As a hypnotherapist who specialises in helping people with anxiety I often see a lot of depressed clients and I use hypnotherapy to help them with depression too, anxiety and depression are often interlinked (comorbid). Research suggests that mixed anxiety and depression are four times more common than depression alone. Just as everyone gets anxious from time to time most people experience depressed feelings too. Depression occurs when a person is experiencing these feelings for a prolonged period of time.
Someone suffering with depression may experience a feeling of low energy to the stage where just getting out of bed becomes a chore, reduced libido, brain fog and difficulty concentrating, insomnia or over sleeping, over or under eating, feelings of worthlessness or like life is pointless, delusions and hallucinations, negative thoughts and catastrophizing. These feelings will sometimes last months or even years.
Anxiety and Depression
Some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression overlap, people with anxiety also have trouble sleeping, brain fog, they experience all or nothing thinking, can feel like the world is out to get them and they often have a lack of energy.
The medical profession isn’t sure whether anxiety causes depression or depression causes anxiety, from my own experience I have found that anxiety sufferers tend to become isolated, they avoid social contact and will look for work that allows them to avoid experiencing anxiety and panic.
The isolation that anxiety sufferers seek leads to them making choices that reduce their social circle and support network. I myself did this to try and avoid my anxiety issues, it caused me to make some very bad life choices and I experienced quite severe repercussions that led to depression until I reached a point where I decided that I had to change. Depression can also be caused by the side effects of medication, physical issues and diet.
Trauma & Anxiety
Growing up with dysfunction caused me to suffer Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), I had trust issues, brain fog, negative voices in my head, I was emotionally dysregulated, I couldn’t form functional relationships, always catastrophizing and looking for things to go wrong, I would suffer debilitating anxiety attacks.
Many of my clients have experienced traumatic events which have then triggered feelings of anxiety and symptoms of depression such as lack of focus, feelings of pointlessness, lack of direction, like their life has no purpose. With hypnotherapy and CBT I have helped clients suffering from complex trauma, PTSD, anxiety and depression.
So How Hypnotherapy Can Help With Depression?
My hypnotherapy sessions usually last around 90 minutes, the first 30-45 minutes of every session is talk therapy to find out about the clients condition, when they first experienced the problem, what their life will look like without the problem, what improvements they have noticed since the previous session, etc. I may show the client breathing techniques to help with anxiety, I often teach them self hypnosis and meditation.
For the rest of the session I use hypnosis to help the client desensitise past memories and envisage themselves differently, research has shown that the mind cannot distinguish the difference between a real and imagined event so by envisaging themselves differently clients are actually able to create new neural pathways in their brain and become the person they want to be. After the sessions clients report feeling calmer, more focused and more relaxed.
Hypnosis & Rumination
A person suffering from depression will often focus on the past and replay past memories over and over again in their mind this is known as rumination. One way I use hypnosis to help depression sufferers is by bringing them into the present, getting them to focus on their breath, sensations in their body, sounds they can hear around them.
Purpose and Positive Focus
I work with my clients to help them find purpose in their lives, to find something meaningful and positive to focus on.
In previous blog posts I have spoken about the Reticular Activating System and how perception creates reality, it has been proven that we will notice more of what we focus so I give clients a positive focus between sessions. As I said above, the mind cannot tell the difference between a real and imagined event so by using hypnosis we can start to change a person’s focus and life outlook.
Behavioural and Cognitive Changes
When a person is depressed or anxious they adopt postures and behaviours that make them feel worse. Systems theory says that by changing one part of the system we can change the whole system, our thoughts, influence our behaviors, our feelings, environment etc. so I set clients homework that will allow them to change their posture and challenge negative thoughts between sessions. I keep clients accountable for doing this homework which means that hypnotherapy has best results on depression sufferers that are actually willing to make the changes.
After just 3 sessions with me one depression client said, “It was quick and easy, and with good results. I would recommend it to anyone who isn’t finding relief from other treatments.”