Lifestyle

Particularly in the case of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and some animal phobias, if the motivation is strong enough, it may be possible to desensitize oneself by very gradual exposure to the object of fear. It is advisable at the same time to learn simple breathing or relaxation techniques, or practice yoga, meditation, or tai chi. Breathing techniques are able to defuse anxiety when it threatens to overwhelm. Drugs and alcohol should not be used in an attempt to suppress fear since this may lead to dependence.

CAUTION

• If a person is feeling suicidal, contact their doctor or a counseling service immediately.

• If simple fear is greatly interfering with daily activities, consult a doctor.

CASE HISTORY

Maria, 24, was phobic about having contracted AIDS. She was unable to touch anything for fear of passing it to others and suffering unbearable guilt as a result. Maria's fears had been exacerbated after she terminated a pregnancy, causing her to feel extremely guilty.

PERSONAL DETAILS

Maria had been the victim of bullying at school. She had left university because of depression and agoraphobia. She was sensitive, lacked confidence, and felt detached from herself. She would decide on a course of action, but would then doubt that she could see it through. She had received psychiatric help.

FOOD PREFERENCES

Maria craved sweet foods, vinegar, and fat, particularly the fat on meat. She hated licorice, and avocados and bananas upset her digestion. She felt as though there was a plug at the end of her gullet.

GENERAL DETAILS

Maria felt generally unwell after studying or emotional stress. She disliked drafts and the open air—particularly if it was cold— and was sensitive to strong smells. She felt worse in the morning and evening, but better for eating and hot baths. She was prone to eczema on her wrists, and had lost more than 20 lb (9 kg) in weight over nine months.

PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP

Maria was given Anacardium or. and advised to write about the termination to release her suppressed feelings. One month later, she felt better and was less depressed. She was better able to make decisions, except before menstruation. She was given Alumina to take premenstrually. Soon after Maria went into dramatic decline, having learned that the father of the baby she had lost might move into the area. She felt angry, guilty, and hurt. Anacardium or. was repeated and, with behavioral therapy, she was able to overcome her phobia. It recurred briefly, but over the next few months, with Lac can. for fatigue and headaches that she had developed and repeat doses of Anacardium or., Maria made a full recovery.

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