How Effective is Hypnosis in helping anxiety?

Nov 25, 2020Anxiety

How Effective is Hypnosis in helping anxiety?

Are you feeling stressed, anxious or have you started to worry a lot?

Feeling tense and anxious are negative feelings that most people experience at some time in their lives so finding effective solutions is important.

Perhaps you have had a panic attack.

You dread another one.

Are you someone who hates to take tablets and would prefer to use self-help treatments?

Maybe now you are wondering if hypnotherapy is the right treatment for you?

Hypnosis might be a solution that you have not considered before because you don’t know much about it and you are not sure how effective it is.

You are not alone.

So let me start by explaining anxiety before looking at the evidence.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a fear or apprehension about something. It affects us all at some time. Its exact cause is unknown but it is believed to be related to genetic and environmental factors. It’s about survival. It can be related to stressful events but not everyone knows why they feel anxious.

An anxiety disorder is an anxiety response that lasts over three months and is diagnosed by a doctor.

Many people suffer from a range of anxiety disorders. When anxiety results in problems with everyday activities it can lead to negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

This can include anything from mild anxious feelings, fears, phobias, test anxiety, fear of public speaking and much more.

According to the American Psychological Association

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

How do people know if they are suffering from anxiety?

Anxiety can cause unexplained physical problems such as tension, panic attacks, digestive problems, headaches, dry mouth etc.

Anxiety can result in psychological problems such as worrying a lot, negative thinking, changes in mood and low confidence and self-esteem.

Anxiety can cause behavioural problems such as eating and drinking too much alcohol, difficulty doing the things that you used to do such as hobbies, or difficulty socialising.

Anyone who thinks that they are not feeling their usual self or can identify with any of the above for weeks or more should get a health check with their doctor because occasionally anxiety may be linked to medication or other illness.

Can hypnotherapy help with anxiety?

Yes, all qualified hypnotherapists can help people with anxiety to reduce the physical tension, to change the negative emotions and develop a sense of wellbeing.

According to Anxiety UK

Hypnosis allows you to experience often quite deep levels of relaxation and so helps to reduce levels of stress and anxiety.

How effective is hypnosis in helping with anxiety?

There are many research studies that have used hypnosis as a standalone or adjunct to psychotherapy to help people with anxiety. Although some studies have stated that more quality research is needed there is a growing body of research supporting hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety.

Hypnosis helps people to relax and positive suggestions are delivered to help people get out of a vicious cycle of worry and avoidance so difficulties.  Although a variety of different hypnotic techniques can be used the aim is to help people desensitise and to reframe the problem so feel better.

One of the leading researchers in hypnosis and anxiety is Dr Corydon Hammond. In his paper in 2010, he reviewed the literature on self-hypnosis to aid anxiety related to cancer treatment, surgery, dental treatment, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. He highlights that the most fundamental aspect of hypnosis is the focused attention. He states that

Self-hypnosis training represents a rapid, cost-effective, nonaddictive and safe alternative to
medication for the treatment of anxiety-related conditions.

Hypnotherapists can teach you self-hypnosis and may offer audio recordings of hypnotherapy.

More recently, Valentine, Milling, Clark and Moriarty 2019 reviewed the efficacy of hypnosis as a treatment for anxiety through a meta-analysis. They reviewed research with control groups for comparisons.

They stated that

…the average participant treated with hypnosis improved more than about 84% of control participants.

Sometimes hypnosis is used with other treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or desensitization.

According to Valentine et al 2019

Hypnosis was more effective in reducing anxiety when combined with other psychological interventions than when used as a stand-alone treatment.

Can hypnosis help anxiety triggered by non-medical issues?

Yes, hypnosis can help people with anxiety related to stressful situations.

A paper by Shoenberger, Kirsch, Gearan, Montgomery, and Pastyrnack 1997 showed that hypnosis can help people who are anxious about public speaking. They compared Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and hypnosis.  The results showed that the combined group had a better result.

Although they only reviewed five small studies, Baker, Ainsworth, Torgerson and Torgerson (2009) found that hypnosis helped to reduce exam anxiety.

A similar result was found from recent randomised control study carried out by Linda Witchell from Awaken the Change on the reduction of test anxiety for university students. (Awaiting publication).

In conclusion, hypnosis can be effective in helping with anxiety. There is evidence that suggests that using hypnosis with CBT can be more effective in some cases.

Linda at Awaken the Change specialises in helping people with anxiety to feel so much better. She often uses a combined treatment of hypnosis and CBT. Contact Linda for a free initial consultation.


Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
Share This