Can Hypnosis be Used to Treat Depression?

Our Depression & Grief Experts

Can Hypnosis Cure Depression?

Before discussing the effectiveness of hypnosis in regards to depression, we always like to discuss what it means to be ‘cured’. For instance, can chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes be cured? No, not really. However, they can be managed, and people can live life with them relatively similarly to how they would live without them.

However, with mental health, we all have this idea that we can ‘will it away’, and there is a hope that hypnosis can just take it away. Unfortunately, it cannot. Nothing can really cure depression, as it is a complex problem and there is no quick fix. 

Depression, however, can be managed just like other health conditions, and hypnosis can be a very helpful and effective piece of the puzzle. Used in isolation, hypnosis alone cannot adequately address depression, but it can be highly effective and offers substantial advantages when combined with other therapies.

What is Depression?

It’s important to understand that depression is more than just feeling a little down. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, depression is a leading cause of disability around the globe.

Depression is typically characterized by a persistent loss of interest and feelings of sadness. This mood disorder impacts your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and it interferes with your relationships and daily activities — especially since it builds on itself and creates a negative feedback loop.

The impact of depression can be significant and debilitating. You might feel deep sadness and grief, like you’re stuck in a rut without the ability to change. Or you might be overly concerned with how others view you, and endlessly worry about not being able to live up to other people’s expectations and feel like a failure. Sometimes, you might just feel numb. These feelings can last months or even many years. It might seem impossible to imagine a happier future. 

Other symptoms of depression can include irritability, feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, anxiety, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities and hobbies, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness and self-blame, and either reduced appetite or increased food cravings. There may also be withdrawal from social activities, dependence on alcohol or recreational drugs, and instances of self-harm.

Depression can additionally manifest as problems with weight and eating disorders, destructive habits, lack of confidence and motivation, indecisiveness, and loss of creativity. 

This clinical condition can occur at any age. Because depression is oftentimes a condition in which your brain chemicals are imbalanced, it isn’t something you can simply think your way out of. But even if you’re plagued by self-doubt and negative self-talk, there is hope. Professional help — often involving a combination of therapy, medication, and other supportive and therapeutic activities (such as hypnosis) — can help you feel better.

The Hypnotherapy Approach and How It Helps

Hypnosis provides a space for learning to conceptualize differently — instead of focusing on and identifying with the diagnosis of depression, you can turn your attention to what you can change. Working with a trained and licensed professional, you are more open to constructive suggestions to make beneficial changes.

For instance, hypnosis can be used to help you get better sleep, reduce feelings of sadness, develop more positive thinking, relieve anxiety, reduce chronic pain, improve self-esteem, and gain physical energy. In other words, hypnosis breaks down problems into individual components that can be addressed to encourage positive change.

In a therapeutic setting, hypnosis can be used to address a variety of concerns, from phobias and chronic pain to anxiety and depression. Hypnosis relies on a state of deep relaxation, in which you can explore memories, thoughts, and feelings in a comfortable and safe space.

At NY Health Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy, we will help you target unwanted habits or negative thought patterns that might be worsening your symptoms of depression. You can learn to better control your feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness. When integrated with other therapies, hypnosis can lift your general well-being, boost your outlook, and increase your feelings of hopefulness.

When used in combination with other therapies, hypnosis can be particularly effective in treating depression, grief, and loss. Hypnosis can counteract the emotional, social, and professional withdrawal of depression, support you in summoning internal strengths and motivation, and help you envision a more positive future.

When hypnosis is integrated into therapy, you can more easily change your internal dialogue from “I can’t do this” to “I want to do this.” This helps transform a pessimistic and helpless outlook into hopefulness and active agency, so that you can create greater meaning and purpose in your life.

Once you have a better understanding of your depressive cycles and limiting beliefs — including self-criticism — hypnosis allows you to visualize positive outcomes while you build greater emotional awareness, self-compassion, and social support. 

What Does The Research Say about Hypnosis?

Because there are many factors — biological, psychological, and social — that contribute to depression, it is unlikely that a single form of treatment will be effective.

Research has shown a host of benefits from combining hypnosis with therapy for the treatment of depression, including encouraging a sense of empowerment and reducing depressive symptoms. This integrated approach has been shown to alleviate depression to a greater degree than therapy alone, and this effect is maintained even after therapy has ended.

A study published by the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in 2010 on the effectiveness of hypnosis in treating depression found that subjects who were treated with hypnosis had larger reductions in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness than subjects who were treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) alone; and these results were maintained over time.

There are examples of people recovering from depression when they’re able to think more clearly, develop positive thinking and hopefulness, improve decision-making and impulse control, reduce rumination, improve their social interactions and coping skills, and take meaningful action. These are all areas where hypnosis can be integrated into therapy to produce constructive results.

When used in conjunction with traditional therapy methods, hypnosis is also appropriate for addressing comorbid concerns that often accompany depression, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, social phobias, substance abuse, chronic pain, and anxiety.

All treatment for depression should have the goal of empowerment, so that the client is able to cultivate new skills, strategies, and resources. Hypnosis encourages and facilitates this growth and discovery, and is helpful in developing greater resilience, reducing the experience of sadness and grief, and promoting a more positive outlook.

If you are struggling with clinical depression, hypnosis alone is not an adequate treatment. However, when hypnosis is used in combination with other therapy modalities by a trained and licensed professional, it can offer more significant benefits and relief in a shorter period of time.

Our Depression & Grief Experts are Clinical Psychologists at NY Health Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy that specialize in combining hypnosis and therapy for depression and sadness. To get in touch or learn more about how combining therapy and hypnosis can help you, please contact us here.

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