The Power of Suggestion: Hypnosis and Your Health
Hypnosis may help control many physical, mental and behavioral problems. Learn how it works and what to expect.
From fear of flying to chronic headaches to anxiety, many people need extra help coping with emotional and physical problems. Some find that hypnosis helps.
You may think of hypnosis as a trancelike state that makes people bark at the sound of a bell or fall asleep when they hear hands clapping. Some people, though, find that hypnosis helps them gain control over certain problems.
Uses for hypnosis
Hypnosis should never replace medical care. Instead, you can ask your doctor about combining it with standard treatment for certain conditions.
Limited research suggests that hypnosis may help manage various problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Fear and anxiety
- Pain during dental procedures
- Bed wetting
- Labor pain
- Cancer pain
- Surgical bleeding
Although some people use hypnosis to try to lose weight or quit smoking, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that it works.
Evidence to date
Some studies have shown that hypnosis may reduce pain and improve the quality of life for people with cancer. However, it cannot slow its progress.
Other studies were done with pregnant women. These studies found that those who were hypnotized before childbirth had shorter and more comfortable labors and deliveries than those who were not.
Some research has even shown that hypnosis can increase pain tolerance and boost the immune system.
More scientific study is needed to see if hypnosis is effective in treating these and other conditions.
How it works
If you are thinking about hypnosis, talk to your doctor first. Make sure to choose a qualified health professional who is trained in the use of clinical hypnosis. He or she should be licensed and certified.
A session starts with the hypnotherapist speaking in soothing tones. He or she may suggest that you focus on images that create a feeling of peace, relaxation, and well-being. This should put you into a restful, but alert, state. At this point, the hypnotherapist will address your problem. For instance, he or she may suggest that you will have less anxiety in the future.
Hypnosis does not work for everyone. You can’t be hypnotized unless you choose to be. Contrary to popular belief, people under hypnosis can’t be made to do something they don’t want to do.
Some people can’t be put into a hypnotic state at all. Some can enter into a deeper trance than others. In time, some people can learn to hypnotize themselves.
In some cases, hypnosis can cause emotional distress. People with certain mental illnesses should not be hypnotized. People who take insulin, sedatives, or heart medications should talk to their doctor before they add hypnosis to their treatment plans. Ask your doctor about any possible complications from hypnosis before you try it.