For this investigation, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of previous studies to assess the impact of hypnotic interventions on people who were diagnosed with various forms of depression.
If you are feeling depressed, you may want to consider working with a professional who offers hypnosis, according to a recent study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy (AJCH).
In all, 197 records were screened across ten studies and thirteen trials. The results showed that persons who were depressed and received some form of clinical hypnotherapy saw a 76% improvement of their symptoms when compared to those in control groups (meaning no hypnotic interventions).
“Hypnotherapy is a wonderful way to complement traditional talk counseling. Hypnotherapy can help with addiction, anxiety, and depression,” she said.
“It is considered a complementary alternative medicine and a therapy that looks deep into your true self. Unfortunately, many would say that Western medicine treats the physical symptom where hypnotherapy treats the emotional source.
Hypnotherapy includes your mind, your body, and your spirit, and usually, sessions are a few hours and deep. You get to access your inner consciousness and work through very intense emotions from a calm, relaxed place,” adds Ziskind.
How hypnotherapy is used for depression
The critical thing to bear in mind with hypnotherapy is that clinicians use it as an adjunct to therapy and not as a standalone treatment.
Using this approach, CBT and hypnosis are used to help you to feel more relaxed and boost self-esteem. Additionally, this approach encourages positive mindfulness to lift mood.
As part of therapy, unhealthy cognitions are explored and disrupted. Later, post-hypnotic suggestions are applied to reaffirm healthier ways of thinking.
Previous research on the use of hypnotherapy has demonstrated hypnotic interventions may be helpful in reducing pain and anxiety after surgery.
Other lines of research have shown hypnotherapy to be beneficial with reducing feelings of panic and fear, particularly for people with a specific phobia.
Investigators for the AJCH study state, “The findings of our meta-analysis show that hypnosis is a very effective treatment for reducing the symptoms of depression.” Additionally, they say, “Our results suggest that the efficacy of hypnosis in treating depression is comparable to that of other psychological interventions for the problem.”
The researchers encourage clinicians to give serious consideration to the use of hypnosis as part of a comprehensive approach when working with depressed clients.
As with any study, there are limitations. Scientists for this investigation point out that some of the perceived benefits related to hypnosis may be linked to a phenomenon called the expectancy theory; a $10.00 term used to describe a dynamic where a person responds in affirmatively because they expect a benefit.
Here is an example.
Let’s say you are feeling anxious. As a result, I give you a “magic glass of water” and tell you that drinking it will make you calmer. Moments later, you take a few sips and instantly feel a sense of peace.
According to the expectancy theory, because you believed drinking that water would be beneficial, you immediately felt better.
But here is the thing – does it really matter if the expectancy theory somehow influences the outcome? At the end of the day, if there is a reduction in symptoms, isn’t that what matters?
It’s important to point out that hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone (investigators state this in the study). Still, it does appear that for some folks, hypnotic interventions, when combined with other forms of therapy, can help to reduce feelings of sadness.
When you take away the “woo-woo” factor (thanks to misrepresentations in popular culture), hypnosis really is nothing more than a natural, mindful approach to wellness.
Have you undergone hypnosis before to help treat depression or anxiety? If so, what was your experience? Share your comments in the box below.