Using Hypnosis to Treat Depression Symptoms

May 6th, 2013 Comments Off on Using Hypnosis to Treat Depression Symptoms

This article examines using hypnosis to treat depression symptoms. It looks at underlying contributing factors, as well as additional treatment strategies.

Depression – it comes in all shapes and sizes and does not discriminate. It affects men and women, young and old, every race and all socioeconomic levels. The symptoms vary from person to person, and can become overwhelming and disabling. There are a variety of “types” of depression, some more severe than others.

So What Exactly Is Depression?

We all go through periods of sadness at various times in our lives. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to loss, disappointment, or frustration. Some people call this degree of sadness “depression,” but depression is much more than just sadness.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, you may have heard it described as “living in a black hole” or, having an unrelenting sense of doom. For others, there is no sadness, but instead they feel lifeless, empty, worn-out, or apathetic about life. Some people, men in particular, may feel angry, aggressive, and restless, often for no identifiable reason at all.

Regardless of the symptoms, depression is clearly very different from normal sadness. It consumes your every waking moment, often robbing you of your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Consistently feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless can become overwhelming and unrelenting.

What Causes Depression?

For the lucky ones, depression can be traced to an event, such as having a dead-end job, having just lost a loved one, or suffering from a painful physical condition. I say lucky ones because it is easier to treat depression symptoms that have a known cause. For those suffering depression symptoms with no known cause, treatment is more difficult because knowing the cause of depression helps determine the appropriate treatment.

Understanding the cause of depression symptoms can make it easier to “ride it out,” so to speak, and can motivate you to change the factors causing the symptoms. If you are feeling lonely and sad, for example, you can take steps to get involved in a Meetup, a book club, or additional opportunities to meet others. If you are depressed because you hate your job, you may choose to go to school or get additional training to further your career in another area.

Depression is often the result of loneliness, lack of social support, stressful life experiences, relationship problems, financial strain, substance abuse, trauma and/or abuse, health problems, family history of depression, and more.

My Approach

Just as the symptoms and the causes of depression vary among individuals, so does the course of treatment. At Intuitive Hypnosis in Portland, Oregon, I use a variety of strategies to treat clients that have depression symptoms, or have even been diagnosed with clinical depression. I am not a medical doctor and I do not diagnose depression, nor do I ever recommend that clients begin taking, or cease taking, medication for depression.

Included in my approach to the treatment of depression symptoms is a thorough examination of one’s beliefs and values at a conscious level, compared to one’s beliefs and values at a subconscious level. It is common to experience depression symptoms due to an internal conflict created when our conscious beliefs and values are out of alignment with our subconscious beliefs and values, which are usually acquired early in life. For example, you may have an unrelenting voice in the back of your mind constantly telling you that you’re never good enough, while on the outside, on a conscious level, you “know” you are good enough, and you have evidence to support that, yet that voice of self-doubt is ever present. Over time, this self-doubt can morph into a debilitating case of depression showing itself as procrastination, fear of trying new things, and a decrease in confidence. Using hypnosis, clients are able to release the outdated, inaccurate messages that bleed through from their subconscious to their conscious minds and free themselves of that nagging voice once and for all.

We Are Not Our Thoughts

It is always fun when working with clients to see them actually internalize the fact that we are not our thoughts, anymore than we are our circulation, our respiration, or our digestion. Each of our organs has a job to do, and the job of our brain is to think thoughts; that’s just what it does. Repetitive negative thoughts, which may lead to depression, are like getting a song stuck in your head that you can’t shut off. However, when it’s a song, we don’t generally listen to the words and take them as a true reflection of our life situation. Unfortunately, when we get negative thoughts stuck in our head, we tend to dwell on them, and feed them, and really let them get us down.

Understanding that we are the witness, the observer, or the watcher of our thoughts, can be a very liberating experience. For many people suffering with depression symptoms, this understanding can be the beginning of their way out of depression. We are not our thoughts. We are the awareness of our thoughts; we are the consciousness behind our thoughts.

Unresolved Trauma

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.

Additional Approaches

Other successful strategies include mindfulness training, learning to stay in the present moment, re-training your mind to stay focused on your current situation. Additional avenues to alleviate depression symptoms include the cultivation of supportive relationships, getting good quality sleep each night, eating healthy foods, staying away from alcohol and drugs, practicing self-hypnosis, and removing yourself from negative environments. Not always, but for many, depression and anxiety cannot survive without the stories behind them. By examining those “stories” one piece at a time, letting them go, and focusing on the present moment, it is easy to create the habit of thinking in a way that fosters a positive attitude and perspective on life.

If you are suffering from depression, ask yourself why. What is happening in your life that is making you feel depressed? Then examine the story behind what’s happening. Ask yourself if the thoughts you are thinking are actually true. Do you have the ability to really know if they are true? We all have the power to learn to control the thoughts our minds are thinking. You can alleviate the symptoms of depression with hypnosis. Hypnosis is about changing subconscious programming. If you suspect your depression stems from subconscious programs from the past, programs that are no longer relevant to your current life situation, hypnosis can help. If your depression is related to a current situation that is simply a fact of life, hypnosis can help you from slipping into a pattern of negative thinking about the situation, which only makes it worse.

Conclusion

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression symptoms, help is available. Hypnosis is a safe, effective means of changing your outlook on life and getting you back on track. By incorporating self-hypnosis into your routine, you can train yourself to think positive, to see the good in every situation, to cope with life when difficult situations do arise, and to live a life free from depression.

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