Hypnotherapy for Anxiety, Phobias, Stress, Depression, PTSD & OCD

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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is the body’s normal response to danger, and can be helpful in improving performance and preparing the body for action. However, when anxiety is experienced at inappropriate times or too intensely it is a cause of disease. Depression often follows on as a response to anxiety and may mask the original anxiety. People have varying degrees of background (or ‘trait’) anxiety, but also react differently to specific experiences, which may cause a ‘state’ anxiety.

Physical symptoms of anxiety may include: palpitations (racing heart), shortage of breath, a tightness of the chest, dry mouth, nausea, trembling and sweating. Psychological symptoms may include: tension, agitation, fearing losing control, irritability, dreading catastrophic physical incapacitation and feelings of detachment from the outside world. Some people may experience problems of hyperventilation (over-breathing), resulting in a so-called ‘panic attack’.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Some people with high levels of trait anxiety experience symptoms for much of the time, not related to any specific situation. It is common in people who are depressed and may often accompany phobias or be triggered by physiological factors such as an overactive thyroid. It is thought that GAD affects about 1 in 20 adults in the UK, most commonly with people in their 20s. Psychological symptoms may include feeling restless, feeling constantly 'on edge', being unable to concentrate on matters other than the worries, being easily distracted and not being able to work effectively.

Hypnotherapy can help with anxiety!

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy (in association with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT) are the best tools for treating anxiety, and the anxiety can often be managed in just a few sessions. This could involve:

  • Teaching relaxation; hypnosis itself is the best tool to achieve full body and mind relaxation, so even the first session brings strong relief

Dealing with the original causes and reasons for anxiety

Removing the fear of panic attacks (and this usually solves the panic attacks too)

Finding solutions for dealing with fearful situations and rehearsing them, using a combination of CBT and hypnosis

Building confidence and self-esteem by accessing client's natural resources on the subconscious level  

Coaching for the future – it is very important that the client practices what has been identified in the hypnotherapy sessions, both in the real world and by using self-hypnosis techniques taught as part of the treatment.

Usually between four and five sessions are needed, depending on the severity of anxiety and how many other issues need treatment. However, when the anxiety is associated with depression, feelings of low self-worth, eating disorders or OCD, more sessions are needed, because the real reason of anxiety is very deeply rooted in other mental issues and it is important to clear them all.

Phobic disorders

A phobia is an extreme form of anxiety that is directed towards a particular object. When someone has an irrational fear that is out of all proportion to the situation, the usual response is to reduce the anxiety by avoiding the feared situation. Some phobias may be exaggerated responses to situations that evolution has conditioned us to avoid, such as poisonous snakes and insects, or heights. Some phobias may arise from non-threatening situations being associated in the unconscious mind with some traumatic experience, which may be completely unrelated to the original event! Even thinking of the situation may cause ‘anticipatory anxiety’ and an attempt to avoid it if at all possible.

Specific (or simple) phobias include: animals (particularly insects, spiders, snakes, birds or dogs), needles and sharp objects, blood, heights and flying (for details of our special fear of flying course, click here).

Complex phobias include agoraphobia and social phobia. Agoraphobia may manifest in a number of ways: a fear of leaving home, crowded places, travelling on public transport or being trapped in a lift. Agoraphobia may cause the sufferer to have panic attacks, and is often associated with depression. Social phobias may be associated with agoraphobia and involve a fear of social interaction. This could involve a fear of public speaking, social dining or simply talking to other people.

The 10 most commonly reported phobias in the UK, according to a survey by Anxiety UK, are:

Also very common phobias are:

Sociaphobia – fear of interacting with other people

Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes

Agoraphobia – fear of open public spaces

Astraphobia / Brontophobia – fear of thunder/lightning

Emetophobia – fear of vomiting

Trypanophobia – fear of needles

Erythrophobia – fear of blushing

Odontophobia – fear of dentists

Driving phobia – fear of driving a car

Acrophobia – fear of heights

Hypochondria – fear of illness

Cynophobia – fear of dogs

Aerophobia / aviophobia – fear of flying

Carcinophobia - fear of cancer

Arachnophobia – fear of spiders

Haemophobia - fear of blood

Zoophobia – fear of animals

Necrophobia - fear of death or dead things

Claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces

Nomophobia - fear of no mobile phone contact!

Many specific phobias can be solved relatively easily, as they usually have a cause in the past which can be accessed and resolved. The specific phobia may need only two sessions, even if it is very strong and there are panic attacks.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterised by obsessional thoughts that repeatedly come onto the person’s mind, despite all efforts to stop them. The resultant conflict causes anxiety.

Obsessional thoughts commonly include such things as: a fear of dirt and germs, doubting something has been done (such as turning off the cooker, light switches or locking the doors), or some unpleasant images of harmful events. Obsessional acts include repetitive actions such as hand-washing, cleaning the house, compulsive shopping for unnecessary items, hoarding, or ritualistic behaviour.

CBT has been increasingly used to challenge the sufferer's irrational thinking, together with hypnosis to 'rehearse' more rational behaviours.

Stress-related disorders 

We all have an instinctive stress response as part of our survival programming for when we are in danger. Hormones generate instant mental and physical changes, generally referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Unfortunately, the pressures of modern life cause us to remain stressed for longer periods of time and when the ‘fight or flight’ response is not appropriate. The pressure is not necessarily due to the stressor itself, but to the person’s own interpretation of it or the ability to deal with it. 

The repeated activation of the stress response leaves us with extra glucose surging through our systems that can result in aching limbs, neck ache, tiredness, dry mouth, stomach-ache, dizziness and depressed immune system making us more vulnerable to colds and flu. Over a long period this can also lead to hypertension or even heart attack or stroke.

With the help of hypnotherapy, you may be able to identify the cause(s) of your stress. It may be a past experience, a situation, a physical issue or something to do with a relationship that’s the main cause. After discovering the root of the problem, you will then agree upon a goal to work towards. Hypnotherapy for stress can start to work in a few sessions, but it entirely depends on your reaction to the therapy. After attending a number of sessions and practicing self-hypnosis at home, you may start to feel more relaxed and confident in the situations that previously caused you to feel stressed.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to an event resulting in psychological trauma such that the event persistently replays in the mind. The sufferer may avoid stimuli associated with the trauma and be subject to 'emotional numbing' of certain feelings. The symptoms are long-lasting and significantly impair aspects of the person's life.

There are techniques in hypnotherapy that can safely be used to help a sufferer of PTSD. Unlike other therapies, there is no exposure to the traumatic event, preventing unnecessary stress for the client in recollecting the event. It is also non-voyeuristic in that the therapist does not need to know all the details of the trauma. The process need not be protracted and it is never too late to help.

Depression

Thought to be the number-one psychological disorder in the Western world, symptoms comprise feelings, physical, thoughts and behaviours. Most depression is caused by unhelpful thinking styles or cognitive distortions.

The aim of hypnotherapy as a type of treatment for mild or moderate depression is to target the root cause of the issue and to develop better coping behaviours. In most circumstances you will usually forget or suppress the cause of your depression because of the association with negative feelings. It’s not difficult to forget an event on a conscious level, but it is on a subconscious level. This is why it’s best to confront the issue head on, rather than burying it, which canworsen your depression. Hypnotherapy connects directly with the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy will address your perception of the event that has caused you to become depressed, aiming to improve your self-esteem, mood and help you gain your independence back.

 

You can contact h2 NATURAL HEALTH psychology of Perthshire on 01828 633033 or send a confidential email using the form on the contact page. Evening and weekend appointments are available.