We all experience feelings of anxiety at some point in our lives, as a natural response to stress, uncertainty, or new situations. But for some, anxiety can affect our daily lives. Here, we explain more about anxiety and how hypnotherapy can help.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are amongst the most common mental health conditions, thought to affect around 30% of us at some point during our lives. But why do so many of us experience anxiety? And what can we do if it’s affecting our day-to-day lives?
In this video, hypnotherapist and anxiety recovery coach Denise Bosque explains what can cause anxiety and how hypnotherapy can help you overcome it.
As humans, we have evolved to protect ourselves. One of the ways we do that is through the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction. If our brain perceives a threat, it releases hormones to prepare us to run away, fight, or freeze. These hormones include adrenaline and cortisol, and they make us feel more vigilant of what’s happening. They also make our heart beat faster, so blood is sent where it’s needed the most when we’re under attack.
It’s a great system, but as society has developed, we have less need for it. For many of us, the system gets activated when there is no physical danger present. For example, this response may be triggered by our manager asking us to add another task to our to-do list.
We then end up internalising the feelings and find ourselves sitting at our desks, with our hearts pounding, with no idea how to make it stop. Anxiety becomes a mental health problem when it starts affecting daily life. You may be very easily triggered, or find you have a level of anxiety constantly throughout the day.
What are the signs of anxiety?
Anxiety will feel different to everyone, however, common signs include:
- overthinking or ruminating
- chest pain
- difficulties sleeping or concentrating
- faster breathing
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- teeth grinding
- restlessness, feeling on edge or wound-up
- feeling irritable
Does hypnotherapy really work?
Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can be an effective way of managing symptoms of anxiety. Find out more about the studies and research into hypnotherapy and hypnosis.
Types of anxiety
Because anxiety is a normal part of life, it can be difficult to recognise when it is becoming a problem. However, if you are experiencing strong feelings of anxiety, or they are lasting for a long time, it can become exhausting and overwhelming.
The symptoms associated with anxiety will differ between each individual but, depending on the kind of problems you experience, you may be diagnosed with a more specific anxiety disorder.
Generalised anxiety disorder
Those with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) will feel anxious often and may not know why. The anxiety can interfere with daily life as sufferers may seriously worry about family, money and health. The condition is often diagnosed when an individual spends at least six months worrying excessively about everyday problems. It can be a difficult disorder to live with as it can feel as if there’s no respite from anxiety.
Panic disorder is characterised by intense feelings of terror, which can strike suddenly and without warning. A common symptom is panic attacks, though not everyone who experiences a panic attack will have panic disorder. Those who are diagnosed with panic disorder can often feel afraid of having a panic attack. It’s this fear that can then lead to panic attacks, where it becomes a vicious cycle.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) involves extreme feelings of anxiety and discomfort in social situations. Some of the common signs of social anxiety include fear of being around and interacting with people and being judged negatively by others.
Other forms of anxiety disorders include:
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Health anxiety is a specific type of phobia or anxiety, that can make day-to-day life extremely difficult.
Someone with health anxiety will find themselves worrying a great deal about their health and may think they’re unwell when they’re not. They might check their body regularly for signs of illness, including unusual lumps, pains or other physical sensations. They may also be perpetually frightened of dying.
Hypnotherapy for health anxiety can help you to change your perspective, removing the fear of your health being in danger and replacing it with a different, more positive suggestion.
The ability to drive can be one of the most freeing and beneficial skills a person can have in today’s world. Typically, it allows freedom and independence - you can go wherever you want.
For some people though, driving can be incredibly stressful. It may be that the act of driving itself causes anxiety, triggered by a previous incident or experience. Or it could be the idea of driving, fear of learning to drive and passing the test could be what’s holding you back.
Hypnotherapy can be an effective solution for overcoming driving anxiety. It works by first identifying what may have triggered the anxiety or fear, and then providing solutions to remain calm and confident. We are all capable of learning to drive and enjoying the process, hypnotherapy simply helps us to quiet the self-doubt, reminding us of our abilities and skills.
How can I reduce anxiety?
Anxiety is a difficult thing to live with. It can feel exhausting, taking its toll on both our mental and physical health. If you suffer from anxiety, in any form, know that you’re not alone and that there are tools to help you.
What works best for you will depend on the nature of your anxiety and your personal circumstances; try not to be disheartened if one approach doesn’t seem to help. For some people, self-help techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and journaling are enough to manage anxiety symptoms. For others, more professional guidance is needed.
