Anxiety is something that nearly everyone has experienced at one time or another in their lifetime. More and more modern day society is becoming more demanding. In the UK, about one in seven people suffer from stress or anxiety at any one time. More people are becoming overwhelmed and this can lead to anxiety and stress which can significantly harm the quality of life and wellbeing.
Anxiety and stress can manifest in different ways however, some common physical and psychological signs of anxiety or stress are:
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
- Panic attacks
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Fear of losing control
- Feelings of detachment
- Irrational dread
- Phobias and fears
The feeling of anxiety is linked to our inbuilt instinct, where adrenaline is produced when our fight or flight response is triggered. This response of adrenalin can cause increased heart rate, pumping oxygen around the body. The person can become hypervigilant, unable to calm down or focus. Anxiety may be linked to a previous experience, a specific activity or situation or be generalised in nature, where there is no apparent trigger or cause. This response can also become a learned behaviour in certain circumstances and this can result in experiencing anxiety more frequently and even escalating to panic attacks. Anxiety can leave people feeling lost, desperate and alone and this can lead to an increasingly limited life. Treating anxiety with hypnotherapy enables us to identify the root cause of the problem and allow the client to find a healthier more appropriate response. The meditative qualities of hypnotherapy can help clients be free from the old anxious thoughts and feelings and result in a more calm and confident state.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Depression can often be associated with a distressing or traumatic event. The people or situations that are linked to that event can be traumatic triggers. Traumatic triggers could include a bereavement, losing a job, divorce, or financial impacts such as bankruptcy or home repossession. The traumatic trigger then produces thoughts and feelings of, what Dr Fritz Perls called, “unfinished business”. These unresolved feelings, such as resentments, regrets, blame, anger, guilt, jealousy, and fear are stored in the body and must be released as soon after the triggering event as possible.
Depression can leave you feeling like you have no energy, a lack of concentration, irritability and even affect your sleep. It can leave you with a sense of aloneness that can be quite overwhelming. The thing is, you are not alone. Depression can affect one in seven people at least once in their lives. So you aren’t alone because chances are someone you know has also felt those feelings of depression.
Feelings of depression can affect your performance at work, relationships at home and with colleagues. It can also affect your physical health which impacts your quality of life day to day. Depression can feel like a dark cloud that covers and infects everything in your life and can often feel like there is no escape. This isn’t the case though, depression can be treated in a number of ways from pharmacology to psychotherapy. Depression is more than just feeling sad or having negative thoughts. It’s a condition where the chemicals in your brain are imbalanced.
There are also different forms of depression. These include:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - This is when depression affects you at certain times of the year.
- Dysthymia - This is when you have mild depression continuously for over two years and may also be called chronic depression or persistent depressive disorder.
- Bipolar disorder - This is when you experience extreme lows and extreme highs (known as manic episodes).
- Prenatal depression - This is when depression happens during pregnancy.
- Postnatal depression (PND) - This is when depression happens after having a baby. It usually affects the mother, but fathers can experience it too.
Through hypnotherapy, depression can be treated quite effectively. You may have been living with depression since as far back as you can remember or it may be something new, either way, through hypnotherapy we are able to pinpoint where these feelings derive from, go past all the noise and that internal voice telling us it’s hopeless and change our unconscious perspective. With each session of hypnotherapy, we can replace the fearful repetitive thoughts that often follow a traumatic experience. Positive affirmations can now work because the underlying emotional release has been accomplished.
There may be many reasons for the depression and through a thorough review of diet, lifestyle and deep rooted subconscious behaviour, change can be implemented and lead to a new vibrant outlook on life.
Research into the use of hypnotherapy to treat depression
A meta-analysis of hypnosis in the treatment of depressive symptoms: a brief communication, abstract.
Managing our weight can be a struggle sometimes, especially with so much conflicting advice on hand. Weight loss hypnotherapy is used in a range of weight related treatments such as binge eating and bulimia, but also helps treat trigger symptoms such as anxiety. Hypnotherapy can help you reconnect with your instinctual need to only eat when you are hungry. You may think this sounds like common sense and we always know when we are hungry but often we can mistake hunger for thirst. We can also be led to believe, through habit of eating at certain times in the day, that we feel hunger however, it is our mind that is telling us we must be hungry because it’s that time of the day that we normally eat. Using Hypnotherapy to bypass those habitual thoughts and reset our thinking, we are able to make new conscious habits that can help us manage our weight more effectively. Using positive suggestions in a hypnotic state helps train the brain to make better choices of the types of food we eat and improve the relationship to food.
