Relief from Depression Using Hypnosis Shown in Research by Jane Ann Covington

(c) Jane Ann Covington, 2012

Depression is more common than most people realize and is a serious problem in the United States.  Worldwide, depression affects about 121 million people and is a leading cause of disability.  Of course, everyone is sad and suffers loss from time to time, but depression is different and most often relentless, caused by external circumstances, a contributor to PTS (post traumatic stress) or the perception of a life event(s).  Depression can be due to our perception of others, self, coupled with a lack of coping skills of an actual or perceived life circumstance(s).  Depression can be somewhat short-term or when it becomes chronic is called clinical depression.

Symptoms of Depression:  Can be low level, but frequent, or severe, intense with unrelenting feelings typically felt over a period of time with little, if any, relief.

  1. loss of hope or feelings of hopelessness
  2. loss of courage
  3. dejection
  4. feelings of inadequacy
  5. worthlessness
  6. self-criticism
  7. lack of energy
  8. difficulty maintaining concentration
  9. difficulty in maintaining interest in life.
  10. interfere with thoughts
  11. self-loathing
  12. interfere with appropriate life-affirming behaviors
  13. negative or hopeless moods
  14. inactivity
  15. poor physical health (according to World Health Organization (WHO).

I would add from my many years of experience with thousands of clients with depression and anxiety that moods and emotional feelings often include anger, excessive irritability, short-temper, guilt, blame, anxiety, hurt, scared or fearful, frustration, overwhelm, distrust of self, persons or environment, feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, can’t control negative thoughts no matter how hard you try, taking over your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to eat or you can’t stop eating, unexplained aches and pains, consuming more alcohol than usual, engaging in reckless behavior, can’t sleep or sleep too much, can’t work, study, move forward, have fun, and have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek immediate help if you are in this state), or men in particular may even feel aggressive, restless, and anger.

When medication (along with negative side effects from meds) and traditional therapeutic options, such as psychiatry, psychology, behavioral therapy, or even cognitive behavioral therapy have not resolved the pattern or helped those with depression, many of those suffering with depression feel even more distraught with frustration, anger, anxiety, lower self esteem, inadequacy, and utter exhaustion.

Depressed people often seek out “alternative” options for relief, e.g., alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, addictions to all kinds of behaviors or patterns (e.g., sex, shopping, neediness, hoarding), withdrawal from social or emotional support, including alternative potentially dangerous life styles that only enhance the downward spiral and, at best, temporarily mask the depression.

However, those that feel there “must be a better way” explore and sometimes find their way to the option of hypnosis.  With an effective, experienced hypnotist or clinical hypnotherapy you may finally get the relief you’ve been seeking for so long.

It is often said that depression is repressed anger.  I find with a good many of my clients that underneath depression are perhaps even deeper issues such as anxiety, fears, a sense of helplessness, in addition to anger or irritability, often unconsciously and sometimes consciously since childhood.

Research is shining the light on hypnosis and hypnotherapy as a potential benefit when helping people with depression.  An example of using hypnosis with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for a wide range of conditions, including depression, hypnosis improved effectiveness by better than 75%, when compared with those who did not receive hypnosis.  (Kirsch, Montgomery & Saperstein, 1995).

A well respected researcher, Michael Yapko, MD, (Yapko, 2006) has proposed that hypnosis has relevance in treatment of depression because:

  1. hypnosis can help build positive expectancy
  2. hypnosis can address numerous depressive symptoms
  3. hypnosis can help improve sleep
  4. hypnosis can help stop rumination
  5. hypnosis can modify patterns of self-organization
  6. hypnosis can help change perception
  7. hypnosis, along with educating the client or patient on how to use their brain / mind more appropriately and effectively, can help improve cognitive responses
  8. hypnosis and help improve emotional responses of self, others, and life
  9. hypnosis can provide options for new ways of thinking and options for living
  10. hypnosis can help change thinking and moods

The overall lack of treatment outcome research on hypnosis in Universities for various psychiatric disorders, including depression, has been recognized by Kirsch, Lynn & Rhue, 1993;  Schoenberger, 2000.  However, the effectiveness of well done hypnosis is increasingly being studied and included in new treatment plans, sometimes along side more traditional psychiatric, psychological, and behavioral styles of therapy.

