Hypnosis For Anxiety
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Tanya Harell
We have all been anxious at some point in life. Whether it's feeling uptight or uneasy, it's perfectly normal to be a little anxious. In fact, it can have some good effects, such as sharpening our awareness for an exam or an interview. While a little anxiety is normal, some excessive anxiety and worry can be unhealthy. If you can't sleep well at night, or if you sweat profusely and feel nausea just before your interview, then there is a problem. If these feelings last longer than six months and are interfering with your life, then you may have an anxiety disorder.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is the body's natural response to stress. It's the feeling of apprehension and fear about what is happening or what is to come. Our reaction to stress is an inbuilt survival mechanism that originally enabled us to act when our lives were threatened. To act, the heartbeat is strengthened, blood is pumped to body muscles, and blood pressure is raised. When an action is taken, and the danger is over, or the problem has been resolved, the body relaxes and returns to normal. However, when the threat is low-level and constant as in common stressful situations of modern living, often no action can be taken to deal with it, and the body suffers long-term tension.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may also be depressed since these problems often run hand in hand. People with anxiety disorders may also abuse alcohol and other drugs in efforts to feel better. While this may provide temporary relief, it ultimately makes the problem worse.
Symptoms Of An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety symptoms look and feel different in different people. Some people feel they're standing in the middle of a crumbling building with nothing but an umbrella for protection. Or one might feel like they are in a merry-go-round moving at 65mph and have no way of slowing it down. Others experience butterflies in the stomach, a racing heart, nightmares, painful thoughts, panic, painful memories they can't control, or fear about a specific place or event.
Other symptoms of anxiety include rapid breathing, increased heart rate, difficulty falling asleep, restlessness, sweaty palms, and trouble concentrating. An anxiety disorder may stop you from doing things you enjoy. It may also prevent you from normal things such as using an elevator, leaving your home and crossing the street. If not untreated, anxiety can get worse.
There are many ways of treating anxiety, but one of the most effective therapy with a professional counselor, including hypnosis.
How Does Hypnosis Work For Anxiety?
Hypnosis is a state of active consciousness where the subject is aware and alert at all times. When used in therapy, it's non-invasive. Instead, it focuses on finding out the cause of a person's problem as it heals the mind. It reduces peripheral awareness while making a person focus all their attention towards one particular field in conversation.
Basically, the treatment uses concentration, guided relaxation, and focused attention to get a heightened state of awareness that is called a trance. A person in this state is so focused that anything else going around is temporarily blocked out or totally ignored.
Hypnosis for anxiety works together with counseling to help people explore painful thoughts, memories, and feelings that might have been hidden in their conscious minds. Apart from this, hypnosis enables people to see things differently.
The hypnotic state makes a person able to respond to suggestions. This means hypnosis can be very effective in helping people change certain perceptions and sensations and particularly useful in treating anxiety.
For example, if you always get anxiety attacks when flying, you can visualize yourself going back to the very time you got scared of flying. A technique called hypnoprojectives can be used. Here, you can visualize the past events as you would have loved to have seen them. You will then see yourself in the future as calm and peaceful while on a plane.
Hypnosis is a series of reminders to help reduce fear and anxiety. It encourages a person to go into more positive directions when they feel overwhelmed by negativity. This treatment method is sometimes useful in clearing past experiences.
Hypnosis is sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders such as:
- Panic Disorders
This is characterized by intense fear and terror that develops quickly and unexpectedly. Hypnosis can be used in coping with symptoms of panic anxiety disorder. During hypnotherapy, a person may be asked to focus on their panic attacks. This will bring awareness to their emotions, physical sensations, and cognitions associated with the attacks. The hypnotists will then use calming words of encouragement and suggest ways of coping with such feelings. It also helps a person with anxiety, improves their self-esteem, overcomes negative thinking, and manage serious symptoms of anxiety.
This is an excessive fear of a certain object, activity or situation. People with phobias can go to great lengths to avoid whatever they fear. If they can't avoid it, they will tolerate it with great anxiety. Hypnosis therapy for anxiety helps to access the underlying cause of the phobia and eliminates a person's conditioned response to the action causing the anxiety.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
People with this anxiety disorder suffer from compulsive behavior patterns that repeat even when the person realizes the behaviors are irrational and unreasonable. The person may even appear superstitious. For example, they may recheck their looks for up to seven times before leaving the house or continually wash their hands.
Often the compulsive behavior is a way of comforting the inner child and to protect them from deep fears. Such fears usually originate from childhood experiences. Hypnosis for anxiety assists a person with finding the first scene where they began to feel so dirty they had to clean their hands compulsively. It also helps 'wash off' the dirty child and encourage the person to love their inner child.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This is an anxiety disorder that comes after one goes through a traumatic event. While Hypnosis for anxiety cannot erase the traumatic events, it directly addresses the painful events and their effects. It allows people to access information stored in the physical body, the subconscious mind, and their energetic fields. The traumatic event is examined, the emotions surrounding it are processed and expressed, and any negative conclusions and beliefs are released and transformed.
By doing this, a person can reclaim their strength and virtues, which eventually heals them from the anxiety disorder.
- Social Anxiety
This type of disorder is composed of extreme fear of being judged by other people in social situations. For example, if your first public speaking experience was traumatic, you may associate interacting in public with intense anxiety. For this reason, you may avoid going to public places for fear of being judged or humiliated.
Fortunately, hypnosis can be very effective in treating this problem. The main goal of hypnosis for social anxiety is to help separate the body's anxiety response from the traumatic public speaking experience. Apart from this, it also trains the brain how to be calm when around people.
With hypnosis, you quickly learn how to get along with others by just being yourself easily, and stop being too self-conscious about what others think about you.
- Separation Anxiety
This is the fear of being far away from people you love or home. For example, when a child leaves home for college, both the parent and the child might experience separation anxiety disorder. Or, a married woman can become extremely anxious and worried whenever her husband leaves home for work, or when her children leave for school. She is fully convinced that something awful will happen, like getting hit by a car or get kidnapped.
Hypnosis can help you calm down if you are suffering from separation anxiety. It works by internalizing a sense of a loving, caring figure in your life that you could call on in your mind whenever you feel extremely anxious.
Hypochondriasis is also known as illness anxiety disorder. People with this disorder strongly believe they have a serious or life-threatening illness even though they have experienced few to zero symptoms. Even when they see a doctor and no illness is found, they are not reassured, and their worries will continue. In fact, such people are constantly looking for health problems such as sores, lumps, aches, and pains.
Consciously, you may be aware you're not sick, but your subconscious is the part of controlling your behavior. During hypnosis for anxiety, you may discover that your fear of getting sick goes back to your mother, who was obsessed with cleaning germs. Your subconscious then took note of your mother's behavior and developed an irrational fear of getting sick. No matter the cause of your anxiety, hypnosis re-trains your subconscious to separate legitimate illnesses from imagined ones.
A hypnotherapy session can last between 20 and 60 minutes. At the end of every session, you are brought back to alertness to reflect on the experience. In most cases, you will be given instructions on how to practice self-hypnosis for anxiety. The number of sessions required depends on the type of anxiety disorder and the severity of the condition.
If you want to learn more about hypnosis for anxiety, contact one of our certified BetterHelp counselors.