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Anxiety and panic attacks
We all experience a certain degree of anxiety in our lives, perhaps before exams, starting a new job or worrying about our finances or relationships. Feeling anxious at times is quite normal. However for some people it becomes problematic, invading and spoiling their daily lives.
Anxiety is a normal reaction which our brain initiates in response to a perceived threat. When our brain perceives danger ( whether it be real or imagined) it initiates the flight or fight response, flooding the body with stress hormones. This response is useful and necessary when we are actually faced with danger, as it prepares our bodies to cope with that danger. However, it is not useful to experience this in non dangerous situations or situations where the danger is merely imagined. Some people will set off the reaction just by worrying about something which hasn't yet happened or may never happen!
Symptoms of anxiety may include:
Panic attacks are usually experienced as sudden and intense periods of fearfulness that can often cause the sufferer to fear that they are having a heart attack or breakdown. A panic attack is actually the firing of the flight and fight response when no obvious threat is present. There will , however, normally be a trigger which caused the attack, and which generated the fear. Sometimes we are unaware of this trigger as it is deeply rooted in our subconscious.
Symptons of a panic attack include:
Anyone who experiences high levels of anxiety and/or panic attacks is not able to enjoy life to the full. To reduce the anxiety, hypnotherapy can help change the way the anxious person is looking at the situation- the emotion and belief, and can change the emotional response to certain triggers. Hypnosis is key to helping a person have more appropriate responses, to better access their cognition and to connect with the "bigger picture" in a meaningful way.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Hypnotherapy is now widely recognised as a highly effective treatment for I.B.S. ( Irritable bowel Syndrome) and is currently endorsed by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Recent research , carried into the efficacy of Hypnotherapy for IBS , shows improvements in nine out of ten patients.
Irritable bowel syndrome can be a distressing and sometimes very debilitating condition. Sufferers complain that it "drags them down", depletes their energy, dramatically interfering with the quality of their everyday lives and activities.
What is it?- Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the gut. This means that there is an abnormality in the working of the gut rather than its structure. It is one of the most common problems of the digestive system, with something like 1 in 6 people suffering from this condition at some time in their lives. The exact causes of I.B.S. are unclear and diagnosis can sometimes be extremely difficult. However, over activity in the nerves and muscles of the gut are believed to be a factor. Again it is not entirely clear exactly why the over activity occurs but research suggests that, as well as diet, stress and emotion can be significant factors and may well contribute to severe IBS episodes
*Abdominal pain, which is often spasmodic in nature
* Rumbling tummy and/or excessive wind
* Extreme feelings of needing to go to the toilet urgently
Hypnotherapy is now used by many health care practitioners in the treatment of IBS, helping to reduce stress levels and giving you the tools to be able to deal with any potential stress or emotion which may exacerbate or trigger IBS symptoms. Hypnotherapy also helps to manage any pain that might be experienced as a result of the condition. Visualization and imagery can be used and taught as an effective method of lessening symptons and calming the gut
NB If you think you are suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome it is advisable to get it checked out with your GP, so that any other digestive disorders can be eliminated.
Phobias and fears
People suffer from many different phobias, from the more well known ones such as fear of spiders, heights, needles, flying and confined spaces to the more obscure and unusual.
A phobia is a conditioned fear response to a particular object or stimulus. The stimulus may have a real element of danger ( snakes, heights) or be totally harmless ( balloons). Phobias can originate from one off incidents or may be learnt from others. A child whose parent has always become anxious around spiders is more likely to develop a matching anxiety response.
The parts of the brain involved in fear responses are the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is responsible for initiating the fight or flight response that occurs when we are faced with a potentially dangerous situation. The hippocampus is responsible for processing this reaction and storing it as a learned memory, so that a future template is laid down. Our brain will always then refer to our previous pattern of behaviour. So for example, if you reacted to a spider in an anxious way last time you saw one, then your brain will encourage you to do the same again. It has laid that template down.
Hypnotherapy helps to change these templates. It helps you to unlearn the fear, by calming and relaxing the brain, then reprogramming it to respond in a different way . Your brain has learned a fear but your brain can also unlearn that fear.
Whatever your phobia, Hypnotherapy can help. It doesn't matter for how long you've had it, or how extreme or rare it is. Using the REWIND TECHNIQUE a phobia can be cured in as little as one session.
Depression is a common condition that will affect one in three people at some time in their life. It can be extremely debilitating and all-consuming, affecting all areas of our life- work, relationships, sleeping, eating, self care, When feeling depressed we often feel alone in the world and that nothing can help our situation.
There are a wide range of symptoms associated with depression. As a guide you may be suffering with depression if you have five or more of the following symptoms, consistently for at least a two to three week period:
There is no single specific cause of depression. Factors can include stress, loss, trauma, illness, drugs and alcohol , loneliness, lack of self esteem. Physical issues can be significant – including low blood sugar levels and sleep problems, medication and even diet. Anxiety, though, goes hand in hand with the disorder and is usually the precursor to depression.
