Skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, alopecia, herpes, and excessive itching or sweating are often linked with stress, anxiety, shame, and discomfort. While there are a number of treatments for these conditions, the trial and error process of finding the right remedy aggravates the stress and discomfort associated with skin conditions. Hypnosis can alleviate some of this distress and promote healing in chronic skin problems.
Many skin conditions involve inflammation that is only made worse by negative emotional states. When the sympathetic nervous system is active and you have fear, increasing breathing and heart rate, and extra vigilance, the body releases chemicals that trigger inflammation and can cause skin conditions to flare. Hypnosis allows you to relax and spend more time calm and resting, which slows down inflammatory processes and promotes healing.
In addition, hypnotic suggestions can improve emotional distress such as anxiety and shame, while also reducing physical discomfort. If your skin disorder is accompanied by pain or itching, hypnosis can lessen pain and help you stop absentmindedly itching.
If your child has asthma, you know that it can be distressing and disruptive to daily life. Between avoiding triggers and making sure medications are always on hand—not to mention treating related conditions like allergies—asthma is a stressful diagnosis. This stress can exacerbate symptoms and be hard to address, which is where hypnosis shines as an adjunct treatment.
Hypnotic relaxation can be taught to an asthmatic child to help them regulate emotions during and outside of attacks. Children can use this technique to relax whenever they get particularly upset or during an asthma attack to avoid exacerbating the symptoms. When done consistently, self-hypnosis can increase the patient’s confidence in managing symptoms and emotions—even reduce the need for medication. Hypnosis can also address fear of future asthma attacks.
Not being able to breathe is scary for anyone—especially for children who have to rely on adults to administer their medicines. This fear disrupts daily life for child and parent alike. Hypnosis can improve overall quality of life as well as asthma symptoms.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in our society and treatment often requires a lot of trial and error. Depression is commonly treated with a variety of medications, supplements, and therapy, but these treatments can take 6-12 weeks to show any improvement. Hypnosis is a valuable supplement to these options to cover the times when treatment isn’t working and prevent relapses.
Depressed people often experience a high degree of anxiety, troublesome physical symptoms, and negative self-perceptions that hypnosis can relieve. Relaxation is at the core of hypnosis and can be taught relatively quickly to alleviate anxiety and improve sleep. Hypnotic suggestions can also be used to strengthen self-esteem and motivation, which tend to be low in depressed patients, and to expand awareness of emotions beyond the negative. Most importantly, the process of hypnosis shows patients the power of their own mind and instills hope that their depression can be treated.
If you have a phobia, you probably know how tricky they can make everyday life. An irrational fear of something specific, a phobia causes significant stress and anxiety that prompts a person to avoid the thing they fear as much as possible. People with phobias spend a lot of time thinking about the thing they fear, which in turn causes anxiety and in some cases negative health consequences.
Fortunately, hypnosis offers a solution to those with phobias. During hypnosis the body feels relaxed and comfortable, making it easier to handle thoughts about the phobia. Over multiple sessions a hypnotherapist can help you imagine the thing you’re afraid of with increasing specificity while pairing the images with sensations and images of relaxation, eventually teaching your body and mind to respond with calm instead of anxiety.
Hypnosis can also remind you of the previous instances in your life in which you had safe encounters with the source of the phobia: for instance, all the times you saw a spider on the wall but weren’t harmed. The process is often more comfortable than exposure therapy and gives you the confidence to manage or eliminate the phobia.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive tract illnesses in our society, yet it’s difficult to treat. Symptoms include chronic or intermittent abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea, and can be so severe that they limit a person’s ability to work. IBS is often accompanied by anxiety about when and how symptoms will strike and affect the person’s life. Medications and therapies such as counseling and biofeedback provide limited benefits to patients. Hypnosis may be more helpful.
Hypnosis reduces abdominal pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, and anxiety in IBS patients. In a variety of studies, people who were treated with hypnosis showed more overall improvement in symptoms and general well-being than those who were treated with medications or talk therapy alone. Those who had to stop working or reduce their hours due to IBS were likelier to return to work. These benefits lasted for years after the hypnosis sessions were completed.
