Bipolar Disorder Story
John is a 20-year old male who came to see Dr. Janikula because he had been having problems with irritability. He would have 4-day periods of intense agitation and irritability and he could in no way be nice to anyone, including his family. He would wake up angry, quarrel with his wife and feel like she was doing something wrong to him. Occasionally he would dip into a bad depression and feel things were so bad that he would contemplate suicide. These depressive episodes frequently lasted for 2 weeks, during which he would hide under his covers and feel he could not face the world. He was very talented in his field, but in the last year had gone through many jobs because of conflicts. Most interestingly, he felt better whenever he was in the mountains hunting. This would alleviate his symptoms of both depression and his hypomania. In fact, he would spend all his time in the woods. He also had a very strong craving for smoked meats.
These symptoms are very clearly produced by a remedy call Tuberculinum. He was given a single dose of 10M and immediately slept 12 hours and his mood stabilized. He needs another dose every 5 days to keep his mood stable. If he misses a dose all the irritability returns. His wife stated, “John is the sweetest he has ever been in our 3 year relationship.”
John is lucky as he was diagnosed and treated early in the course of his disease. He will most likely need 1-2 more years of treatment until he is entirely better. He is off to a good start – homeopathic improvement is progressive.
Rapid Cycling Bipolar Story
Pete is 30 year old male who came to see Dr. Janikula with previously diagnosed rapid-cycling bipolar II. These patients are very difficult to treat because their mood can shift weekly. This is a typical one-month sketch of his treatment: Prior to seeing Dr. Janikula he had tried Lamictal, Depakote, Zoloft, and Lexapro, and had seen no benefit. He had had a poor reaction to Lamictal, and said the antidepressants made him worse. When he first came in to the office he was on 50 mg of Seroquel, which was greatly helping his sleep but he was suffering from wild moods. Dr. Janikula recommended bright light therapy in the morning and dark therapy in the evening. He also placed him on high-dose thyroid therapy, which further stabilized his mood. ?Following is a one-month depiction of his homeopathic management as Pete’s moods stabilized:
Sept 2nd: I feel depressed, lonely, and without hope. I have thought about suicide and the thought makes me feel much better. I spend time with my friends and feel more alone, so I just want to be by myself. Sometimes I get really irritable and everything and everyone annoys me. ?Dose: Aurum Metallicum 30C 3 pellets every day.
Sept 3rd: I feel much better, no suicidal thoughts and I like my friends again. I am having fun and actually love being alive.
Sept 8th: I think I am getting a little too high. Today I woke up and my mind was racing but it was not as fast as my body. I have been so busy all day and I cannot sit still. I think I have gotten 10 days of work done in 3 hours. Now I want to relax but I can’t. I have run, biked, and danced and I still have energy. ?Dose: Tarantula 200C 3 pellets every day.
Sept 9th: That dose worked fast. I relaxed and I even felt tired. Slept well and today I am more calm. I miss the productivity but I don’t miss the restlessness.
Sept 16th: Today I woke up depressed and I just don’t care about my work. I heard my brother is having a hard time and I don’t even care about him. I went for a run and it made me feel a little better. I am so fatigued that I needed a nap at 2 pm and feel really cold. ?Dose: Sepia 1M 3 pellets every day.
Sept 17th: Woke up feeling better today. Back to work with enthusiasm. Called my brother to check on him and actually cared. Nice feeling.
Sept 25th: Depressed again. Not as bad as last time but still feel hopeless. I have an occasional suicidal thought but it is not strong. I am slightly irritated with my friends again. ?Dose Aurum 200C 3 pellets everyday.
Sept 26th: Feel much better again. Not depressed and feel balanced.
You can see that the homeopathic management of these patients is challenging, but when managed for long periods of time each successive mood episode is less intense and the interval between becomes longer. It is essential to keep close contact between doctor and patient.
