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How Effective is Hypnosis for Panic Attacks?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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If a person finds herself becoming intensely fearful seemingly without apparent reason, she may be experiencing a panic attack or anxiety attack. These episodes put both a physical and mental strain on the person experiencing them, to the point where it may feel like she’s experiencing a heart attack or dying. Panic attack treatments are hit and miss, since the exact cause of panic attacks is unknown to scientists and doctors. Hypnosis for panic attacks is considered a valid and accepted complementary therapy that has some effect at reducing the severity or frequency of anxiety attacks.

Hypnosis is the art of altering a person's consciousness so that the person feels calm, at ease and open to suggestion. The overall goal of hypnosis for panic attacks is to help a person gain control of her symptoms and learn to cope with the situations that trigger an anxiety attack. Like other anxiety treatments, hypnosis is not 100% effective for each and every person.

A typical hypnosis session begins with the therapist encouraging the client to relax until he or she sinks into a trance-like state. This is accomplished with soothing words, ambient music and a generally relaxed atmosphere. Depending upon the method used, the session may involve the therapist guiding the client through a series of visualizations or meditations in which she views herself in control of her anxiety.

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Because of the lengthy process involved in putting a person into a trance-like state, hypnosis for panic attacks is not a quick fix for use during or immediately after an attack, but rather as ongoing maintenance for the condition or for preventing panic attacks in the future. While hypnosis is ineffective as an immediate fix for panic attacks, people suffering from anxiety disorders may benefit from the calming and soothing feeling provided by a hypnotherapist during a time of crisis, even if they are unable to achieve true hypnosis.

Other alternative and complementary therapies effective in the control and treatment of panic disorders include meditation and deep breathing. These treatments may be combined with hypnosis for panic attacks depending on the client's individual needs. Relaxation techniques have been found by researchers to be almost as effective as traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating anxiety disorders in some people.

Hypnosis does not involve a loss of free will or control over a person’s bodily actions. When administered by a licensed hypnotherapist, hypnosis is considered a relatively safe and low-risk alternative and complementary therapy for treating anxiety. Hypnosis for panic attacks should not replace conventional medical treatment. A person should speak to a doctor, therapist or another trusted health care provider to determine whether hypnotherapy is right for her.

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