Talking therapies like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are often recommended for anxiety. Your doctor may also recommend medication. Hypnotherapy for anxiety is also gaining in popularity and, for many people, brings about positive change not only in anxiety symptoms but in your relationship with anxiety itself.
Does hypnotherapy really work for anxiety?
Hypnotherapy for anxiety can help boost feelings of confidence and self-belief while reducing feelings of fear and intense worry. It can help you develop the ability to access the relaxed state of mind needed to overcome the often overwhelming emotions that come with anxiety.
Using the power of suggestion, hypnosis aims to access your subconscious mind and promote positive change. The suggestions themselves can be tailored to help you learn what triggers your anxiety and why, as well as change the way you react towards them.
Clinical hypnotherapy (using hypnosis to treat or alleviate physical and/or psychological symptoms) can be used to help create deeper levels of relaxation, reduce stress, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Most often used for mild anxiety, hypnotherapy can also be used alongside other treatment methods for more severe cases of anxiety.
Hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful in discovering the cause of your anxiety. By working with a qualified hypnotherapist, you can get to the root cause of your anxiety: the fear that is leading you to feel unsafe, on edge, or stressed. By identifying this cause, they can help you reframe negative thoughts or beliefs, to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
While more research is needed on the success of hypnotherapy for anxiety, studies suggest that hypnosis can help with ‘trait anxiety' (where you tend to have anxiety as part of your personality). It can also help with conditions where anxiety can increase your symptoms (e.g. hypnotherapy for IBS).
Hypnoanalysis, also known as analytical hypnotherapy, can be particularly helpful in overcoming generalised anxiety. This type of hypnotherapy works on the idea that there is a cause behind current concerns, and by uncovering the cause, you can work towards resolving it. Taking longer than other types of hypnotherapy, this method is like a combination of talking therapy and hypnotherapy.
Clients are often surprised by how quickly their patterns can shift and they can get back in control of their lives, producing great chemicals which make them feel energised, motivated and happier.
How hypnotherapy works: what to expect
To begin, you will generally discuss what it is you hope to achieve from hypnotherapy with your hypnotherapist. Your hypnotherapist will ask questions to try and establish any triggers for the way you feel. They will then explain how hypnosis for anxiety works, explaining the process.
After your initial consultation, your hypnotherapist will begin by helping you enter a relaxed state of mind. While sessions will differ depending on your therapist’s approach, they may ask you to focus on a time when you have felt anxious. You may be asked to focus on the physical sensations, as well as thinking of what may trigger your anxiety.
Once you have recognised these sensations, your hypnotherapist may offer calming words or ‘suggestions’. What they say will depend on you and your personal situation. For example, if you have recognised a trigger to be pressure at work or university, the suggestion could be, “You can do this. Take a moment to breathe and clear your head then tackle the problem.”
The idea behind this technique is that when you start to feel anxious, suggestions will enter your conscious mind and help you cope. Your hypnotherapist may also teach you techniques to help you relax and calm yourself down when anxious feelings build.
Your hypnotherapist may also teach you self-hypnosis techniques that you can turn to when you feel you need them. They may offer you recordings and teach you simple methods to practise at home.
Helping you to cultivate a sense of inner strength to overcome anxiety, this self-hypnosis track from hypnotherapist Juliet Hollingsworth will leave you feeling calm and in control.
How many sessions of hypnotherapy are needed for anxiety?
The number of hypnotherapy sessions needed to help with anxiety can vary from person to person. Typically, around four to six sessions can help you to learn new methods of coping, to replace unhelpful or harmful thought patterns or past negative associations with new, more positive ones. Before starting with a hypnotherapist, it is worth discussing what you hope to gain from your sessions, including any specific goals.
Can hypnotherapy make anxiety worse?
Hypnotherapy can be an effective method of helping some people reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Research suggests that hypnosis is effective in reducing anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. However, it is not always helpful for everyone.
If you have a history of psychosis or certain types of personality disorders, you should speak with your GP first, as hypnotherapy may not be recommended for you. Some people do experience headaches, dizziness, or anxiety following hypnotherapy, however, this usually fades quickly following a session.
Where can I find a hypnotherapist?
When you are ready, the first step of your journey will be to find a hypnotherapist that you feel comfortable with. On Hypnotherapy Directory, we have a proof policy in place to ensure all professionals listed on our website have provided proof of qualifications and insurance or membership with a professional body.
It’s important to find a hypnotherapist that resonates with you, so we encourage our members to fill their profiles with as much information as possible. This way you can learn more about them, how they work and if they are the person to help you. When you find a professional you believe can help, simply send them an email to book a consultation.