Research has shown that hypnotherapy can help to relieve anxiety, fear and panic attacks. It can also be used to help in coping with the symptoms of panic disorder. While under hypnosis, a person with panic disorder is guided to bring attention to coping with specific symptoms and overcoming limiting behaviors.
For example, once the hypnotherapist has helped the client become relaxed, he/she may ask the person to focus on their panic attacks. The person will bring awareness to the physical sensations, emotions, and cognitions associated with their attacks, such as chest pain, shaking, and fear. The hypnotherapist will use calming words of encouragement, such as “You feel safe despite your discomfort” or “You are in control of your anxiety.” The hypnotherapist will also suggest ways to help you cope with these feelings, such as “Taking deep breaths during your panic attacks makes you feel calmer.” All of these suggestions are given to the unconscious part of your mind, so that it now has new ways of coping in certain situations. Panic attacks are an unconscious conditioned response, which can be unconditioned by putting the new desired behavior in its place.
Hypnotherapy can also be used in the treatment of agoraphobia, a common condition for people with panic disorder. Agoraphobia involves a fear of having panic attacks under restrictive circumstances, including crowds or while driving. Hypnotherapy can allow a person to learn how to remain relaxed while facing these fears. The hypnotherapist can help the person focus on getting past their phobias and suggest ways to remain relaxed when in feared environments.
Hypnotherapy can help a person with panic disorder improve self-esteem, overcome negative thinking, and manage troublesome symptoms. Additionally, hypnotherapy can assist in treating common co-occurring conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The overall experience of hypnotherapy can vary from person to person. Many people have reservations about hypnotherapy, fearing that they will lose control of their thoughts and actions. These concerns are understandable considering how often hypnosis has been shown in the media as a way to make people behave in wild and silly ways, however most of this is staged. Hypnotherapy cannot make you act against your will, and you remain in control at all times. Hypnotherapy actually helps you to build self-awareness and overcome unwanted behaviors.
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