in a person's life that just seem to be a coincidence or that they could not have had any direct influence over, but which happen nonetheless. This level of reaction to a remedy is fascinating and gives clear proof of the reality of a consciousness or vibration that exists beyond our current knowledge of physical reality and that also shows how things are connected in much more subtle ways than we can understand.

Each homeopathic remedy has a unique energy and even though each one originates from nature in the form of plant, animal or mineral, it has its own consciousness which can be connected to and related to human consciousness and experience.

As ALL things are connected, the homeopath often looks at the broader experience of a person as a means to understand them. Aspect of a person's family history may be important, including the relationship of father and mother, personal issues of the parents and the patients' history with them and with siblings, as well as any issues going all the way back to birth and pregnancy. As we all carry with us the memories of our whole lives, this includes the time of pregnancy, so events going that far back can be significant, as can what occurred even in previous generations. Other cultures pay much more attention to their ancestral history and this can be important in understanding a person's story, not just individually but also within the context of a nation, race or tribe.

Homeopathy seeks to achieve a greater awareness and integration of a person's story so that as a result a person will know themselves better and be able to express themselves in life in a more complete way. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, but it is important to know what these may be, in other words to know what makes us tick. When the word integration is used, it is a way of acknowledging what is, of being able to face the reality of who we are. The polarity of the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves has been explored now for nearly a century since Freud first conceived of these parts of ourselves. Whilst it can be said that we can never know ourselves fully, the unconscious qualities always remaining somewhat unknown, we do know when we are not facing things by what is happening in our lives, in our consciousness, in time and space. If something is not being resolved, sooner or later, it will leap up and face us. This does not mean we all have to rush off to a Freudian analyst and lie on a couch for months, years or decades, but just to open our eyes and see what is going on.

Once we have more awareness of our issues we can decide what to do about them. Although the many types of therapy can be very useful in helping us open our eyes and giving us a perspective, it can often leave a person in the lurch, without the tools to really move beyond their situation. It can even compound it by revisiting it endlessly, like stirring up the muck at the bottom of the pond, never giving a chance for the water to clear. At other times though, therapy can be vital in helping a person move through a difficult period, and helps individuals gain perspective over their situation. However, one always has to be aware of when a level of dependency can take place and the tendency to perpetuate treatment beyond the point of necessity.

Homeopathy can often work well in conjunction with therapy as it can directly address an issue on the level of consciousness. It can actually allow the negative impact of whatever experience, memory or conditioning may be there to be erased, similar to erasing a sentence on a computer. Once it is erased, it is gone, as if it never existed. This can be the experience after a remedy, if a person is ready to change now. Sometimes it takes much longer for this reality to take effect but that is the goal. Often, we are affected by one idea of ourselves - one concept or identity - through which we look at the whole world. It could be that "I feel worthless", "I feel I am not visible", "I will never succeed", "I am better than others", etc. It doesn't matter really what it is, but it affects our lives. Homeopathy seeks to understand a person in all their complexity and to understand what it is that is limiting them. As homeopathy works by using remedies that reflect back to the person what is going on within the consciousness of the body, a remedy actually has the effect of magnifying the actual condition someone is experiencing. It highlights the reality and in so doing encourages the body's own healing power to become activated. When dealing with emotional conditions, this magnification process encourages the integration of the person's situation. It can even lead to what is called a "healing crisis" as the reality of the situation sinks more deeply and a person becomes more of who they are and what is going on. As a person moves through this healing crisis a greater awareness takes place and the person can come through this feeling much more complete then before. They feel able to make decisions and do the things that are more integral to who they are. Often it seems to just happen, and feels effortless. This is not to say it is easy to change. It seems at times extremely difficult to change, as if those fundamental aspects of us can never change. In a way, nothing does change, we are who we are, yet within that basic factor of our personality lies the potential for our lives and ultimately our happiness.

Any healing, including homeopathy, only seeks to help the person make the most of what they have and to help break through limitations. Also, although we are all reluctant to face our own dark side life has a way of showing us where we need to focus our attention. In looking at the whole person, homeopathy is able to understand therefore why someone may be feeling depressed. Instead of just looking for a way to suppress the depression through medications, the homeopath will attempt to find a remedy that allow the person to understand what has to be healed and gives the body the impetus to do it itself.

Understanding this holistic view of healing is no different than the way we see nature and our relationship to the earth is no different than to our bodies. If we deny what we our doing to it, what toxic chemicals or toxic emotions we are dumping, then sooner of later we will have to pay the price. Therefore, when looking at treating a persons' emotional state, including that of depression, we have to look at the whole person as unique and seek to understand the most core aspects of what this person tick and what needs to be done.

The explosion in the use of anti-depressants to treat depression is a controversial area. The new family of drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Luvox, termed SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have led to massive increases in prescriptions of these drugs. Initially these drugs seemed to work more effectively than older families of anti-depressants with books such as "Listening to Prozac" proclaiming extraordinary effects of these drugs. Whilst there definitely are some cases in which these medications help considerably, there is a whole other side to the use of these medications, well researched and documented in the books by Peter Breggin, such as "Talking Back to Prozac." Other families of drugs are now being increasingly used and which have potentially serious side effects. Before taking any of these medications, a patient should ask their doctor what contra-indications there are to their use and when they should be discontinued and ideally should seek non-drug options first. The use of drugs does not lead to freedom from emotional suffering, only the suppression of them. It is not a cure, but a band aid.

The problem stems from the fact that any chemical drug is manipulating the chemistry of the body, in this case the brain chemistry. It does not let the body and mind do the work for itself and therefore does not encourage real integration and cure. It obscures the emotional reality of a person and whilst there can be a case for this in the short term for some people or for a longer time for others who are seriously in need, it does not intrinsically change anything. It often fosters a dependency on the drug and cuts a person off from their true feelings. It can produce a kind of zombie like state in which a person is numb to themselves, not having to face who they are and what is happening in their lives. The increase in the use of these medications, even being increasingly encouraged by psychotherapists who find it can make their work easier, not to mention the attempt of drug companies to market and encourage their use in children, has now provoked serious questions about their use. America is the most medicated culture in the world, and the apparent need to take anti-depressants just to get by, to be normal in the world, brings up serious questions about how we are facing the challenges of our time.

Resources
Talking Back To Prozac