Does hypnotherapy help with anxiety?
You bet it does! And is much more quick, effective, and cost-effective than talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and medication. More to follow on how it works below, and check out the scientific research abstracts at the bottom.
At the bottom of the page I have included feedback from several clients who came with anxiety and came for a single session of hypnotherapy. You’ll see that results are achieved in the very first session!
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is our nervous system stuck in overdrive. And the brain is part of the nervous system. That’s why anxiety is something we both feel in our bodies (butterflies in stomach, tightness in chest, panic attacks), and experience in our thoughts (racing thoughts, negative thinking, worry).
If you know the story about Chicken Little, you can probably see how this poor little bird was suffering from anxiety as it continually exclaimed “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” That’s how anxiety feels.
Anxiety often results in many other symptoms of an overactive mind: insomnia, poor attention and focus (attention-deficit disorder), agitation, frustration, restlessness. While mainstream medicine may prescribe 3 different medications for (1) anxiety, (2) insomnia, and (3) ADD, the truth is that most of the time, anxiety is the only issue that needs attention.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety can be caused by events from our past, life in the present, or worries about the future. The causes of anxiety are as varied as we are!
Events from the past can be experienced as traumas – emotionally upsetting situations that are hard to come to terms with. Such events can instil in our minds a belief that we are not safe. Our mind and nervous system can then get stuck in fear – always on alert for the next disaster.
Life in the present can often get out of control. If we are overworked at our jobs, over scheduled due to work and family, not getting enough alone time to recharge, eating poorly, going through breakups, divorce or relationship stress, then we can be thrown into anxiety. The human mind is designed to solve problems, and all biological systems (including the human body) seeks homeostasis, or balance. When we have a current life situation out of balance, the mind can continually spin and spin looking for a way to achieve balance. When we don’t take action to do so, or are unable to do so, the constant state of stress and frustration can develop into anxiety.
Worries about the future are similar to having problems we can’t solve. We can’t foretell the future, nor can we control it. If we can not come to terms with the fact that the future holds a mysterious unknown narrative, we can spend a lot of time worrying about it. Worrying is the mind trying to solve an intractable problem. Since there is no solution, there is long-term stress. When the nervous system is in an extended state of stress, it can get stuck there – and this is anxiety.
How does hypnotherapy heal anxiety?
Hypnotherapy meets you wherever you are. Regardless of the source of your anxiety, hypnotherapy can bring you back to peace and calm.
For events from the past, hypnotherapy is used to help the mind file away the past into the past, where it belongs. Anxiety happens when the mind erroneously extends past experiences into the present and projects them into the future, assuming that the initial threat is still present and will be present in the future.
For life in the present, hypnotherapy offers a way to move into alternative perspectives, change what you are focusing on, or change your priorities. A hypnotherapist can also teach you self-hypnosis to learn to calm the mind and body. By being able to access a calm state of mind through self-hypnosis, calmer perspectives arrive naturally. For life in the present anxiety, sometimes the change that needs to happen is inside of you, and sometimes a lifestyle change is needed to bring you into more balance.
For worries about the future, hypnotherapy is powerful at changing what your mind is focusing on. Optimism can be learned. Trust can be learned. Faith and hope can be learned. A bigger picture perspective can be adopted. Hypnosis is a powerful state where the mind is malleable and impressionable to new, more emotionally supportive and resilient perspectives.
How do I book a session?
Andrew Gentile is a Certified Hypnotherapist available for private sessions for clients in the San Francisco Bay Area by Skype, Google Hangouts, or telephone.
You can browse my website for more information and if you have remaining questions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 647-522-0155.
What studies have been done?
Here are a few abstracts of research articles that have shown the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing anxiety.
Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 Feb;10(2):263-73. .
Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety- and stress-related disorders.
Self-hypnosis training represents a rapid, cost-effective, nonaddictive and safe alternative to medication for the treatment of anxiety-related conditions. Here we provide a review of the experimental literature on the use of self-hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety and stress-related disorders, includinganxiety associated with cancer, surgery, burns and medical/dental procedures. An overview of research is also provided with regard to self-hypnotic treatment of anxiety-related disorders, such as tension headaches, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. The tremendous volume of research provides compelling evidence that hypnosis is an efficacious treatment for state anxiety (e.g., prior to tests, surgery and medical procedures) and anxiety-related disorders, such as headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.
The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery [1997, 38(1):69-75]
Self-hypnosis reduces anxiety following coronary artery bypass surgery. A prospective, randomized trial.
Ashton C Jr, Whitworth GC, Seldomridge JA, Shapiro PA, Weinberg AD, Michler RE, Smith CR, Rose EA,Fisher S, Oz MC
Department of Surgery, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
RESULTS: Patients who were taught self-hypnosis relaxation techniques were significantly more relaxed postoperatively compared to the control group (p=0.032). Pain medication requirements were also significantly less in patients practising the self-hypnosis relaxation techniques than those who were noncompliant (p=0.046).
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the beneficial effects self-hypnosis relaxation techniques on patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.