Depression is also closely linked to the sleep cycle. When we are depressed our normal sleep cycle alters, lessening the amount of deep sleep ( when levels of the "feel good" chemical, serotonin are replenished) and increasing the amount of REM or dream sleep. Our sleep quality is diminished, we wake up tired, we have less happy chemicals in our system, our blood sugar levels are down, we reach for the wrong type of food-our energy levels surge temporarily then drop....and the cycle continues.
Hypnotherapy can help to lift your mood, enabling you to break the cycle of depression and able to focus on the positive aspects of your life. You can get your life back. You will have more control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours enabling you to better deal with daily life. That downward spiral can be reversed. We can work together to set tasks on a session to session basis, to manage your negative thinking patterns and to gently guide your body and mind back to a balanced and healthier, happier state.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
THE REWIND TECHNIQUE is a highly effective and recognised hypnotherapeutic technique which can treat PTSD and is now endorsed by several well known war veteran charities. Not all hypnotherapists are trained in this technique but it is becoming an increasingly desired skill set amongst trained therapists. Results can be seen in as little as one session.
After a traumatic experience of any kind ( e.g. war experience, car accident, mugging, bad childbirth) everyone will feel some degree of stress. For most people these symptoms will pass and they will get over their experience without needing to seek help. In some people the stress response doesn't diminish and they find it difficult to come to terms with what has happened, with adverse effects felt months or even years after the event.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological and physical condition that can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event in their life. It is thought that up to 30% of people who go through a traumatic experience or stressful event will go on to develop PTSD. Symptoms generally develop immediately after the traumatic event, although in some cases the reaction can be delayed for weeks, months or years. Some common symptoms include:
PTSD and the Brain
When we suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we are constantly in fight or flight mode and our body produces adrenaline and other stress hormones.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain involved with PTSD-it processes memories. In simple terms, when we have a high level of stress hormones in the brain, the hippocampus cannot perform its job as well as it should and cannot calmly process the memories into the longer term memory banks. Instead the memories remain current, they aren't processed so they don't go away, and they continue to be a source of anxiety and stress causing flashbacks and nightmares and trapping us in a vicious circle.
A therapist can use the REWIND TECHNIQUE to calm the client's mind from anxiety and fear of the event, and help allow the client's brain to process the event, until it becomes a normalized memory.
Chronic Pain and Pain Management
Living with pain can be very debilitating. It can affect all areas of your life and interfere with your ability to concentrate and focus on whatever it is you need or want to do. You no longer get as much pleasure out of life because you can't do the things that you used to enjoy doing, such as exercising, playing with your children or going shopping. Even low levels of pain can affect the way you function on a day-to-day basis-often people report feeling depressed, unhappy, anxious, angry and helpless.
The way in which you feel and deal with pain is affected by your emotions and beliefs. POWs will tell stories of how they survived torture by sheer strength of mind- by using mind game techniques to endure the onslaughts, and by believing they would survive, even when their bodies were weakened and failing. There is no doubt that the relationship between mind and body is an important factor in dealing with chronic pain. Negative feelings and emotions, experienced by many sufferers - for instance stress, anxiety and depression - can all cause muscle tension and exacerbate the discomfort.
It makes sense, then , that people can experience pain in completely different ways. "Your" pain experience is an outcome of a complex interaction of several different factors, including:
Hypnotherapy empowers you to address virtually all of these factors so that your mind can change how it responds to your situation and change its interpretation of what is going on in your body, acknowledging the pain in a different way.
Hypnosis has been used for thousands of years to control pain. Today, it is widely used by healthcare professionals to aid dentistry and surgical operations. Not only can it help focus your thoughts and feelings, so altering the perception of pain, but use of guided imagery can help isolate specific areas of the body and give the sufferer techniques to control pain thresholds. Hypnotherapy is also effective in improving the quality of your sleep, key to allowing your body to rest and recuperate, but, importantly to allow your brain to rest and to calm, more able to cope with pain.
Weight Loss and management
...A review of several weight loss studies determined that adding hypnosis to traditional behavioural weight loss programmes can more than double the level of weight lost and that the benefits of receiving hypnosis continue to increase substantially over time... (Kirsch, 1996).
Many people struggle to lose weight or to keep their weight at a healthy level. In many cases dieting works for a while but then those pounds just pile on on again. This is because diets are mostly based on calorie restriction or avoidance of certain food groups, but they do not take into account lifestyle or the unconscious forces that cause food cravings.
Often we have trigger points which cause us to eat; we have perhaps developed unhealthy associations about food from an early age; or we use food for emotional reasons. These issues require to be addressed before successful and longterm weight management can be achieved.
This means that the way to lose weight effectively and effortlessly is to understand what drives you to consistently consume more than you need. Put another way, what is the role that eating and drinking play in your life? These roles will vary from person to person and may be many and varied. For instance, consuming excess foodstuffs might be a habit, a reward or a means of coping with stress. It might be a form of comfort or provide a greater sense of control.
