Can Hypnotherapy Reduce Depression and Anxiety?
People regularly speak about depression and anxiety together. Although they have overlapping symptoms and can intensify or aggravate each other, they are very different conditions. Anxiety is a nervous feeling. You’re on edge, and your body wants to run away or fight. You can’t stop the worry you feel, which with generalised anxiety, is about different things. It’s hard to sit and relax, and you’re irritable, becoming easily annoyed.
Depression is a feeling of hopelessness. You have little interest in doing things and cannot find pleasure in much if anything. You feel exhausted, and this is sometimes observed physically as you move slowly. Some people experience suicidal thoughts with depression. If anxiety restricts your life, you may find feelings of depression start to creep in.
Your therapist will personalise your therapy, so your symptoms do not have to tick the relevant boxes for you to benefit. Restlessness, sleep difficulties, and problems with concentration are common overlapping symptoms of anxiety and depression that hypnotherapy helps reduce. Below are some ideas for you to put into practice at home, so you can feel more relaxed, less anxious, and reduce some symptoms of depression.
Restlessness is a feature of both anxiety and depression. However, sometimes depression causes the opposite, so you speak and move more slowly than usual. If you find anxiety or depression cause you to feel restless, hypnosis at home will help. Hypnosis is a learned skill. Although a hypnotist will guide you into the state of hypnosis during your hypnotherapy sessions, it is something you can practice and become better at. When you do so, it becomes very quick to switch into hypnosis, so you can use it regularly throughout your day.
To create a feeling of calm stillness throughout your body, use a progressive relaxation. It is ideal to make yourself comfortable before you begin. Although many people like to lay down, if you’re liable to fall asleep, use a chair or even better an exercise ball, which helps with comfort, posture control and hopefully wakefulness! If you have time restrictions, set an alarm to take this worry from your mind. Close your eyes and travel through all the parts of your body, from tip to toe, relaxing each part as you do so. Some people like to actively tense and then relax each muscle to enhance the feeling of relaxation. When you finish your journey, spend as much time as you wish, enjoying the feeling of peace.
Trouble Falling Asleep
Trouble falling or staying asleep is a symptom of depression that pops up on the PHQ-9 depression questionnaire, but not on the GAD-7 (generalised anxiety disorder) questionnaire. However, I know through conversations with many people who experience feelings of anxiety that it is something they experience. Lack of sleep can cause anxiety, so when I work with someone experiencing sleep difficulties and anxiety, we discuss sleep hygiene to ensure we have things the right way round. My blog post here will help you check whether there is something you can do to improve your sleep before tackling anxiety.
You’ll know your own sleep difficulty pattern, for some people it goes like this. You get into bed after a busy day, ready to get some sleep and reenergise for tomorrow. As soon as your head hits the pillow, the thoughts pop in, initially one by one, but quickly your mind is a whirlwind. Anxiety about what happened throughout your day, worries about tomorrow. Before long, you’re ruminating on something that happened a year ago. You desperately try to shut the thoughts away, but they force the lock every time. As the hours pass, your feelings become a mixture of frustration that you can’t sleep, anger that you can’t even get this right, and fear about what will happen tomorrow when your alarm goes off and you’ve not slept.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness techniques will help you take control of your thoughts, so you can easily stop the wandering mind. If you choose to have some hypnotherapy sessions, your hypnotherapist will help you manage any problems, so there is less whirling around your mind in general. However, you can use mind control techniques at home to help you switch off and sleep. When you want to go to sleep tonight, try imagining yourself at the top of ten downward steps. However, you visualise this is right for you. Some people see a simple loft ladder, others an elaborate staircase leading down to something fantastic. It makes little difference to the process, and there is no expectation.
Imagine yourself slowly stepping down the steps, counting down from ten to zero as you go. Whenever you think about anything other than the steps, bring yourself back to the top. Most people need to return to the top of the staircase over and over, multiple times. You’ll need commitment, it takes practice and dedication to continue the repetitive process, but it will strengthen your brain – much like training a muscle through lifting weights. With continued practice, you’ll feel more in control of your wandering mind.