The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 101, Issue 6 , Pages 1032-1035, December 1982
Hypnosis and nonhypnotic techniques for reduction of pain and anxiety during painful procedures in children and adolescents with cancer
Richard W. Olmsted (Editor), M.D., Lonnie Zeltzer, Ph.D., Samuel LeBaron
Hypnosis was compared with nonhypnotic behavioral techniques for efficacy in reducting pain and anxiety in 27 children and adolescents during bone marrow aspiration and in 22 children and adolescents during lumbar puncture. The patients and independent observers each rated (scale of 1 to 5) pain and anxiety during one to three procedures prior to intervention and one to three procedures with intervention. Prior to intervention for both groups, pain during bone marrow aspiration was rated as more severe (P<0.01) than pain during lumbar puncture. During bone marrow aspiration pain was reduced to a large extent by hypnosis (P<0.001) and to a smaller but significant extent by nonhypnotic techniques (P<0.01), and anxiety was significantly reduced by hypnosis alone (P<0.001). During lumbar puncture only hypnosis significantly reduced pain (P<0.001); anxiety was reduced to a large degree by hypnosis (P<0.001) and to a smaller degree by nonhypnotic techniques (P<0.05). Thus hypnosis was shown to be more effective than nonhypnotic techniques for reducing procedural distress in children and adolescents with cancer.
What have my clients with anxiety experienced?
Most of my clients find a significant reduction in their anxiety after a single session. Here are some examples of client feedback I have received:
A lawyer who experienced anxiety before speaking in Court, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I can say that I experienced an improvement in my anxiety. Had a big matter in Court the other day and was not as nervous as in previous times.”
A student who experienced test anxiety in the past, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I am noticing an increase in confidence when reviewing my study materials. My mantra since Tuesday has been “I know this!” and “I will pass this test this time!” It has felt good to see this boost in feeling positive since our meeting.“
and then, a week later: “I listened to the recording of our session together earlier today and have felt a renewed sense of determination and motivation.”
A corporate employee who experienced anxiety when having to speak at meetings, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I do feel a definite ease in meetings so that’s a step in the right direction.”
A young man struggling with anxiety and panic attacks related to childhood traumas, after a single hypnotherapy session: “Thank you for the hypnotherapy yesterday!! I felt immensely at ease, safe, calm and collected. Your melodious voice / skill set does wonders.”
A young woman struggling with anxiety attacks, after a single hypnotherapy session: “Thank you for the session–I found it helpful for the rest of the night. Still some mild anxiety attacks today, but it’s become easier to catch my breath and breathe deeply when they happen.“
A professional man who had anxiety related insomnia and overeating, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I slept amazing last night. Thanks Andrew.“ and then a week later: “Feeling pretty good. I am definitely cutting down on my portions and doing less snacking.“
A professional woman who had anxiety that was affecting her sleep, work and relationship with her spouse, after a single hypnotherapy session: “I have felt the affects of our session. In particular, I’ve noticed a tendency to take deep breaths as my body starts to tighten in a moment of stress. The deep breathing loosens my muscles and calms me. I’ve also noticed some change in thought patterns. For some reason that seems to be especially true when I start to get upset and angry with certain people. I start to be able to detach my own feelings a bit more and see how to present the situation to them in a way that is not as overly emotional. This seems to be related to some of the work we did around understanding how my mother expressed her love to me.
“I haven’t been waking up at night in a state of anxiety but I still feel anxious at times before I go to sleep. I’d say my anxiety has definitely lessoned, though it hasn’t gone away. There still feel like there are some edges.”
A professional man who was having sexual anxiety that was causing erectile dysfunction. This was his feedback one week after a single hypnotherapy session: “Couple of observations from the last week. Definitely not thinking about the dysfunctions as much. I came to that realization this afternoon when I had a thought about it. I will get a chance to test things out tonight so we’ll see. I am finding there is less anxiety around it for tonight at least. Some other changes I noticed, a bit of a more relaxed confidence which may be in conjunction with the lower anxiety. The feeling of making some progress as well. That helps with the whole circle of anxiety and confidence etc etc.“
A female artist in her 30s who was having anxiety-related insomnia. This was her feedback a couple of days after a single hypnotherapy session: “Thank you for taking such good care of me! A second restful night. Thank you, thank you.”
A female exotic dancer who was having panic attacks: “I feel a million times better thanks to you and I realized I do create fears for myself which I would like to work on sometime soon.“
A young woman whose insecurities and anxiety caused her to be jealous and untrusting with her boyfriend. This feedback was from a week after a single hypnotherapy session: “I’ve noticed lately that the things that would normally make me angry or blow my stack, don’t irritate me that much anymore. I get upset but I don’t blow up, I’m just slightly annoyed and laugh about it. A while after we saw you a girl came up to us and started talking to my boyfriend about our rottweiler. My boyfriend was surprised because I didn’t get jealous at all – I was cool when before I would get overly jealous.. It was such an amazing experience that I’ve been talking about it to everyone and recommending you to everyone 🙂 Thank you again Andrew! You are amazing!”
A middle-aged woman who was having anxiety related insomnia and obsessive negative thoughts, after a single hypnotherapy session: “i felt really quite positive the rest of sat. night, even despite some bummer developments, and finally started feeling better about sleep–slept lots of sunday and feel more on track now with less of the anxious spinning mind, more hope about and gratitude for anticipating more ease/less stress. yay! thanks very much“
A father and career man who was having anxiety and cycling negative thoughts. This feedback was from two days after a single hypnotherapy session: “Sunday and yesterday I felt like one of those aphasia patients from the movie Awakening. Truly miraculous! great day with family and at work yesterday.“