Hypnotherapy for anxiety with Dean Efthimiou
If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, I can help – including offering advice on how to overcome it, and how long treatment is likely to take.
There are a number of effective psychological treatments available that generally involve seeing a therapist for between 5 to 20 sessions, depending on the severity and type of problem. I often integrate a form of mindfulness as part of treatment – however, for some specific fears, anxiety hypnotherapy can help provide a solution in as little as one session.
Treatments will vary depending on the kind of anxiety you are facing. They all involve discussing your symptoms with me, carrying out exercises, setting goals, and planning how to manage anxiety between sessions.
For more information on the hypnotherapy for anxiety I offer, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Or, to find out more, please see the information below.
Anxiety has causes at several levels. By considering these causes, you may gain a better understanding of how I can help you to reduce your anxiety in therapy.
In the primitive world where mankind evolved, detecting nearby threats was a matter of life and death, therefore vigilance and an anxiety response, supposedly kept our ancestors alive. Anxiety is said to remain useful now when it motivates us to get away from real dangers. I do not necessarily accept this theory because a calm, focus person can often be much more alert than an anxious one.
Never the less, the world has changed, and our bodies continue to react as though we were in that primitive world even when we are not. When anxiety affects our ability to work, socialise, or go out, then it is no longer helpful. I can help you learn to override your more primitive motivations with a combination of rational thought and mindfulness to control your behaviour in the face of anxiety.
In a society where fear sells products and incites people to support political causes, marketers and politicians can influence how unsafe we feel. We also want to know and find headlines of new threats and dangers exciting. But the availability of all these scare stories makes us overestimate the likelihood of threats occurring: we don’t hear about all the times when all was well and nothing happened! News about diseases adds to health anxiety, news about the economy adds to Generalised Anxiety, news about violent crime adds to agoraphobia, and news of traumas adds to PTSD. I can help you to put these fears into perspective.
We learn a lot about what’s dangerous from the groups we’re members of: Our family shares stories of dangers. Our peers face some dangers and worry about others. Our employer bombards us with safety messages. Our friends send us messages of upcoming threats. Then those groups tell us how we should respond to threats. And they suggest what will happen to us if we don’t respond as they would wish and this type of conditioning becomes our belief. I can help you reconsider the messages you’ve received, learn to constructively alter your filters of perception and ultimately make your own decisions.
We often get anxious about the relationships that are important to us. Past relationships can set us up for fears in current relationships. We feel mistrust and paranoia. We may react, by concealing our fears or by going “over the top”. We may play subtle mind games with others to manage our anxiety, which end up damaging our relationships. I can help you learn to identify the games you play and find more straightforward ways to get the support you need.
Anxiety is above all a problem for us as individuals, and it is at this level that most of the work in therapy for anxiety occurs. I can help you examine the individual experiences, recent and past, which trigger your anxiety. You’ll learn to change or get used to those triggers and the memories associated with them. Second we uncover and challenge the beliefs and thoughts (“cognitions”) which those trigger experiences have evoked in you. Third, we look at the motivations and feelings which follow on from your thoughts and beliefs. You’ll practice calming those feelings, or changing your priorities so that you can accept unwelcome motivations and feelings more easily. Fourth, we’ll review the strategies with which you’ve tried to manage anxiety in the past. Many people avoid what makes them anxious. Step by step we’ll help you to learn to approach and problem-solve anxiety-provoking situations. Fifth, we’ll look at the behaviours which anxiety has provoked from you, and work to introduce new and more constructive behaviours.
The biological basis of anxiety is in our neurology and the chemicals which the brain releases to create the anxiety response. Our neurology varies with our genes and our life experience. Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to anxiety, but whether that turns into an anxious personality depends on what happens to them and how they’re taught to deal with it. Some people get diseases which change their neurology and their metabolism to activate the anxiety response. Still others take medications and recreational drugs which trigger an anxiety response. My role is to help you change your neurology by retraining your brain to respond with less anxiety to the things which threaten you. In studies, brain scans have shown that therapy helps the brain grow new neural pathways which underpin new behaviours. Mindfulness and hypnosis in particular are in my opinion, the fastest and most effective way to do this.
Each person’s problem with anxiety is unique, because each person and each life is unique. However science has uncovered seven major types of anxiety, called anxiety disorders or diagnoses. Your anxiety problem is likely to be made up of one or more of these disorders, and an important element of successfully treating anxiety problems is for the therapist to work out how the disorders combine to create the problem. Please read on to find a brief description of each disorder, how common it is, what therapy works best for it, and how easy it is to treat:
- Phobias are excessive fears of particular objects or situations. Common phobias include fear of flying, insects such as spiders, snakes, socialising, blood, heights, enclosed spaces, animals, and medical procedures.
