Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t a synonym for feeling sad. And anyone who’s experience depression knows this all to well.
Depression is a serious mental illness, and its many sufferers – up to 16 million adults in the U.S. alone – experience daily bouts of hopelessness, fatigue, a racing mind, aches and pains. In other words, it’s much deeper than just sadness – depression hijacks the mind and body.
Now, you might be wondering: What does hypnotherapy have to do with depression? Can something as simple as hypnosis really offer relief for depression?
To answer that question, we have to dig a little deeper – into the subconscious mind.
Knowing how the subconscious works can help us understand why hypnosis is effective for depression (and depression’s underlying causes).
Depression and the Subconscious Mind
Many of our beliefs, emotions and memories reside in the subconscious. In fact, everything we experience gets filtered through this repository of information.
Most of the time, the subconscious is helpful
We see a butterfly at the park, and we’re able to identify it instantly. That’s because buried up there in the subconscious is a lot of useful information. We filter our experiences through this database, and – in a fraction of a second – the subconscious helps us make sense of the world around us.
But the subconscious can hold a lot of unhelpful information. Negative filters can become deeply embedded in the subconscious. And these filters can then influence our moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings.
How we respond to stress, for example, is controlled almost entirely and automatically by the subconscious. If a stressful event drives you to anxiousness, or anger, or frustration – that’s probably how your mind told you to feel.
The good news is we can train our subconscious mind to be more supportive, more helpful and a better friend.
And specifically for depression, we can reprogram the subconscious to better manage and release many of the underlying causes of depression, like drug addiction, stress and worry, or negative self-talk.
In a nutshell, hypnosis for depression helps us release many of the negative thinking patterns, bad habits, and suppressed memories that negatively limit the mind. At the same time, hypnosis can improve our coping abilities, help us get in touch with past positive memories, and enhance the effectiveness for traditional depression treatments, like cognitive behavior therapy.
How Does Hypnosis for Depression Work?
Hypnosis is a highly relaxed, uber-focused state of mind that we the majority of people can reach by following a few relaxation and focusing techniques. In fact, being under “hypnosis,” is a lot like practicing meditation.
But there’s one key difference: Hypnosis has a goal.
This highly relaxed state allows us to shed the conscious, critical mind. And when we’re under hypnosis, we can speak directly to the subconscious. In fact, research brain research suggests that under hypnosis the mind becomes highly susceptible to new information and new ways of thinking.
That means we can feed the subconscious mind information during hypnosis – like suggestions and positive affirmations – and they stick. We can reteach the subconscious how to make sense of the world around us.
That’s why we say hypnosis is meditation with a goal. We’re entering this state not to just relax the mind and body – but also to reshape our unconscious thoughts and promote positive thinking.
For depression specifically, hypnotherapy offers a few key benefits.
Hypnosis for depression allows us to retrain the subconscious. We can, in fact, override those automatic thinking patterns that keep habits, negative thoughts and irrational responses (all factors that can contribute to depression) in place
Treating the Root Cause
A number of external and personal factors can increase the chance of depression. For example, drug abuse affects millions of adults globally and it has close ties with depression. About one-third of addicts are clinically depressed.
Low self-esteem, obesity and even stressful life events like a starting a new job can also exacerbate depression.
Hypnosis, therefore, can help depression sufferers release and overcome many of these related habits. In particular, depression hypnosis might focus on:
How we talk to and feel about ourselves has a great influence over our mood. Yet, the subconscious can get filled with harmful beliefs and negative thoughts.
We learn to hate the way we look. Or we learn to always assume that we’re not good enough.
Through repetition, these underlying thoughts start to stick. And therefore, whenever we look in the mirror or face a difficult task – the negative invades our thoughts. The subconscious makes see what it wants us to believe.
Hypnosis can be a powerful tool for overcoming low self-esteem and negative self-talk. During hypnosis, we feed the subconscious new, positive affirmations about ourselves, and we can begin to release many of those old, automatic thinking patterns that dominate our inner voice.
Many of the thinking patterns that keep addictions in place are buried in the subconscious. Addiction hijacks the mind and body.
Addictions tell you to crave. They encourage you to find your next fix.
Controlling and reversing these habits of mind are important for overcoming addiction. And that’s something hypnosis empowers you to do.
Using hypnosis, we can begin to A) recognize our irrational thoughts like cravings, and B) gain control over them. In fact, many studies have confirmed that hypnosis shows promise in relieving drug addiction.
Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety, which is often caused by stress, is frequently an irrational response to the world around us. We experience a stressful event, and the subconscious triggers the anxiety
We can get into a pretty unhealthy feedback loop of feeling anxiety. Hypnosis allows us to calm the mind, recognize the thinking patterns that can make us feel anxious, and control our thoughts in stressful situations.
Obesity increases the chance for depression, by as much as much as 55 percent. Many depressed people also turn to food to cope, which contributes to weight gain during a bout of depression.
Hypnosis helps to diminish the automatic thinking patterns that drive us to eat unhealthy foods or to overeat.