Peter (name changed), a 31 y/o male, was referred to our clinic by a colleague for help with moodiness, irritability, mental fatigue and difficulty thinking. Peter had never sought out conventional care and never had a formal diagnostic workup, but had consulted with other natural health practitioners. He was currently living with his mother and had been unemployed for the past 6 years. His worst symptom was irritability. Whenever Peter interacted with others he heard voices and misinterpreted their comments to mean something negative towards him. These misinterpretations and voices led Peter to become extremely angry with violent, homicidal thoughts. He had been in legal trouble once but would not comment on why. He was further angered by a constant feeling of being targeted and kept from having anything in his life. He had elaborate theories about who was targeting him and this contributed frequently to his anger.
Peter had obsessive behavior with strong fear of germs and contamination in food. He would wash all his grocery packaging on arriving home and was afraid it was contaminated or poisoned. He also had insomnia, long lasting nasal symptoms, frequent urination, and some digestive issues. His prior treatment was mildly effective, improving his energy and slightly his mood. He was not helped with voices or anger.
On taking Peter’s case, Dr. Janikula quickly diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He had a very optimistic prognosis for Peter and began homeopathic treatment. Peter was given Arsenicum album 30C once a day and had immediate results. At his 3 week follow up he was no longer getting irritated and had not misinterpreted any interactions. He still felt targeted but said it did not seem to emotionally bother him as much. His sleep, energy, and clarity of mind were all much improved.
Peter was treated for one year and need increasing potencies of Arsenicum album. By one year he was free from all symptoms both mentally and physically. He was discharged and advised to call if there were any troubles. Dr. Janikula has checked in with Peter in the past several years and he has had no recurrence of symptoms.
Cases like Peters show the power of homeopathy to quickly restore health in a permanent, gentle way.
Often the most challenging aspect of managing patients with schizophrenia is maintaining continued long-term care. On beginning treatment, the most ill patients have difficulty in making follow up visits, leaving the doctors at Fountainhead Clinic helpless to ensure continued improvement. A loving family member or friend is often the most important part of a team approach to keep appointments and update our doctors on changes in health and mental status. With a caring family member this obstacle is removed.
Dan is a 22-year-old male that came to Dr. Janikula seeking help for schizoaffective disorder. He had been on many anti-psychotics with limited success, and was facing a last resort medication, Clozaril, as his only option. He was hoping to avoid having to take the medication because in his opinion, his previous prescriptions had caused more harm than they had helped, and he was worried about what would happen to him if this medication also failed to help him. He had been in and out of hospitals for his condition, each stay longer than the last. He was starting to feel hopeless.
Dan’s symptoms began in high school with delusions of persecution and mood instability. They progressed to include visual and auditory hallucinations, the worst involving violence against his parents. He felt frightened most of the time, and had started to withdraw greatly from his life. He was no longer able to work or live on his own. His mood continued to fluctuate between periods of extreme depression and mania. His hallucinations remained, even when his mood felt stable. At times, the visions of violence, and the voices he was hearing telling him to hurt himself and others became so overwhelming that he would himself become violent out of an intense fear. A few times the police had to be called to the house because he was threatening his mother with a knife.
During the interview with Dan and his mother, Dr. Janikula discovered that Dan’s symptoms were always worse at night. He had a particularly strong fear of the dark and of being alone. Many nights he would awaken screaming at the top of his lungs, his mother would go into his room and observe him flailing his arms around, striking at imaginary objects, with a terrified expression on his face. She would go over to soothe him and he would grasp at her frantically, holding her tightly. They started leaving the light on, which seemed to help somewhat with his nighttime hallucinations. Dan also had a peculiar fear of and aversion to water. His mother could hardly convince him to shower once a week because he was so frightened of the running water. Dehydration was also a problem because he would frequently choke when trying to take a sip of water, which made him averse to drinking.
Based on Dan’s most individual, characteristic symptoms Dr. Janikula prescribed the homeopathic remedy Stramonium 200C.