- A person with a phobia will experience symptoms of anxiety or panic when exposed to the feared object or situation, and will try to avoid contact with it. They may realise that their fear is exaggerated but be unable to face the feared object. The fear then starts to constrain where they can go and what they can do, to the point where it can threaten relationships, jobs, and health.
- Up to 11% of people will suffer from a phobia at some point in their life, with most cases developing between the ages of 7 and 14.
- The treatment of choice for most phobias is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which includes gradually getting the person more comfortable with the situation or object they fear (called graded exposure), in a way that lets them learn that their anxiety and symptoms will reduce the longer they stay in the fear situation. In studies, between 70 and 85% of people have significantly improved after an average of 5 sessions. I believe Hypnotherapy works at least twice as fast as CBT and I have often resolved phobias in one session.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
- PTSD is the medical name for the anxiety which can develop after we experience an event which is so frightening that we think that we or people with us are in danger of ceasing to exist. The threat can be to our life or our selfhood. Common causes of PTSD include being a witness or victim of war, violence, natural disaster, sexual abuse, rape, road traffic accidents, medical operations, injury, or bullying.
- Common symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares, which can lead us to avoid places, people, events, or items which remind us of the event. Depression and insomnia are also common symptoms that many sufferers experience.
- Between 2 and 10% of people will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime.
- Currently, the psychological treatments recommended for PTSD by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence are either Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In studies, these treatments help about 50-70% of people recover over an average of 9 sessions. Depending on the level of trauma, I may often recommend and work alongside other specialists in this area.
OBSESSIVE COMPLULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)
- OCD is the medical name for a pattern of obsessions and compulsions which significantly reduce a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Obsessions are thoughts and impulses which a person considers intrusive or inappropriate, and which cause them distress or anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive mental or behavioural actions which a person performs in response to the obsession, often to reduce distress.
- Around 3% of people will suffer from OCD some time in their lifetime, with the majority of cases developing in early adolescence/young adulthood (13-24 yrs).
- Currently, the most effective treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) combined with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). In studies, 75% of people who have these treatments are significantly improved or recovered after an average of 20 sessions. Once again, Clinical Hypnotherapy can have much faster results when done correctly.
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the medical name for excessive and uncontrollable fear or worry about a range of things, such as relationships, work, health, and finances. People suffering with generalised anxiety disorder tend to spent a lot of their time feeling on edge, restless, tense, or irritable, can find it hard to concentrate, often tire easily, and have poor sleep.
- About 6% of people will suffer from GAD at some point in their life, and the problem develops on average in a person’s 20s (27 for men, 20 for women).
- Learning to think and feel in the moment of NOW is one of the most effective form of treatments which is also known as Mindfulness.
- Health Anxiety the fear of having or getting a serious illness when the medical evidence says otherwise.
- People with health anxiety think harmless sensations such as a sore throat are symptoms of a serious illness which will kill them or ruin their life. The only thing stopping them from panicking is that their death is not imminent.
- When they have health anxiety people either avoid seeing the doctor in case their fear is confirmed, or they get multiple medical examinations and tests which produce null results, that fail to reassure them for long.
- I have treated a number of people with this condition and even though it is not an area of specialty, a combination of Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness practice have helped achieve good results.
- Social Anxiety is a fear of social interactions and being evaluated on one’s performance. People suffering from social anxiety fear that they will say or do something embarrassing. They often worry that people will notice them sweating, blushing or shaking.
- Most people feel anxious in some social situations, and some people are naturally shy, but people who suffer from social anxiety also either avoid social situations or perform inadequately in those situations as a result of their anxiety.
- Between 2-4% of people will suffer from social anxiety at some point in their lives, and the problem tends to develop somewhere between childhood and adolescence.
- Mindfulness based approaches can help create a non-judgemental perspective towards how we view ourselves.
PANIC AND AGORAPHOBIA
- Panic is a rapid increase of anxiety, combined with unpleasant sensations such as sweating, dizziness and a racing heart, which lead a person to believe that they are about to catastrophically cease to function or even die. Individual panic attacks tend to last from one to about 10 minutes, but panic can continue at a lower level for hours, as one panic attack succeeds another.
- Panic attacks can seem to come “out of the blue”, or they may be triggered by particular situations. Sufferers often worry about when they will another attack, so they remain vigilant for symptoms and avoid trigger situations. Unfortunately this pattern of vigilance and avoidance only makes it more likely they will have another panic attack.
- Panic and avoidance of trigger situations can lead to Agoraphobia, where a person’s life becomes significantly restricted by being unable to stay in places associated with panic.
- Up to 7% of people will suffer from panic or agoraphobia in their lifetime, and it tends to develop in a person’s late 20s to early 30s.
- Mindfulness based stress reduction techniques combined with Hypnotherapy for reprogramming and desensitizing are my tools in treatment.