In particular, we can train the subconscious to think negatively about unhealthy eating, or we can teach ourselves to become in tune with our natural feelings of hunger. And there’s ample research to back this up. Several studies have shown that hypnosis is a highly effective weight loss aid, helping people to lose more weight and keep it off long term.
Insomnia not only can exacerbate depression, it’s also often a symptom of depression. Many people suffer from insomnia because they have trouble shutting down the mind at night.
Hypnosis can improve insomnia in a few ways. Practicing hypnosis prior to bed, for example, has been shown to help people reach deeper levels of sleep for longer. Why? Because hypnosis enables us to power down the mind, and reach a daydream-like mental state. This allows us to fall asleep more quickly, and ultimately spend more time in REM sleep.
Additionally, hypnosis can help us overcome conditions like anxiety or stress that are causing us to have trouble falling asleep.
Other Ways Hypnosis Helps with Depression
Beyond improving underlying conditions, hypnosis can influence how we manage depression. For example, learning coping skills empowers us to handle many events and emotions that can trigger a depressive event – and hypnosis has been shown to enhance coping ability.
Hypnosis can also enhance traditional therapies for depression, like cognitive behavioral therapy.
Here are some ways that hypnosis for depression can provide a lift in mood and help us manage symptoms:
Fostering Coping Skills
When we learn to cope with the world around us, we can limit the impact triggers have on our mood. Hypnosis empowers our ability to cope in a few ways.
First, we learn to recognize the mind’s response to a triggering event. Those automatic thoughts that we’d never before considered we can see them as they emerge. Hypnosis can also alter the way we respond to these triggers.
Research suggest that hypnosis can be effective for improving our ability to cope, which can, in turn, help us manage depression more effectively.
Remembering Past Positivity
Reliving and remembering our lives before depression can be a powerful tool for encouraging a lift in mood. Hypnosis helps us do this in two ways.
First, we can unpack and revisit positive past experiences. We might remember who we were, what we were like, and what happiness meant to us. And secondly, by revisiting these experiences, we can begin to reteach the subconscious how to return to that state.
Enhancing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Numerous studies have examined how hypnosis can work in tandem with traditional depression treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is one of the most popular, and studies have shown that hypnosis can amplify the impact of CBT.
In other words, hypnosis frees the mind to be more receptive to CBT, as well as increase our expectation of the benefits of CBT. Both effects result in treatments improving. One small study, for example, concluded that utilizing CBT in tandem with hypnosis provided a “more effective treatment in a shorter time.”
Does Depression Hypnosis Work?
Today, researchers are taking hypnosis seriously. And more and more studies are being published about hypnotherapy’s effectiveness for a range of conditions, including depression.
That’s a good sign.
Hypnosis has been studied for hundreds of years, but in the last century, it’s been primarily been associated with nightclub sideshows. And scientists hadn’t taken a serious interest, since about the 1970s.
So the research is all relatively new, but many promising results have been published. What does the research say about hypnosis?
A 1995 study compared two groups – one receiving CBT, and one receiving CBT with hypnosis. Following the study, researchers concluded that 75 percent from the CBT + hypnosis group fared better than those who didn’t receive hypnosis.
Author and clinical psychologist Michael Yapko has written numerous books on the subject, including Hypnosis and the Treatment of Depressions, which highlights key ways hypnosis can help. Yapko concludes in his 1992 book that hypnosis can help:
- Improve our expectations about treatment
- Modify thinking patterns that contribute to depression
Hypnosis research has also shown promising results for a host of contributing conditions, including insomnia, drug addiction, low self-esteem and encouraging weight loss.
Getting Started with Hypnosis: Learning Self-Hypnosis
One of the greatest things about hypnosis is that you can learn it. Much like learning how to meditate, we can teach ourselves the steps to reach hypnosis and to empower the subconscious once we get there.
Performing hypnosis at home by yourself is called, not-so-surprisingly, “self-hypnosis.”
And for many people suffering from depression, self-hypnosis is one of the best options. They can try it out; practice it whenever they can find time, and they use it whenever needed, i.e. after a triggering event or during an unexpected bout of depression.
So how do you learn self-hypnosis? And what do you need to get started?
Basic self-hypnosis requires that you find a quiet space in the home with a comfortable upright chair. When you sit, you recite a self-hypnosis script — and there are many available for depression, mood, anxiety or any condition that contributes to depression.
It’s really that simple. You can start today and try it wherever you are.
Beyond following basic hypnosis scripts, practitioners have two options, including:
- Hypnosis Recordings: This is similar to self-hypnosis, but the key difference is you listen to a recording. Recorded hypnosis recordings offer convenience.
- 1-on-1 Hypnotherapy: You can visit a certified hypnotherapist and receive 1-on-1 sessions. A key benefit of 1-on-1 hypnotherapy is that you have a chance to talk with a professional about your depression, your triggers and experiences. The hypnotherapist then uses this information to customize your hypnosis plan.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
Start feeling better today with hypnosis. We offer a variety of tools, including recordings and scripts, to help you get started on your journey right now!