After six months of treatment with a few adjustments to his homeopathic remedies, Dan is doing much better. His mood has remained relatively stable with only one mild episode of depression, which was quickly corrected, and no manias. His visual hallucinations have decreased incrementally over the past few months and he has not experienced any in the last month. Though he still hears some voices, they are no longer saying horrible things and he feels like he has some control over quieting them. He is able to sleep through the night with the light off, and is no longer fearful of water.
Janet came to see Dr. Brooke at the age of 35, after suffering from episodes of depression for “as long as I can remember”. She told her that she was a very sensitive child growing up. She was the oldest of 3, always “the responsible one”, caring for her younger siblings, especially after her father died and her mother began drinking heavily. She was only 10 years old at the time and often the subject of verbal abuse from her mother. The depressive episodes she recalls as a child were “like a dark blanket of sadness.” All she wanted was to be alone and cry. But instead, she would put on a strong façade and pretend to be happy for the sake of her little brother and sister. ?In her adulthood, her depressions were similar. It took her a while to open up to Dr. Brooke at first, but when she finally did, she admitted how much her past still affects her. She will sit in her room all day with the shades down, because the sunlight hurts her eyes and makes her feel worse. She will dwell on the past, thinking about all the horrible things that her mother used to say to her and how much it hurt losing her father. She thinks this may be the reason that she has never married. Although for the past 7 years, she has also had a secret, unrequited love for her married neighbor. She feels full of hopelessness and despair, that her life will never get better, and often contemplates suicide. She also suffers from frequent migraines, with a feeling “like my head will burst open”, which is made worse from sunlight and motion. She strongly craves salty foods and vinegar.
Based on Janet’s unique symptoms, Dr. Brooke prescribed the homeopathic remedy Natrum muriaticum 30C.
When Janet returned to the office two weeks later she reported that for the first two days after taking the Nat mur, she “could not stop crying”, but that it was different than her normal crying spells, which seemed completely useless. This cry felt cathartic, and when it was over, she felt a great sense of relief. Since then, she had only thought of her past a few times, and without much sadness. Her mood and energy were much improved, and she had only had one headache, which she “wouldn’t even classify as a migraine.” She also admits that she signed up for an online dating service because she feels like she “might finally be ready to meet someone.”
What Janet experienced with her first remedy is a classic example of an initial homeopathic aggravation, followed by improvement. Though her depression was not cured forever with this first remedy, she experienced quick relief and a better understanding of her depression. Janet now needs a new potency of Nat mur every 1-3 months. Each time her depression returns, it is less severe and for shorter duration than the previous episode. Occasionally, she needs a different remedy for new symptoms that crop up, but usually she returns to needing Nat mur. Janet will probably be completely free of depression within 2-3 more years of treatment, though her appointments will happen less frequently over that time.
Pediatric Depression Story
Jose is an 11-year-old boy who was initially brought in to see Dr. Brooke by his father for what he perceived to be a developmental delay. Jose was not doing well in school, didn’t have many friends, and didn’t speak much. During the intake it became clear that Jose is actually a very bright boy who was suffering from depression. After getting to know more about how Jose spends his day he shared that he doesn’t talk much because he spends his time thinking. With a bit of patience Jose shared that what he thinks about most is how things could be different, specifically related to his mother who left him with his father over 9 years ago. He would spend hours a day thinking about it, preferably alone. He said he felt very sad but never cried. He had some feelings of resentment toward his stepmother, who he never really bonded with and who rarely made efforts to engage him. Further discussion revealed that he has an aversion to the sun, making it hard to play with the other kids at recess, as he tended to stay in the shade.
Jose’s case indicated that Natrum muriaticum was the best remedy for him, so it was given in the potency 30C. This case, however, was complicated by his living situation. His father didn’t spend much time with him, and Jose never saw his biological mother despite her living only 15 miles from him. His father acknowledged that she was busy with her new family and that Jose’s stepmother had never really “taken to him” and that he might be missing out on some things in life. Knowing that a difficult home situation can blunt or slow responses to homeopathic medicine, Dr. Brooke referred the family to counseling. As of the last follow up Jose was showing steady improvement, and his stepmother has started attending his doctor’s visits with him to support him. Jose tried out for his middle school’s football team – and he made it!