Hypnotherapy can enable you to better understand the roles that food and drink play in your life and the different, often unconscious factors that lead you to put on weight or to be unable to lose weight. Hypnotherapy addresses these factors first and foremost. Only then can we set ourselves tasks or challenges in terms of exercise and healthy eating, and expect to see the great results. Hypnotherapy will tackle your emotions and beliefs about food, empowering you to replace your unhealthy eating habits with new healthier ones. It can also change the way you feel about yourself and your body, helping you to feel more confident and ultimately, more comfortable and in tune with your desired goals. This positivity leads to a more natural and permanent pathway towards healthy weight loss.
We are all aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes- the affect on our own health and wellbeing, as well as the affect of passive smoking on our close friends and loved ones. Yet that knowledge in itself is still not enough for many people to kick the habit. Often the reasons for giving up smoking are more personal- the death of a friend, pregnancy, the birth of a first grandchild, fed up with a house smelling like an ashtray, struggling for breath on the football pitch- whatever the reason, a conscious decision to quit has been made.
However, conscious resolve is rarely enough to give up this habit. The act of smoking is much more complex than just a conscious desire to pick up a cigarette. A number of factors lie behind your smoking habit. Some of these may be obvious to you, whilst others might be unconscious and, as such, you are unaware of them. Examples include
Importantly, the pathway to giving up smoking is personal and unique to you. Clearly, you are more likely to quit the smoking habit for good if you deal with all of the factors that have been supporting it. As it is clear that both our conscious and unconscious minds play a significant part in the process, so it is vital to address and "talk to" both of these minds, to get them working together to tackle the task. This is where hypnotherapy can play a vital and effective part in aiding the smoker to quit for good.
Hypnotherapy brings the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind together to powerfully focus on the desired goal of quitting.
Confidence and self esteem
Self Confidence: Self confidence is about having faith in our abilities. It is a belief that the things you want to do are within your capability. Rather than self-confidence being a feeling, it's about believing you can do things, you can take action.
A lack of confidence can be restrictive, preventing you from trying new things, accepting opportunities and maximising your potential.
Common situations where people often feel they need more confidence include:
Self Esteem : Self-esteem is a bit different from self confidence. Self esteem is about our own sense of self worth; it is how we value ourselves and how important we feel we are. It is about seeing ourselves in a positive light with a healthy self-image. Low self-esteem is often associated with a lack of self-confidence, and also with anxiety or low mood.
Low confidence and self esteem can be caused by many experiences throughout your life. Ultimately it has led to you having a certain belief about yourself. An inner dialogue has been imprinted in your subconscious mind.
" I can't do this"
" I am not worthy of this"
" I am not good enough"
"I will never be like him/her"
Hypnotherapy helps increase confidence and self esteem. Solution focused questions asked by a skilled therapist, will ascertain what thoughts and beliefs are current, what negative thought patterns are causing this lack of self belief or self esteem.
Then the therapist and client can work together, using hypnotic induction to re-align negative thought processes, tackle imprinted beliefs, eliminate self doubt and improve self image.
Most people have experienced sleepless nights from time to time and are then able to make up for it the next night without any ill effect. However, when this happens night after night, it can affect your health and well being.
There are many reasons why people suffer from poor quality, or interrupted sleep. It may be that something in your life has caused worry and anxiety. If this then affects your sleep, problems can seem worse than they really are. When you are tired it isn't as easy to deal with life and so you can find yourself in a vicious cycle.
Other causes of poor sleep include:
Hypnotherapy enables you to relax both physically and mentally, allowing you to take control and re-educate your mind into relaxing easily into sleep.
Habits are behaviours that are learned and have become automatic. They are repeated regularly. Often, the person will not be aware of the behaviour. A habit could be biting fingernails, pulling your hair or procrastinating.
In order to understand a habit disorder it is important to explore the mind-body connections and emotional components. For some, there may be pleasure associated with the habit. For others, the habit can provide comfort, perhaps used to manage difficult or painful feelings or situations. Whatever the history behind the habit, your subconscious now believes that your bad habit is good because it has stored the feeling of satisfaction, pleasure or comfort you receive from the habit. It will automatically trigger you to feel these emotions when you repeat the behaviour.
Hypnotherapy can tackle unwanted behaviours, communicating directly with the subconscious mind to make it become aware of all the negative qualities of the bad habit, and of all the positive benefits of stopping that habit. Together we can change the pattern match that has been learned, the faulty template that has been laid down, and replace it with another. The unconscious mind will no longer associate the habit with positive feelings. So, the next time you would have acted out your bad habit, your subconscious will respond by telling you that this behaviour will not give you pleasure or comfort. It negates any subconscious desire to repeat the habit. It is another perfect example of how vitally important it is to tap into our unconscious mind to produce effective results.