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Are you suffering from an anxiety disorder and hoping to find relief in complementary and alternative treatment methods? Hypnosis may be an avenue you want to explore.

Complementary and alternative medicine comprise a broad range of alternative products and practices. These "alternative" methods have expanded into the mainstream in recent times, and may be part of treatment strategies for physical and mental health conditions.

The techniques involved are considered complementary to "regular" treatment options, which, in the case of anxiety disorders, would be psychotherapy alongside medication. Complementary and alternative medicine comes in different forms such as aromatherapy and acupuncture, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and mindfulness.

Hypnotherapy is also a form of complementary or alternative treatment. It has become popular in the treatment of anxiety disorders, but can it help you

A look into hypnosis

Hypnotherapy is also known as hypnosis. It is a technique often used to help a person who has an altered state of mind also referred to as a trance. When you’re in a hypnotic state, you’re deeply relaxed and more focused on the subject. You’re also open to suggestions, even if they are contradicting. Hypnotherapy is often used to assist people in managing various health issues — as different as skin conditions, addiction, sleep disorders, stress, and smoking cessation.

In a typical session of hypnosis, the program guides the client into a calm state. You immediately feel relaxed and alert, and the hypnotist works to bring their attention to behaviors or situations you intend to change. Some of these situations are to help a person feel less stressed or no longer stressed. At any given time, when one becomes stressed, they will pause and feel energized. After giving affirmations and positive suggestions for future behavior, the client is guided to go back to their initial state.

How hypnosis can help treat anxiety

In all honesty, most individuals have experienced anxiety at some point in life, and this isn't necessarily a problem. But, people who have anxiety disorders often have intense, persistent worries as well as fear about normal and safe situations. This then begins to have a marked impact on the person's ability to function, as well as on their overall wellbeing. 

Anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of a feeling of deep anxiety or terror. These feelings may reach a peak within minutes. They may also interfere with your daily activities. Anxiety disorders are not just difficult to control but are out of proportion too. They can be dangerous if they last a long time.

People with anxiety disorders avoid places to prevent such feelings. Most of the symptoms can start during childhood. They can also continue into adulthood. A few examples of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobias, separation, and panic disorder. 

Hypnosis is an adjunct type of therapy. It is used alongside other forms of medical treatment. There are also many applications. Hypnosis may be used to improve different symptoms of anxiety. Research indicates that hypnosis can help relieve stress and anxiety. It can also be used to help patients cope with panic disorder. While in treatment, a patient with panic disorder can be guided to focus on coping with specific symptoms as well as overcoming behaviors.

Treating Anxiety

When the hypnotist has assisted the patient in relaxing, the subject may be asked to concentrate on their underlying fears. The individual will bring awareness to the client's physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions linked to their attacks. These could be chest pain, fear, and shaking. The hypnotist will recite calming words to encourage the patient to feel safe. You may also be guided into thinking that you're in control of the situation. One can be asked to take deep breaths to feel calmer.

In addition, hypnosis can be used in treating agoraphobia which is a condition in people living with panic disorder. This condition entails the fear of developing panic attacks in restrictive circumstances such as crowds. It may also include a fear of driving. The treatment method can allow you to master how to remain calm while facing such worries. A hypnotist may help you to focus on overcoming these phobias. They may also suggest various ways to remain relaxed even when in a precarious environment. If you have a panic disorder, hypnosis can assist you in improving self-esteem, managing troublesome symptoms, as well as overcome negative thinking. The treatment method can also be used on people with co-occurring anxiety symptoms such as migraines, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Who administers hypnotherapy?

Hypnosis can be conducted by a certified mental health professional that has vast experience and is trained to offer this method of treatment. A qualified hypnotist may be found on online resources such as the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis as well as the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists. The general experience of hypnosis may vary from one person to the other. Many individuals have reservations about hypnotherapy where they fear that they might lose control of their lives and thoughts. These are major — and frankly, understandable — concerns given how hypnosis is described in popular media.

Self-hypnosis is a state where a person offers suggestions to themselves following induction to get into a relaxed and open state of thinking. In this session, one gives themselves a particular healing suggestion which may be tailored to induce their bodies to function positively. Self-hypnosis is commonly used to administer treatment in people with mental and emotional dysfunction. Even though it has various side effects, there are dangers that one needs to be aware of. In self-hypnosis, you are required to use certain trigger words to be able to go in and out of the session. The words are common. They are also used daily. Your choice of words may send you to a significant hypnotic state that can be dangerous. The general state of hypnosis varies from one person to the other.

It's vital for you to discuss various treatment options with your doctor. You may also take to your mental health care provider before signing up with a hypnotist. Your ability to use this treatment method will vary depending on your mental health condition.
 

  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth
  • www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm144657.htm
  • www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5735a5.htm?s_cid=mm5735a5_e
  • apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254610/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf?sequence=1

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