Did you realise that anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia?
On average, 1 in 4 people (1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men) will experience anxiety in their lifetime? In a 12-month period, over two million Australians experience anxiety (1).
I was astounded when I first heard that every year in Australia, approximately 14% of the population (1 in 7) experiences an anxiety disorder and nearly 3% experiences generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Nearly 6% of the population will experience GAD in their lifetime (1).
As for social phobia, approximately 10% of Australians experience this during their lifetime, and these are more likely to be women rather than men. Almost 5% of Australians experience social phobia in a 12-month period (1).
When we consider obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) approximately 3% of Australians experience this in their lifetime and approximately 2% in a 12 month period (1).
Around 12% of Australians will experience post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime (1). PTSD is not limited to those in the military and emergency services, but can also affect the rest of us. It can be caused by e.g. road accidents, prolonged exposure to extreme stress, or personal assaults. It can develop after any extremely frightening or upsetting event (e.g. where we feel that our life, or someone else’s life is in danger).
Use of hypnotherapy in helping anxiety
There are several methods used to help relieve anxiety, and one of these is hypnotherapy.
Science has now gathered proof of the effects of hypnosis on the brain. In one study at Stanford University (2), researchers scanned the brains of people while they were undergoing guided hypnosis sessions. Researchers at the School of Medicine were able to see the neural changes associated with hypnosis. They found that the brain does change while in a hypnotic state, with:-
- greater physical and emotional control
- less self-consciousness
The hypnotic state involves the conscious mind ‘taking a back seat’ (although it is still partly active, processing what is said by the therapist). This allows us to investigate thoughts, feeling and memories which are hidden from our conscious minds, and which could be the cause of the current issue. Hypnotherapy addresses the mind, body and emotions.
Hypnotherapy can be used in two ways, as suggestion therapy or hypnoanalysis. Suggestion therapy can provide prompt symptomatic relief from anxiety while the underlying issues are being investigated by hypnoanalysis during the following appointments.
Suggestion therapy: The hypnotic state allows us to respond to suggestions given during the therapy session. These suggestions would always be agreed with the clients beforehand, to ensure that they address all aspects of the issue.
For anxiety, this can be used in four ways:-
- helping us to relax. The ‘trance state’ is similar to the feeling just before we go to sleep, and is relaxing in itself even without any suggestions being given to further decrease anxiety.
- teaching us how to re-experience the relaxed state in the future by practicing self-hypnosis.
- helping us to rehearse a forthcoming event (in trance) while feeling confident and capable in that future event
- providing agreed ‘posthypnotic suggestions’ which will help us feel and act e.g. calm and confident the next time we are in that situation.
Hypnoanalysis: This approach uses the ‘trance state’ to investigate contributing factors to the anxiety such as psychological conflict, past trauma, guilt, and unhelpful beliefs that we may have hidden in our unconscious mind. This could be:-
- investigating the time that the anxiety started, by helping us to remember the activating event or trigger (which could be in our childhood)
- bringing new understanding to that event, e.g. by applying our adult perspective to the situation
- allowing us to ‘revisit’ the event in the past, and imagine ourselves behaving in the way that we would have wished to behave
If anxiety is bothering you, please contact me at Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy on 0403 932311, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free phone consultation. We can discuss your specific requirements, and there is absolutely no obligation to proceed with hypnotherapy unless you choose to do so.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.
- Williams, S.C.P. (2016). Study identifies brain areas altered during hypnotic trances. Stanford University. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/07/study-identifies-brain-areas-altered-during-hypnotic-trances.html
© Lisa Billingham, 2018