Hypnotherapy for depression

Hypnosis allows you to gain better control of your conscious state of awareness, it allows you to access a deep state of relaxation, helping to reduce stress chemicals and restore the body’s equilibrium. And, in hypnotherapy for depression, the aim is to help you achieve this trance-like state of relaxation, so you can discuss your condition and associated emotions without raising stress levels or becoming overwhelmed.

Man with head in hands

Firstly, it’s hugely beneficial to understand how your brain works when you have been diagnosed with depression, as Sarah Swanton, Human Givens hypnotherapist and specialist in depression says. Treating depression using hypnotherapy helps the person to understand the cycle of their mental health condition, which is a key part in their recovery. 

“Essentially the cycle begins when one or more of our emotional human needs are not being met in a person’s life,” says Sarah. 

“Our emotional human needs are:

  • The need to give and receive attention.
  • The need for purpose, meaning and goals in life. 
  • The need for community and making a contribution. 
  • The need for challenge and creativity. 
  • The need for intimacy. 
  • The need for control. 
  • The need for status. 
  • The need to feel safe and secure.”

If our human needs are met in a healthy manner, we generally feel an overall sense of well-being. “However, when one or more needs are not being met, this leads to worry, anxiety and generally feeling ‘out of sorts’ – but because we are not taught this stuff in school, we don’t always know what’s wrong!”

Sarah notes that worry is a human trait, and is a natural emotion as the nature of worry is to get our attention and take action. “But, too much worry without any meaningful solution leads to over-dreaming (nature’s way of flushing out all and any concerns not dealt with from the previous day). 

“It comes as no surprise that dreaming is extremely labour intensive, which is why people without depression dream for around 25% of the night, with the rest of the night spent in deep, restorative and restful sleep. Studies have shown that people with depression can dream sleep up to 75% of the night.”

Often in depression, you may wake up feeling exhausted, lacking in motivation and energy, and this could be due to your overactive dream function. 

What to expect from a session of hypnotherapy for depression

As we know, relaxation is key to the therapeutic process. “A depressed brain is a very stressed brain, so the first step in any hypnotherapy session is to help calm down a revved-up mind, and encourage the nervous system to settle,” says Sarah. “I do some guided relaxation early on in the session, as well as teaching relaxation techniques that can be used outside of the session. This all helps to calm down ‘black and white’ thinking and reintroduce a healthy perspective.”

Black and white thinking refers to an inability to see the middle ground, instead, you think in absolutes. For example, you categorise all foods as either good or bad, you think you are either always right or a complete failure, or you see your body as completely perfect or utterly revolting.

Black and white thinking, common in people with depression, is particularly unhelpful as it presents a distorted version of reality, and can often give power to the extremities of the negative side of thoughts, the ‘this’ or ‘that’ which can manifest as negative thought cycles. Hypnotherapy seeks to bring about a balance between the two extreme thoughts.

The next step in the hypnotherapy session is to identify which of your human needs are not being met. “Together, we put realistic steps in place to get those needs met so you can re-engage with life again,” says Sarah. “Any areas where you feel stuck in moving forward, we can address using hypnosis to help you rehearse getting out and about in life while feeling deeply calm and relaxed. It’s a bit like a dress rehearsal for the real thing.” 

Sarah also uses practical problem-solving techniques alongside teaching you how to catch yourself when thinking in ‘black and white’. You’ll work together to encourage alternative ways of viewing situations, events, and even other people!

Woman resting on chair

How to self-soothe outside the therapy room

Often, therapy doesn’t finish when you leave the therapist’s office. What you do outside of this space is also very important to the healing process. 

“When people take what they learn during the sessions and implement it into their lives, this not only brings positive results but in many cases, acts as an antidote in preventing depression from returning,” says Sarah. “Depression is not just felt mentally and emotionally, it is very physical too – achy muscles, exhaustion and sleep issues. It sounds simple, but relaxing the mind and body is so rejuvenating for a person with depression.”

Sarah recommends the 7/11 breathing technique, which activates the body’s natural relaxation response (the parasympathetic nervous system).

“Breathe in through the belly for a count of seven, and out for a count of eleven. This way of breathing mimics what our body naturally does when it is in ‘rest and digest’ mode. Doing this first thing in the morning, in bed at night, or anytime when feeling anxious or overwhelmed can help us to regulate, and the beauty is that because it is just breathing, no one has to know you are doing it and it can be utilised anywhere!”

How to find a hypnotherapist for depression

Here at Hypnotherapy Directory, we only list professionals who have shown proof of a relevant qualification or membership with a professional body, so you can have peace of mind that the hypnotherapist you choose is adequately qualified. 

If you are ready to reach out to a hypnotherapist, drop Sarah a direct message, or search for a hypnotherapist using the advanced search tool, selecting ‘depression’ in the ‘what’s worrying you?’ dropdown. Simply browse profiles until you find a therapist you resonate with, and send them an email.

Sarah Swanton is a qualified hypnotherapist specialising in depression and uses the Human Givens approach (founded by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell). 

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Written by Katie Hoare

Katie is a writer for Hypnotherapy Directory.

Written by Katie Hoare

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