A study in International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found women who underwent hypnobehavioural therapy lost weight, improved their eating habits, and improved their body image. In addition, a meta-analysis by British researchers found hypnosis can actually help regulate the release of peptides that control how hungry and full you feel.
Gastric Band Hypnotherapy
Gastric Band Hypnotherapy helps you to stop the behaviour of habitual over-eating. It can also resolve any unconscious reasons for long term over-eating. Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) techniques and hypnotherapy are used to suggest to individuals that they have had a gastric band fitted. Medical gastric band surgery involves surgically restricting the stomach’s capacity which results in a feeling of fullness much more quickly and a reduction in food consumed. Gastric band hypnotherapy can produce the same benefits without the risks, fears, cost and potential side effects of the actual surgical procedure. The client is guided through the entire imagined operation, each step from administration of the anaesthetic, to the first incision and the last stitch. Afterwards the client will feel the sensation of fullness after just a few mouthfuls which means feeling less hungry, less often and ultimately eating less at each mealtime. Identifying and resolving the deep-seated emotional cause of the over-eating that has led to the weight gain is also explored so that the client can achieve and maintain an ongoing healthy weight.
Smoking is still one of the greatest causes for illness and premature deaths and kills around 7 million people globally each year. Not only is there the health benefits, including an improved immune system, that you gain from stopping smoking but you also save money and enjoy an improved physical appearance.
There certainly has been a shift towards the attitude of smoking and an incredible reduction in people taking up the habit. Despite this it can still be a daunting task to quit and can often result in relapses. These relapses are usually due to the persistent withdrawal symptoms of irritability, mood swings and cravings. With Hypnotherapy we are able to replace these feelings with more positive feelings of being free from the habit, leaving you with more energy, breathing easier and looking brighter and healthier.
Smoking is a habit and we all know habits reside deep in the unconscious part of the mind. Using hypnosis we can access nature’s optimal learning state of REM where your deeper, unconscious mind is more open to new ideas and suggestions. Reprogramming your unconscious mind you no longer need to fight the urge to smoke because the urge is no longer there. So with Hypnotherapy we have the ability to reframe this habit and replace them with new more positive ones to ensure a successful cessation of smoking.
Of course like with any habit there needs to be a strong desire to stop, plus an understanding of why you want to do it. Trying to quit if you aren’t ready can lead to relapses which will only lead to feelings of failure so it’s important to be fully committed to the idea before attempting to quit. When the decision is made to stop smoking, an important aspect is to being open to allow the routine to change and also change how the cigarette is viewed. Breaking any addiction is a challenge, and changing how you think about something can be difficult, this is where hypnotherapy can help. Changing your thought patterns and behaviours associated with smoking through visualisations and suggestions will replace the old thinking habits with more positive healthy ones.
Here are some links to research into the use of hypnotherapy to help people stop smoking:
Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation abstract.
Hypnosis for smoking cessation: a randomized trial abstract
Hypnosis and smoking cessation: the state of the science abstract.
Fears and Phobias
The majority of people have a fear of some thing, event or situation. And this is perfectly natural, it’s our instinct of self-preservation. However, when this fear turns into a phobia it can affect your day to day life. In the UK, an estimated 10 million people have phobias. They can also affect anyone, regardless of age, sex and social background.
A phobia can elicit a physical response known as a stress response. This can be described as being “paralysed with fear” or “having butterflies in the stomach” or even “just wanting to run away”. These statements clearly show the link with our flight or fight response. This instinctual response resides mostly in our subconscious and this is where hypnotherapy can help greatly.
Phobias are irrational and persistent fears that derive from learned behaviour. This behaviour can be learned from either a parent or carer or possibly a traumatic experience. We learn about fears either consciously or unconsciously as young children and often this is the time our fears are developed. Often, if a child witnesses a parent being frightened of something, the child’s instinctive response and the message hardwired in the brain may be influenced by the parents reaction and behaviour. Over time, the message can become reinforced and repeated exposure is likely to compound the fear and make it worse. Through hypnosis we can change the perception and relationship to the phobic trigger and thereby remove the power of it.
