Hypnosis and PTSD

March 5th, 2013 § 1 comment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating type of anxiety commonly occurring after you’ve seen and/or been through some kind of traumatic experience involving threat of injury or death. During the event, you feel that you have no control over what is happening and it is normal to feel confused, frightened, or angry. If these emotions get worse, or are not resolved, the result may be PTSD. This can disrupt the normal flow of one’s life and the lives of their loved ones. Fortunately, there are some very effective treatments for PTSD, including hypnosis.

PTSD is known by other names such as “shell shock” and “battle fatigue” and is often associated with people, both men and woman, who have served in military combat. However, it can happen to anyone at any age, and can be the result of experiencing, or witnessing, events such as natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. It can also be the result of assault, domestic abuse, sexual abuse (especially in children), terrorism, automobile or other serious accidents, and is present in some people diagnosed with breast cancer. (See for example: Breast Cancer, PTSD, and Hypnosis)

PTSD can occur in individuals even when they don’t actually experience the traumatic event. Simply knowing about, or watching video of a traumatic event can create the same level of PTSD as in those who actually experienced the event. This is because our subconscious mind often does not differentiate between actually experiencing the event, or just imagining that we are experiencing the event. In this case, this trait is to our detriment. At Intuitive Hypnosis in Portland, OR, we take this trait of the subconscious mind and use it to our benefit to help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD using strategies such as future pacing, coupled with deep relaxation. Future pacing is a technique where we “practice” the event we want in the privacy of our own minds. It is through the repetition of this practice that we are able to alter the neural pathways in our brain, which then translate to different feelings and behaviors.

The symptoms of PTSD are different for everyone and can show up very gradually, or as a sudden panic attack, and are often triggered by something related to the initial event. Talking about or even just thinking about the event can trigger a very painful and intense panic attack for some. Although the details are different for everyone, the symptoms do seem to fall into 3 main categories as shown from: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and hypnosis

  1. Re-experiencing the traumatic event
    • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
    • Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
    • Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
    • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
    • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)


  2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma
    • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
    • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
    • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
    • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
    • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)


  3. Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
    • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
    • Irritability or outbursts of anger
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Hyper-vigilance (on constant “red alert”)
    • Feeling jumpy and easily startled

PTSD is treatable. Hypnosis can be an effective means of diffusing and/or eliminating the symptoms associated with trauma and PTSD. Many people with PTSD learn to lead normal lives on their own, while others take advantage of alternative therapies such as hypnosis.

If you suffer from persistent feelings of fear, anxiety, and unease, you may be suffering from PTSD, even if you can’t recall what created the problem in the first place. Help is available. It’s never too late to learn how to relax and relate to life from a different perspective.

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§ One Response to Hypnosis and PTSD

  • […] Developing the ability to be the witness, or observer of our thoughts, also helps in overcoming a common underlying cause of depression symptoms, which is unresolved trauma from our past. When we are young and have intensely painful experiences, whether the pain is physical, psychological, or both, the part of our brain responsible for processing that information gets overloaded and is unable to process it properly. As a result, the emotions we experienced got stuck in the brain in sort of a feedback loop. This occurs primarily in the subconscious, so we have little or no awareness of what’s happening. As we gain skill in being the observer of our thoughts, we create a space in which the unresolved energy of past emotions can arise and dissipate. Since hypnosis is about reaching the subconscious, it can be used to help the subconscious know that it can let those things come to the surface, in a way that the conscious mind can process. When this happens, the energy of the feedback loop gets dissipated, and the depression symptoms tend to lessen. Any non-useful beliefs created because of the trauma can be seen as no longer necessary to keep us safe, and we can choose to let them go. When we let go of those kinds of limiting beliefs we generally experience a decrease of depression symptoms and an increased feeling of aliveness and well-being. For more information about using hypnosis and trauma see Hypnosis and PTSD. […]

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