Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Russell in Patterson, New Jersey. I’ve seen a lot of videos on YouTube on how hypnosis can help with anxiety. Is there any scientific study behind it that can help? I don’t want to take anxiety medication.
Remember. Anyone can post a YouTube video or write an article claiming anything they want. The internet is packed with misinformation and fallacies for this reason.
The science of hypnosis indicates that it’s very weak and an unreliable method of treatment. Most of the claims of the effectiveness of hypnosis cannot be scientifically verified or can be attributed to the placebo effect. Hypnosis is a natural variation in human consciousness which has been made into something very mysterious and magical. It’s neither mysterious nor magical. It’s a state of focused hyperawareness. We all slide into hypnotic states several times a day. Driving on a very familiar stretch of road and arriving at our destination, we realize that we barely recall the last 10 or 20 miles of our trip. Getting absorbed into a good novel or movie is another example.
Some possible applications for relief of specific phobias could be, for example, if you’re afraid of elevators but you have to ride on one, you would place yourself in a hypnotic state and then emerge from it when you got off the elevator. In this way, you would be mentally absent for the elevator ride and not experience anxiety. Or you could spend about $5 on a magazine and walk into the elevator reading it and continue reading it until it was time to step off the elevator. Or you could listen to your favorite song on ear buds or count backwards from 30 or 60. Any type of distraction could be helpful and much simpler and more cost effective than hypnosis.
There are many psychotherapeutic interventions to manage anxiety that are more powerful and reliable than hypnosis and that do not involve medications. CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence based treatment method which is highly effective for managing anxiety. DB or diaphragmatic breathing also known as tactical breathing is another very simple but effective method of managing anxiety which you can learn and practice in the psychotherapist’s office. PMR or progressive muscle relaxation is another simple office taught method of controlling anxiety.