From my more than 37 years experience in working with depressed and/or anxious clients, I have found that frequently these two internal responses, among others, to life are intricately linked together.  As an example, if you are anxious long enough, and anticipatory anxiety sets in as a prevalent pattern, after a while, not having skills or getting the help you need, you will tend to become even more depressed and anxious.  The question becomes:  which one came first?  It’s the old chicken and the egg question.  But it doesn’t matter because there is help for both.

These seemingly separate patterns most often become clearly intertwined when a good interview is taken, and as already noted, turns into a cycle of an unhealthy life style, addiction, withdrawal, low emotional and/or social intelligence, inability to focus, learn, move forward successfully.  These clients often report shame, loneliness, self-criticism, insomnia, habitual worry, “not good enough,” fear of making mistakes, perfectionism, feeling unlovable, unloved – starting with self, and extending to their relationships both at home and at work – even with many who are financially successful.  We’ve learned that money is good, but money alone doesn’t fix depression!  Something else needs to occur; another form of support or alternative methods of transformation such as well done hypnosis needs to be provided.

My experience with thousands of clients is that there is more than hope for those who struggle with depression using effective hypnosis, clinical hypnotherapy, coaching, education about how your mind works and how to work it better;  it’s way more than being told “just change the way you’re thinking!”  Hypnosis, coaching, and getting down to the root core patterns that are often the unconscious driving force behind being stuck in depression can often be an effective key to transformation into greater health and well-being.

Hypnosis and hypnotherapy, along with education, and coaching for new perspectives and behavioral changes, have long been an effective option for a healthier you, and has most often provided true and lasting behavioral change.  Given that nothing is 100% effective for everyone, well done hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be done as a stand alone form of alternative therapy, or become a viable complimentary asset to more traditional therapy such as psychotherapy and psychiatry when they practitioners work together for the greater good of the patient / client.

References:

Kirsch, I, Lynn, SJ, Rhue, JW.  Introduction to Clinical Hypnosis.  In:  Rhue JW, Lynn SJ, Kirsch I, editors.  Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis.  Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association; 1993. pp. 3-22.

Kirsch, I, Montgomery G, Sapirstein G.  Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy:  A Meta-Analysis.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  1995;  63:  214-220.

Landes SJ.  Functional Analytic Psychotherapy for Comorbid Depression and Personality Disorders (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 2008)  Dissertation Abstracts International.  2008;  69:  3852.

Lankton SR.  Four Brief Hypnotic Interventions in the Treatment of Depression.  In:  Yapko MD, editor.  Hypnosis and Treating Depression:  Applications in Clinical Practice.  New York:  Routledge;  2006. pp. 25-47.

Lazarus AA.  Hypnosis as a Facilitator in Behavior Therapy.  International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.  1973;  21:  25-31.

Lazarus AA.  A Multimodal Framework for Clinical Hypnosis.  In:  Kirsch I, Capafons A, Cardena-Buelna E, Amigo S, editors.  Clinical Hypnosis and Self-Regulation:  Cognitive-Behavioral Perspectives.  Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association;  1999. pp. 181-210.

McCann, Barbara S. and Landes, Sara J, Hypnosis in the Treatment of Depression:  Considerations in Research Design and Methods, Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2010 April; 58(2):  147-164.

World Health Organization.  Depression.  Available at http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/.  Accessed April 20, 2012.

Yapko MD.  Hypnosis in Treating Symptoms and Risk Factors of Major Depression.  In:  Yapko MD, editor.  Hypnosis and Treating Depression:  Applications in Clinical Practice.  New York:  Routledge;  2006. pp. 3-24.

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