Mary (name changed) came to see Dr. Brooke for chronic anxiety and panic attacks. She had been caring for her son with schizophrenia for the past 5 years, and in that time her symptoms of anxiety progressively worsened. She also suffered from insomnia, headaches, and urinary incontinence.
The anxiety started with worrying about her son, everything from how his life would turn out, to whenever she heard a siren outside, automatically thinking something horrible had happened to him. These feelings eventually progressed to a constant sense of dread that something terrible would happen and a feeling like she had done something wrong. It was always worse in the evening and worse after a long night of caretaking. She would often lay awake at night weeping while worrying about her son. Her panic attacks occurred whenever she saw someone in a potentially dangerous situation, such as a man fixing a telephone pole, or standing on the edge of a roof, because she was certain they would fall. In recent years she developed stress incontinence that resulted in passing small amounts of urine each time she sneezed or laughed. Her headaches, which she described as a feeling like there was something lodged between her brain and her forehead, occurred almost daily. Based on these unique symptoms, Dr. Brooke prescribed the homeopathic remedy Causticum 30C.
At the first follow up two weeks later, Mary reported that her anxiety was 30 to 40% better and continuing to improve. After six weeks, some of Mary’s symptoms returned and she needed a higher potency of Causticum. Currently her anxiety is 80 to 90% better, and her incontinence and headaches have not returned.
Brandon (name changed) came to see Dr. Brooke for anxiety. He had experienced the first death of a family member about a year prior to coming in and it seemed to have affected him greatly. He had become greatly concerned about death, even more so when a family member became sick. Brandon had always been a sensitive kid, often showing concern for others above and beyond his peers, so his parents initially thought that his anxiety was just an extension of this. They had hoped that it would pass in time, but it seemed to only be worsening. He had become increasingly clingy, which seemed odd for a 10-year-old. The only thing that seemed to bring him relief was a strong embrace or vigorous rubbing. He tended to get worse anxiety around the time the sun would go down, and had developed a new fear of ghosts.
It was pretty clear that the best remedy for Brandon was Phosphorus. Dr. Brooke prescribed 30C once a day. At his first follow-up Brandon told Dr. Brooke that he felt like life was easier and that he didn’t feel so nervous anymore. His dad shared that he felt like he had seen some improvement, and that Brandon was definitely less clingy, but that he still didn’t seem like his old self. We decided to continue taking the remedy at the same potency. Brandon continued similarly, showing moderate improvement, for the next several visits. At his 4th follow-up, Brandon said he was starting to be more nervous again and was disappointed because he had been feeling better. At this point, Dr. Brooke, Brandon, and his father decided it would be best to increase the remedy. As of his most recent follow-up Brandon is continuing to improve and feels like his life is easier again.
Jacob (patient’s name has been changed) first came to see Dr. Bahr as a referral for homeopathic treatment of ADHD. Jacob was 13 at the time, and was having increasing difficulty with completing his schoolwork. Despite being a very sweet kid who was eager to please his parents and teachers, he also found himself getting into trouble for his inattention. His parents had tried eliminating sugar and food coloring from his diet with some success, but not enough to keep him from needing to be prescribed stimulant medications.
At the initial consultation, Jacob and his family decided that homeopathy would be the best approach to take at this point as his goal is to eliminate the need for medication. It seemed the medication helped, but left him feeling a bit more “on edge” than he liked. When taking Jacob’s case it was uncovered that he was a very precocious young man with a well-developed vocabulary. He had a great interest in technology, and even taught Dr. Bahr a few things about how to best use her computer. His greatest struggles with attention were related to his great need for perfection and order, causing him to lose sight of the task at hand. He was also a very creative kid, and found that he was greatly affected by music.