Hypnotherapy allows the client to go back to the initial event and view the event with adult eyes. By doing this, the cause of the problem is realised and this leads to a change in viewpoint of the event and how that event affects future life leading to the phobia. This change of view leads to a complete resolution of the symptoms.
Some common fear or phobias are:
- Fear of confined spaces
- Fear of dentists
- Fear of dogs
- Fear of flying
- Fear of heights
- Fear of needles
- Fear of pregnancy
- Fear of sickness
- Fear of spiders and other insects
- Fear of water
We, as humans, are creatures of habit. Creating habits is one of the most important parts of our development and learning process. Throughout this process of repeating our thoughts and actions we learn to find what is good and bad for us. Some of those habits however, may not serve a healthy purpose and are not wanted. Breaking bad habits with will power alone can be sometimes very difficult especially if created over a lifetime.
Unwanted habits generally form to manage stress, overcoming anxiety and promoting relaxation. Usually habits like biting nails, picking at skin and hair pulling are habits that are created in childhood subconsciously. A child may create these habits in order to gain a sense of control or for attention in those who feel neglected or abused. It may also be a form of self-punishment if the child feels guilty, ashamed or worthless.
Unwanted habits are not always physically impacting. Behaviours such as procrastination, obsessive compulsive behaviour and negative self-talk are emotionally harming and can damage a person’ self-esteem.
Habits can be acted out either consciously or unconsciously. Unconscious habits are the hardest to break as they happen almost automatically without a conscious intention, like nail biting or overeating. Habits can also have an immediate positive or pleasurable benefit but may also have negative consequences physically and emotionally. A perfect example is that cheeky piece of chocolate when you have had a hard day. We feel bad so we eat a chocolate, it tastes wonderful and temporarily makes us feel better. The unconscious part of the mind stores this feeling and understands that “feel bad, eat chocolate, feel better”. So next time we feel bad our unconscious mind will prompt us to eat chocolate to feel better and so an unhealthy eating pattern is created.
Accessing the unconscious part of our mind through hypnosis we are able to change the habit by exploring the reasons for that behaviour and instilling more control around the choice to continue to with that behaviour.
Insomnia can have a significant impact on your life, from your ability to function effectively every day, at work, in your personal life and your quality of life in general. Apart from feeling tired, it can also affect your physical health and lead to increased risk of heart disease. Mentally, it can increase your levels of anxiety and reduce your levels of concentration. Whether it’s not being able to fall asleep at all or having interrupted sleep through the night, Insomnia can leave you feeling drained and irritable. In the UK it’s estimated a third of people have had episodes of insomnia during their life.
Some symptoms of insomnia are:
- Being awake for long periods at night
- Inability to fall asleep
- Waking several times through the night
- Waking very early and unable to return to sleep
- Feeling tired and foggy when waking in the morning
- Difficulty in concentration or functioning
There are two types of insomnia, temporary and persistent. Temporary or acute insomnia can last between one night and four weeks. Some common cases could be jet lag, change in routine, stress or coffee and alcohol. It may also be experience periodically over months or years.
Persistent or chronic insomnia generally occurs more on a nightly basis or lasting for at least four weeks. This may be due to pain or medication from conditions such as arthritis, asthma, allergies, changing hormones or mental health issues.
Hypnotherapy can help the body and mind to relax by letting go of the anxiety created through not being able to fall asleep. It can even help sleepwalkers to learn to wake when their feet touch the floor. It may also increase the time spent in deep sleep which is key for memory and healing so you wake feeling refreshed.
Using hypnotherapy to address the underlying causes can help improve the sleeping pattern. If insomnia has been evident for a long period of time, the patterns of sleep disturbances can become embedded in your subconscious. With hypnosis we can communicate with the subconscious and break the negative thought patterns through positive suggestions.
Other treatable conditions include:
- Driving Problems
- Exam nerves, problems
- Low self esteem
- Memory problems
- Public Speaking
- Stage Fright
- Temper / Misplaced Anger