Managing anxiety and phobias with Hypnotherapy
We all feel anxious at times, it’s a normal response when we are in a situation which is stressful, but for some people, sometimes, anxiety becomes so severe that it interferes with their day to day living. There are many ways to treat anxiety and hypnotherapy is a very effective solution.
When we become very anxious, almost as if we were in a tight corner, we begin to feel threatened, although we may not know why, it is a feeling of unease, worry, fear, dread.
Fear is a normal response to an active or imagined threat, like going to the dentist, or attending an interview, but sometimes we don’t know why we feel anxious or distressed.
When we are anxious, we may also experience a range of symptoms, these happen because of the body’s fight or flight response, which is caused by the release of a stress hormone, adrenaline.
You may have feelings of terror, your skin may be pale or deep red, you may sweat, have a rapid heart beat, a rise in blood pressure, tension in the muscles, trembling or shaking, dryness and tightness of the throat, difficulty in swallowing, pain in the chest and rapid breathing, nausea, feelings of desperation, and may have a strong desire to run and hide, or cry, you may have tingling in the limbs, fear of fainting, or difficulty sleeping, or concentrating, and may feel detached from your body. So feeling anxious can not only affect you emotionally, but it can also mean you experience unpleasant physical symptoms.
Types of anxiety and phobia
Situational anxiety, or phobic anxiety, is the term given when anxiety develops as a response to specific situations. Situational anxiety differs from normal fear as it is disproportionate, for example, driving down the motorway, going to the doctor, or taking an exam. Phobic anxiety is when the fear gets so bad, that you start avoiding these things. You actually sensitise yourself to a situation. For example you sensitise yourself to driving down the motorway, and when you think about driving again you think negative distorted thoughts, what if I feel as I did last time, and then you begin to avoid the situation. So what is happening? you are:
- Sensitising yourself to a situation
- Negative thinking
These are the three things that keep the phobia going. After sensitisation occurs, you may tend to avoid the situation. Repeated avoidance is very rewarding because it saves you from having to feel any anxiety. Avoidance is the most powerful way to hold on to a phobia or fear, because it prevents you from ever learning that you can handle it.
Often anxiety can be brought on, merely by thinking about a particular situation. When you feel stressed about what might happen if you have to face one of your phobic situations, you are experiencing what is called anticipatory anxiety.
Anxiety is part of everyday life, and it’s important to remember that there are many situations that come up in which it is reasonable to react with some anxiety, for instance nearly getting run over, going for an interview, leaving home and starting a new job.
Anxiety disorders are different from everyday anxiety, they are more intense and border on a panic attack, they last longer and they persist for months instead of going away after a stressful situation has passed, and they may lead to phobias. Some anxiety disorders: (these are only a few)
- Panic disorder
- Social phobia
- Specific phobia
- Generalized anxiety
Panic disorder – this is described – as having sudden feelings of intense fear that occur from nowhere without any apparent cause, it occurs spontaneously, and has at least four of the symptoms described earlier. People tend to develop panic disorders during late adolescence or in their twenties, and in a lot of cases panic is complicated by the development of agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia – it is thought that one in twenty of the general population suffers from varying degrees of agoraphobia – it means fear of open places, but the essence of agoraphobia is a fear of panic attacks. If you suffer from agoraphobia it means you are afraid of being in situations from which it is difficult to escape, or where help might be unavailable if you suddenly had a panic attack. You might be in the hairdressers, or in a queue in a supermarket, or driving down the motorway – the thought of being embarrassed in these situations plays a key role – what would other people think if you had a panic attack in front of them?
Another feature of agoraphobia is anxiety of being far away from home or from a safe person. With agoraphobia you might be anxious most of the time, and the fear arises from anticipating that you might be stuck in one of those situations in which you would panic.
Social Phobia – this is a common anxiety disorder. It is a fear of being embarrassed in situations where you are exposed to the scrutiny of others, or where you have to perform. This fear is much stronger than the normal anxiety. It’s usually so strong that you avoid these situations
Social phobia tends to develop in late childhood or adolescence, and often occur in shy children, and if not treated usually persist through adulthood.
Specific phobia – involves a strong fear and avoidance of one particular type of object or situation. The fear and avoidance are strong enough to interfere with work, or relationships and cause significant distress.
- Animal phobias
- Fear of heights
- Flying phobia
- White coat phobia
- Thunder and lightening phobia
- Blood injury phobia
- Illness phobia.
And many more.
Generalised anxiety disorder
It’s normal to be concerned about lack of money after losing your job, or worry about your health if you begin to have chest pains and a racing heart. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is not about natural worries; it’s about chronic, excessive worrying events that are very unlikely to happen.
Generalized anxiety disorder happens when typical levels of anxiety become severe, and persist for over six months. Your normal life becomes difficult, because people who suffer from GAD experience extremely high levels of worry, fearing the immediate future and dwelling on what might go wrong, but feel these events are out of their control.
Where to find help for anxiety and phobia problems
So what do you do next?
If you think you have an anxiety disorder, go and see your GP, who will listen to what you have to say, and make sure it is an anxiety disorder that you are suffering from. He may give you medication to help you feel better.
What can you do to get rid of your anxiety disorder?
We first need to look at what keeps the anxiety disorder or phobia going – and there are many reasons. Some work on your body (for example shallow breathing, muscle tension, (poor nutrition), others work on emotions (such as withheld feelings) this affects your behaviour(avoidance of the phobic situation) and Mind (negative self talk), and of course low self-esteem has to be worked on to give you confidence again.
The causes of keeping the anxiety disorder going are very varied so a varied approach to recovery is needed too. You need to work on:
- Mental, and the
- Whole self
Using hypnotherapy to cure anxiety and phobias
Medication – helps to relieve the anxiety, and is used for treatment with anxiety disorders. This is why it is important to see your doctor.
Relaxation training is also very important and hypnotherapy and hypnosis can help with this. When we become stressed and panic, we often hyperventilate, tense our muscles, and almost push ourselves into those panicky feelings. The capacity to relax is essential and hypnotherapy can really make the difference. Regular daily practice of some form of deep relaxation will help you become calmer and breathe normally again. Relaxation and hypnosis techniques can help anxiety and phobias in a number of ways:
- Hypnotherapy helps anxiety by decreasing the heart rate
- Hypnotherapy can also help decrease the respiration rate
- Blood pressure can be decreased through hypnosis
- A hypnotherapist can help decrease muscle tension
- Analytical thinking can also be decreased with hypnosis
Following a number of consultations with your hypnotherapist, you will learn to help anxiety and phobias by using self hypnosis. Practising deep relaxation for half an hour every day can produce over time, a continued feeling of relaxation most of the time.
Ways to bring yourself into a state of deep relaxation (self hypnosis) may include
- Abdominal breathing
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Visualizing a nice place to be in
- Guided imagery
- Seeing yourself in the future feeling better
By visiting a hypnotherapist you will be able to embrace all of this. Your hypnotherapist will teach you self-hypnosis, and make you a CD, so that you can relax at home and let go of that anxiety.
Hypnotherapy will teach you to breathe properly, relax your muscles, work on your emotions and withheld feelings, turn your negative distorted self talk into positive, so that you will not avoid those situations again.
Hypnotherapy for anxiety and panic attacks is an extremely powerful tool. It is used to change the thought processes that lead to anxiety and panic. During the hypnotherapy techniques the client reduces the anxiety levels previously experienced in a given situation.
NLP and hypnosis can get rid of your phobias and anxieties and give you confidence again.
Article submitted by
Lyta Humphris, Hypnotherapy