His symptoms suggested that Carcinosin 30C was the best remedy for him. At his first follow-up he reported an easing of the tension he felt with needing everything to be perfect and well organized and an increased ability to focus. He was getting in trouble less at school, and had decided to try out for the basketball team. He continued to improve, slowly, beyond the initial follow-up for another 6 months. At the 7-month follow-up he reported that he had started to get in trouble in class again because he was focusing too much on things that were of interest to him and once again losing focus on the task at hand. He was increased to Carcinosin 200C, and continues to improve. He has not yet removed his stimulant medication entirely, but he has found that he doesn’t need to use it daily.
Abby (patient’s name has been changed) was a 5 year old when she first came to see Dr. Brooke. Her mother brought her in with concerns that she might be showing early signs of bipolar disorder, a condition that runs in her family. Abby had been having difficulty in school and her temper tantrums had become uncontrollable, causing discord in her family. She had been to see a child psychiatrist who prescribed an SSRI for her, but her mother was hoping to find natural treatments that would help her. She had tried food allergy elimination in the past, with little success.
Abby’s biggest problem at the time she began treatment was rage. She could be set into a destructive screaming fit at the slightest provocation. She would fight with her sister quite often, demanding that she wanted something and growing angry again shortly after she got it. This difficulty continued into school where she was often in trouble. At her angriest, she would yell at her mother “I just need to be held!” However, once her mother acquiesced to holding her, she began to kick her legs and butt her head against her mother’s chest. Mom shared that Abby was not always so angry, and in fact, had gone through a period where she seemed lethargic and low-spirited. Another problem was related to Abby’s great sensitivity to changes in temperature. Heat in particular, would often lead to her taking off all of her clothing the minute she felt the slightest warmth. Mom was frustrated and felt that nothing could please Abby.
Aside from her behavioral health concerns, Abby had recently been having stomachaches. She had had a full examination including diagnostic imaging, and the results were unremarkable. Her symptoms included diarrhea multiple times a day for several months. When asked about the diarrhea itself, Abby shared that it was green. Mom was surprised by this because she wasn’t being fed anything that would typically turn her stool green, and no one else in her family had been sick.
Based on her symptoms, Abby was given Chamomile 30C. At her 1-week check in, she had stopped taking off her clothes, and her temperament had greatly improved. Her diarrhea had also decreased in frequency, and was completely gone by her 1-month follow-up. Abby continued to have improved mood for the next month. Just prior to her 3-month follow up she started to have more anger and had started to have more difficulty with temperature changes again. Her diarrhea did not return. At this time she was given Chamomile 200C. One week following this prescription, Abby’s mood was once again improved and she was getting along very well with her sister and classmates. Abby’s mom has talked to the psychiatrist to begin a trial of gradually reducing the anti-depressant. With continued care, Abby should transition into her teenaged and adult years smoothly.
Molly (name changed) had been experiencing motor tics for approximately 2 years before she was brought to our office by her mother. About one month prior to meeting her, Molly had started to have vocal tics as well. Molly’s parents were concerned because the motor tics seemed to be worsening, and had begun to cause her some distress. Her motor tics involved involuntary movement of her hands, usually in a rhythmic motion. Her vocal tics were a constant, regular clearing of the throat.
Molly’s case was somewhat difficult in that there wasn’t anything unusual about her presentation of Tourette’s syndrome. It took some further exploration into her as a whole person to determine the best remedy. It turned out that aside from her tics, Molly also frequently suffered from eczema. During an eczema flare she was very restless and unable to sleep well. The eczema itched and burned after she scratched it, and was only relieved by a hot washcloth or hot shower. She was also extremely neat and organized for a child, and had a fear of robbers breaking into her house. These symptoms helped to narrow down the field of remedies and made it clear that Arsenicum was best suited for her case.
Molly’s mother was worried about giving her daughter a remedy made from such a toxic metal. With some careful explanation about the dilution process and taking the time to address all of her concerns, Molly’s mother left feeling very comfortable giving the medicine to her daughter. Molly was given homeopathic Arsenicum 200C to be taken once daily. After several follow-ups, and a few changes in potency, Molly’s tics and eczema resolved. It took about a year and a half in total, but Molly and her parents were both thrilled with the results.
