About 18.1 percent of adults 18 and older have an anxiety disorder. If you have a panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or one or two phobias, you’re not alone: You can find company with the 40 million adults in the U.S. who struggle with some form of anxiety. There are multiple methods to treat anxiety, from mainstream to alternative. Talk therapy is perhaps the most popular mainstream treatment. And while talk therapy proves effective for some, others are in need for alternative therapies. Acupuncture, reflexology, and aromatherapy represent the various unconventional, but efficient treatments. But perhaps the most misunderstood of alternative anxiety treatments is hypnotherapy.
Despite its development into a mainstream alternative medicine, hypnosis is dismissed as a form of entertainment. But for hypnotist Ava Evans, who has seen first-hand how the therapy can change lives, hypnosis is much more than a stage performance. Certified hypnotherapists like Evans can treat everything from addiction to trauma all by reaching the subconscious through induced hypnotic states.
Understanding a trance state is foundational to understanding how hypnosis works. For hypnosis to work, the hypnotherapist must put the patient in a “trance state” or a state of mental and physical relaxation. During the trance state the conscious mind—the part of your mind that’s reading this—is encouraged to rest while the subconscious mind comes to the forefront. It is in a trance state that your mind is most susceptible to suggestions.
The conscious mind is the part of your brain that houses your awareness—your ability to experience, to feel, to have a sense of selfhood. The subconscious houses all of your memories, beliefs, and emotions. Because the elements that most influence who you are as an individual are found in the subconscious, hypnotists access the hidden corners of your mind to help make positive changes and attitudes. The newfound positive thoughts and beliefs that exist in your subconscious mind eventually manifest into your consciousness.
Several physical traits occur during an active trance state, including:
- Decreased heart rate
- Muscle relaxation
- Rapid eye movement
- Slow, deep breaths
- Calm relaxed speaking
The relaxed environment trance offers a safe treatment for anxiety. But for most people struggling with an anxiety disorder, the image of relaxing in a trance state is hard to envision. Reaching a trance state might require practice, but regardless of how far you think you are from achieving trance, your conscious and subconscious minds are always listening. The desire to be helped with be realized when you find the right hypnotherapist who makes you feel comfortable.
According to Evans, there are mainly three anxiety-related issues she and other hypnotherapists regularly address.
Constant or frequent anxiety can result in an uneasy emotional state. The energy exerted to create symptoms of anxiety accompanied by ongoing feelings of worry can make an anxious person exhausted and on age. In this case, hypnotism’s purpose is to replace negative beliefs with positive thoughts, thereby altering a worrying individual’s state of mind. Thus, a hypnotherapist’s approach to emotional strain may focus on introducing the belief that the patient is confident and content in their ability to resolve their struggles with anxiety.
Instances of physical discomfort are often overlooked symptoms o f anxiety. It may come as no surprise that physical strain is a result of emotional stress. When approaching a patient’s physical pain, they hypnotherapist will often work with them to sort out the triggers for your anxiety. The more frequent the patient’s anxiety is triggered, the more they experience the manifestations of physical strain—rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and shaking. After the hypnotherapist has altered the patient’s perception of their triggers, the patient will feel more at ease. Another approach to treating physical strain includes planting the suggestion that the patient feels more physically comfortable than they do.
Whether it’s insomnia, recurring nightmares, or muscle tension keeping patients up all night, it is not uncommon for people with anxiety to have difficulties sleeping. Hypnotists can remedy sleep deprivation by suggesting that the patient has recently had a restful night of sleep.
If you struggle with anxiety, find out if hypnosis is right for you. Whether you struggle with insomnia, phobias, or general anxiety, hypnotherapy might just be the cure you’ve been looking for.