Hypnotherapy and Anxiety
At the beginning of this week there was a news item about the prevalence of anxiety (apparently 4% in this part of the world), how it is under recognised and how debilitating it can be. This was followed up by a phone in on Radio 4's You and Yours. Both are worth looking at.
I find anxiety and anxiety related issues make up a very large portion of my work. Every other enquiry seems to include an anxious element. Someone came to me recently who had been anxious for over 20 years, with a feeling of impending doom for much of the time. Another wanted help for social anxiety and excruciating self-consciousness. Another still felt anxious about certain aspects of their work.
All were helped enormously by a few sessions of hypnotherapy and I will come back to that later.
The findings reported in the news article certainly ring true. When someone is affected by chronic anxiety it can be life changing. It can keep you indoors, it can prevent you working or fulfilling your potential, it can deprive you of a social life, it can drive your family to distraction because there is so much you cannot seem to do. It also affects you physiologically – callers to You and Yours sufferers reported feeling exhausted by the raised heart rate and other symptoms which go with a state of constant hypervigilance.
Professor Ian Robertson said in You and Yours that one of the problems of designating anxiety as a disease is that it becomes something that happens to you rather than something which is a result of an internal process and that, with the right help, you could potentially influence.
So what can hypnotherapy do? Well, just the relaxation that goes with learning hypnosis is extremely beneficial. Proper relaxation gives everything the chance to calm down. It helps you rest by reducing your heart rate and regulating your breathing. So you tend to feel less stressed. When you are more relaxed you are able to process information more easily so that you are less likely to catastrophise an event which might have you climbing the wall in more anxious times.
Your hypnotherapist can give useful suggestions while you are relaxed, introducing to your mind the possibility of beneficial change. If you work with an Advanced Hypnotherapist you might discover that the anxiety is founded on a past event that is totally irrelevant now. Or you might work with more positive resources that can be marshalled at those times when in past you have reacted anxiously. The point is that the subconscious mind, where, as a hypnotherapist, I would say that the anxiety is lodged, usually knows what the problem is and what can be done to resolve it. It just can’t do it alone. It needs help to change its ‘programming’ so that it can work properly again for you.
So what happened with those clients? The one with the feeling of impending doom realised it was because they had felt overwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby all those year ago – they are now beginning to move forward with their life. The client with social anxiety had been bullied at a formative age. Once that was cleared they were able to start being more outgoing.
And the one with the work issue? Well they realised that they were anxious when they had a lot on their mind and were about to commence a challenging piece of work which entailed some physical danger. When we looked into this it became apparent that their anxiety was actually trying to keep them safe, telling them that they shouldn’t do something dangerous (which required a great deal of concentration) when they were preoccupied by other demands.
So, to summarise, hypnotherapy can help you relax and aims also to understand and alleviate the symptoms and the cause of the anxiety. As I say to all my clients, I cannot guarantee the result for any one individual, any more than any other intervention, medical or otherwise. But if you are fed up with feeling anxious and don’t seem to be getting anywhere it is certainly worth exploring what can be done in just a few sessions with a properly qualified and experienced hypnotherapist.