Pediatric Bipolar Story
Billy (name changed) is a 9-year-old boy coming to our clinic for extreme mood swings. Billy was having problems since the age of 3, but his parents did not seek out treatment until recently due to fear of medications. A typical day is very difficult for Billy, his parents, and teachers at school. He would wake up in a foul, angry mood and would not go to school. When his mother attempted to dress him he would yell “don’t touch me” and would repeat how much he hated his mother. During his first hour of school he would not participate and scowled at teachers and other students. He would return from school and a daily 3-hour tantrum cycle would begin. He would be easily triggered and would start by saying nasty things to his mother such as “I have hated you from day one.” He would use language that you would never expect from such a young boy. It would escalate and he would become very destructive and over the past 6 months he has broken nearly all his mother’s favorite possessions. If anyone got in his way he would hit, kick, spit, or pull hair. If he escalated to extreme anger, he would repeatedly bang his head on the floor causing bruising and sometimes bleeding. When the anger subsided he would cry and repeat that “no one likes me” or that “everyone hates me.” This cycle would last about 15 minutes and then would start all over again. During the worst weeks he would have marked delusions of greatness and planned on doing some of the most impossible things. Billy would then have weeklong periods where he would become very sensitive and withdrawn. He would misinterpret the slightest facial expression or word to mean that no one likes him and would cry often. During these times he would write letters to his mother that he wished he were dead and in heaven because no one cares about him. Billy had numerous other troubling symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, anxiety, and a very obsessive nature with television, video games, and food. Billy’s case is a classic case of pediatric bipolar disorder with clear depressive periods and manic episodes. His mood swings left his parents, teachers, and those around him exasperated.
The good news is cases like Billy’s respond rapidly to homeopathic treatment. Billy was given the homeopathic medicine Tuberculinum and within a week his situation was much improved. His tantrums were no longer every day, and when they did occur, they lasted only 15 minutes. He was more pleasant in the morning, and most days would voluntarily dress himself and go to school. He had not broken anything during this first week and had not banged his head on the floor. By one month his mother said “Oh my goodness! He is a new child, he is so much better.” His tantrums were gone. He was getting up easily and in a good mood. He no longer said he hated anyone or that everyone hated him. His focus, headaches, stomachaches and social interactions were all very much improved. Billy’s anger never returned. He needed continued treatment for about a year to remain stable but his mother repeats every time we speak, “I have a new child!”
Toby had always been a difficult child. He had bouts with attention problems and occasional rage, and his family was desperate to find some help. Toby was first taken to a developmental pediatrician and then a child psychiatrist. Ultimately, it was uncovered that Toby showed strong traits of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was put on an SSRI in an attempt to control it. The SSRI did help control his anxiety and compulsive behaviors, which had been contributing to the rage and attention difficulties. Although his parents were pleased to see him feeling better, they grew increasingly concerned about the long-term effects of the drug, especially as Toby would grow older. This is when they decided to bring him to see Dr. Brooke, in hopes that they could find a natural alternative to manage his OCD.
Dr. Brooke spent a few hours talking with Toby and both of his parents to understand exactly how he experiences all of his symptoms, both at the present time and before he began medication. Toby had several rituals that he conducted daily, counting being the most pervasive. He would get obsessive about his creative projects too, working feverishly until they were completed, and would visibly show relief, including an audible sigh, once they were done. The rages tended to only happen when the rituals or compulsive behaviors were interrupted and he was unable to complete them. When in a rage he would destroy anything he could get his hands on. The rages could become so violent that he would scare his family. This was an interesting symptom because this type of response is not common for a child with OCD. On continued investigation, it was disclosed that Toby was a very fidgety child, specifically with his feet, and was only able to calm down if music with a heavy, steady beat came on. These symptoms indicated that the best remedy for him at the time was Tarentula. After several months of improvement on Tarentula 30C, Toby’s symptoms changed, and a new remedy was indicated for him. He is continuing treatment at this time, and his anxiety and compulsions are improving at every visit. His rages have not returned.