Can hypnosis help myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)?
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) first came to the public’s attention as a recognised illness in the 1990s. Also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) it affects mainly young women between the ages of 20 and 40, though anyone of any age or sex can be affected. It is normally only diagnosed once other illnesses are ruled out as many of the symptoms could be linked to a number of other ailments.
There is no one specific indicator related to ME as it is made up of several, varying symptoms, therefore, it is often initially treated as something else. The person usually has to have been suffering from fatigue and accompanying symptoms for at least six months before a diagnosis is made.
One of the main symptoms is one of feeling weak and tired all the time regardless of whether a full night’s sleep has been obtained or not. The person may experience severe fatigue with intermittent flu-like symptoms such as headaches, sensitivity to light and/or sound, become irritable, have anxiety and may even become clinically depressed as they feel drained and constantly feeling under the weather. As well as physical symptoms, their concentration and memory can also be affected.
As there is no one factor that causes ME, diagnosis is often only made after omitting other illnesses one by one. A detailed clinical history is required to rule out inherited illnesses that may have similar symptoms and to build a complete picture of all issues related to the condition. Some otherwise previously fit, healthy people suddenly find themselves suffering from ME after contracting a viral infection that never disappears, with recurring sore throats, for example, being an indicator of the cause. Glandular fever can also be a trigger making the person susceptible to reoccurring infections which results in a decline in health instead of being healed once treated.
As well as obtaining a medical history using anecdotal information, blood tests are normally taken too. These cannot determine whether the patient has ME but it rules out other possibilities with similar symptoms. An example of this would be checking for anaemia and white cell count which can be a cause of fatigue in many people and are easily treated. ME patients do not show signs of being anaemic and their white cell count is normal therefore these two common causes of fatigue can be dismissed. Whilst there is no known cure for ME, some people do get better on their own through time.
Hypnosis can be extremely useful to address many of the symptoms associated with this condition to improve the quality of life of the person. Many people who have experienced hypnosis for any issue whether for physical or emotional healing, often report that they enjoy a better quality of fitful sleep afterwards. The hypnotherapist can also teach their client self-hypnosis to utilise whenever they feel the need to.
Feelings of anxiety and depression often accompanying ME can also be successfully addressed using the power of hypnosis. The guided relaxation into trance enables the client to experience calmness and clarity. As the hypnotist addresses the unconscious mind which deals with all the emotional effects of ME, the client is able to control how she reacts and feels about her condition.
Other effects of ME can be irritability and lack of concentration. These can be very distressing for the individual as it may make them believe they are not in control of their emotions which in turn exacerbates their condition. The techniques used in hypnosis have a calming effect and can only have beneficial results when undertaken.
Shortness of breath which is often experienced by the ME sufferer can be distressing to the individual as it can then lead to a panic attack. Breathing exercises used during hypnosis can help eliminate or at least regulate how and when these occur.
Many ME sufferers give up on trying any physical activity as the fatigue experienced in the aftermath can make it feel it was not worthwhile. However, long term this is not good for the overall health of the individual and should be done as often as possible.
Hypnosis can be used to address the person’s outlook on this and change their mindset by getting them to rationally weigh up the long term benefits of at least some physical exercise. This can also be the case for those who stop socialising for the same reasons which can lead to social isolation and mental health problems if left unaddressed.