Preparing for labor can be a stressful time for an expecting mother, as she tries to learn techniques to make the process easier and looks forward to taking her baby home. Studies show that hypnosis can vastly increase a woman’s comfort in the anxious months leading up to labor—even make labor itself easier.
In an experiment where some women had hypnosis at weeks 16, 20, 28, and 36 of pregnancy in addition to their regular medical care, researchers found that these women performed better before, during, and after labor than those who did not receive hypnosis. The sessions were aimed at relaxing the pelvic muscles, decreasing anxiety, and instilling a sense of positivity regarding labor and the postpartum period. Women who attended the four hypnosis sessions and practiced hypnosis at home had less anxiety before labor and less depression, anxiety, and fatigue after labor. None of them opted for epidurals or C-sections either, and women who practiced hypnosis felt more confident and in control of labor pains than those without hypnosis who opted for epidurals or C-sections.
Sedation during surgery is important but poses risks when it comes to medication dosage and reactions. With outpatient surgeries on the rise, especially in dental offices, hypnosis can be considered as an alternative or addition to anesthesia.
In one study where patients listened to hypnosis recordings or music during a surgery, the group who were hypnotized needed less medication during the surgery to stay sedated, used fewer pain medications during the recovery process, and had less postoperative pain. Customized, individually tailored hypnosis recordings provide the best results, but even a general recording improves the surgical experience and reduces the risks associated with higher doses of anesthesia and pain medications during and after a surgery. In addition to reducing risk, hypnosis can lessen the cost of sedation and provide an alternative for those with allergies or sensitivities to medications that would otherwise make surgery more difficult.
Hot flashes affect most women at some point, whether during natural menopause or following treatment for breast or other cancers. Night sweats and flushing can be difficult to treat with medication, but hypnosis can provide a natural, non-pharmaceutical therapy for the problem.
During hypnosis, the doctor can suggest images of coolness and relaxation tied to episodes of flushing or hot flashes. These suggestions can be designed to resurface while sleeping if the hot flashes or night sweats are interrupting sleep, and they can be paired with imagery of a safe space if the symptoms are causing considerable stress or anxiety. In studies, women who received hypnosis with or without medication showed a 50% or greater reduction in hot flashes. This can be especially relevant if there’s an intolerance to medication or if other therapies for hot flashes fail.
Did you know that hypnosis could help you learn a second language?
Learning another language is no small feat, especially later in life. You need to know approximately 2,000 words in a language to hold basic conversations and form a strong base for learning more, and to achieve mastery of a language you need to understand about 95% of the words you encounter. Remembering that many vocabulary words takes time and repetition, but the learning process could be made easier with hypnosis.
Research suggests that our memory is impacted by factors such as stress, anxiety, frustration, and boredom. Learning new words and concepts under any of these conditions impairs memory formation and retention, which is where hypnosis comes in. Studies show that undergoing hypnosis and hearing suggestions to become relaxed, motivated, and focused significantly improved short- and long-term memory of new words in a second language.
If you really want to acquire a new language, hypnosis might be a valuable tool to speed the learning process.
At some point everyone experiences pain, and most of us want it to stop ASAP, which is why pain medications are so widely used. Medications are effective in one sense: they dampen the physical sensation of pain by interrupting neurological signals from the body to the brain. But often they fail to mitigate the fear or anxiety that comes along with pain.
Hypnosis, on the other hand, has been shown to effectively relieve pain and anxiety—especially the anxiety that often accompanies a chronic illness, when we may fear that every new ache, no matter how unconnected, could represent a worsening of the disease.
Two hypnosis techniques can improve the experience of pain. In sensory transformation, the patient accepts the pain and transforms it by focusing on other stimuli in the environment. In sensory accommodation, you imagine the source of the pain as something more pleasant than what it actually is. Imagining that a hot sensation arose from a pleasant day of sunbathing can reduce the fear and anxiety associated with that particular type of pain, for example.
Why does this work? Stanford researchers have determined that hypnosis physically changes activity and connections in parts of the brain that control pain. With continued practice, these changes become more permanent and reduce overall pain levels.
Narcotics and suffering are not the only two ways to deal with pain. Hypnosis offers a safe and effective alternative.