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Stress, anxiety, depression and how to heal with hypnotherapy

What is stress, and how may it lead to depression, other mental health problems such as anxiety and panic attacks, and physical health problems too, and how hypnotherapy could help.

What is stress?

Stress is the feeling of being under too much pressure. This may be mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when a person feels unable to cope with what is in their life, either in one area or multiple areas of their life. All of us have different ways of reacting to and coping with stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.

All areas of our lives can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

You may feel anxious, irritable or low in terms of self-esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more, or act unreasonably. You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain in parts of your body, or dizziness.

Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body which are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called "fight or flight" response.

If you're constantly under stress, instead of these hormones leaving your body in due course, they will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Emotional symptoms of stress may include some of the following:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control.
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind.
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed.
  • Avoiding others.
  • Constant worrying.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Forgetfulness and disorganisation.
  • Inability to focus.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side.

Physical symptoms of stress may include some of the following:

  • Low energy.
  • Headaches.
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea.
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles.
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
  • Insomnia.
  • Frequent colds and infections.
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability.
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet.
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth.
  • Changes in appetite - either not eating or eating too much.
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities.
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing.

Prolonged stress can lead to general unhappiness, and ultimately depression, as well as some of the following:

  • Anxiety and agitation.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Feeling lost.
  • Loneliness and isolation.

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about.

However, ongoing, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:

  • Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke.
  • Obesity and other eating disorders.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women.
  • Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon.

Stress is not an illness in itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn't managed well. It is important to recognise the symptoms of stress early on. This will help you figure out ways of coping and managing stress. Very often, people adopt unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking, drug taking, gambling or smoking.

What is depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is an extremely common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

Fortunately, it is also very treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

Depression has many possible causes, such as genetics, brain chemicals, and life situation. However, chronic stressful life situations can increase the risk of developing depression if you aren't coping well with the stress. There's also increasing evidence of links among poor coping, stress and physical illness.

There are a number of ways that chronic stress can lead to depression and serious illness. These include increased levels of cortisol often referred to as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increased blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

Keeping well

There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise, and adopting good time-management techniques. Other ways include:

  • Keeping a positive attitude.
  • Accepting that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Being assertive instead of aggressive.
  • Learning and practising relaxation techniques; trying meditation, yoga, or tai-chi for stress management.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Eating healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Speaking to a friend.
  • Seeing a therapist.
  • Speaking to your doctor.

Studies have found that seeing a qualified clinical hypnotherapist, seeking help early on, adopting stress management and coping techniques, and also learning how to relax and unwind, can also help to reduce stress, improve mood, and physical and mental health, as well as overall well-being.

Clinical hypnotherapy

Clinical hypnotherapy has proven to be an extremely effective, successful and evermore widely used therapy in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression.

Research has shown that clinical hypnotherapy (either privately or on the NHS) is now the most effective treatment for helping people suffering from the symptoms of stress, anxiety, panic and depression. It is now widely used in hospitals, surgeries, clinics, and private practice.

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Rebecca Jones M.A. (DipPCH) (GHR, GHSC) GQHP

Rebecca Jones(M.A.DipPCH) is a clinical hypnotherapist with a thriving practice in Harley St. London and a clinic on Deansgate in Manchester. Rebecca also travels extensively to clients around the world including Paris, New York, and further afield. She also provides an online hypnotherapy service and her new book will be published later this year.… Read more

Written by Rebecca Jones M.A. (DipPCH) (GHR, GHSC) GQHP

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