Homeopathy: An alternative treatment for depression?


As per the National Crime Records Bureau’s report, between 2004-2014, the number of suicides in India increased by a whopping 15.8% out of which 16,307 people from Maharashtra itself committed suicide, making it the highest number of suicides in the country. The days when depression was not even discussed and brushed off as nothing but a mere ‘state of mind’ are slowly coming to an end.
Depression has become increasingly common not only among adults, but also teenagers in the last few years. While depression is most commonly treated by psychiatrists with the help of anti-depressants, patients complain about adverse side-effects such as excessive drowsiness, weight gain, erectile dysfunction, and constipation. These are the 6 things about depression you should know about.
When it comes to alternative remedies for this crippling mental ailment, homeopathy is one of the options that some patients opt for over allopathic treatment. Homeopathy is an integrative medicine that is also used for depression and the classical homeopathy treatment is customized to each patient. Homeopathic medicines are individually selected according to a patient’s signs and symptoms and minimal doses are used.
A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2011 by the Oxford University Press found that such individualised homeopathic treatment was safe and also effective for patients suffering from moderate to severe depression [1].
In this study, 91 outpatients were included and one group was administered homeopathic medicines that were individually chosed for them. Twenty homeopathetic medicines were used to treat the 48 patients while the other group was given 20 mg of an anti-depressant called fluoxetine or Prozac for a period of eight weeks. Surprisingly, the doctors observed that there were no differences in how the patients from both the groups responded to the treatment at the end of eight weeks in terms of remission rates.
However, patients who were administered the anti-depressant did suffer from side-effects while the homeopathy group did not report any side-effects.
Is homeopathy a reliable option for treating depression?
Despite the promising results of the study conducted by the Brazilian doctors, many experts argue that there are not enough controlled studies of the use of homeopathic medicines in treating depressive disorders and their efficacy [2].
The Research Council for Complementary Medicine conducted a systematic review of research evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for the treatment of depression. The experts conducting the review found that out of all the studies that claim homeopathy is effective in treating depression, only two of them were controlled trials.
They concluded that ‘the effectiveness of homeopathy in depression is limited due to lack of clinical trials of high quality.’ They stated that further research is required which should include well-designed controlled studies with sufficient numbers of participants to determine whether homeopathy is an effective treatment option for depressive disorders or not.
If you’re considering to opt for homeopathy to deal with depression, make sure to have a lengthy discussion with your homeopath on what medicines will be used and potential side-effects, especially if you’re already using anti-depressants. Remember that you will have to be more patient with homeopathy as it takes longer to yield any results, if at all. These are the 9 things you should be aware of before visiting a homeopath.
[1] Adler UC, Paiva NMP, Cesar AT, et al. Homeopathic Individualized Q-Potencies versus Fluoxetine for Moderate to Severe Depression: Double-Blind, Randomized Non-Inferiority Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2011;2011:520182. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep114.
[2] Homeopathy. 2005 Jul;94(3):153-63. Homeopathy for depression: a systematic review of the research evidence. Pilkington K(1), Kirkwood G, Rampes H, Fisher P, Richardson J.
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