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 Therapy in the hypnosis trance state

Bruni Brewin JP

Australian Hypnotherapists Association -

President Emeritus – AHA (Life)

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(Full Article – 4 pages – in .pdf format may be obtained by emailing Bruni.)

The Beyond Blue National Advertising Campaign (1) states that, “On average, one in five Australians will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.  Around one million adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year and that postnatal depression affects 14 per cent of new mothers.”

Depression is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability in Australia, but only 3 per cent of the population identifies it as a major health problem.   Depression and anxiety can be as serious, debilitating and life-threatening as a physical illness - yet less than half of those experiencing depression seek help.  Depression is not a normal part of ageing.

The Black Dog Institute (2) states that signs of a depressed mood may include, insomnia, weight issues, emotions such as pessimism, anger, irritability and anxiety. Emotions can vary throughout the day, for example, feeling worse in the morning and better as the day goes along.  Some people with depression find it more and more difficult to experience enjoyment, or look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies and interests drop off.  They are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments. Their sex life can change and be absent or reduced.  They have poor concentration and memory, and may feel it doesn't seem worth the effort to do anything.  Often their friendships drop off due to the lack of energy to maintain contact.

The sufferer may be preoccupied with feelings of guilt, worthlessness or death, and may attempt suicide. Alcohol abuse may lead to violence and even murder. Often the problem is not diagnosed, and the sufferer is told to "pull himself together", further compounding feelings of isolation and guilt. Depression can happen to all of us at some time in our lives, and providing these feelings go away they do not present a serious problem.  But if the feelings persist for most of the day for over two weeks duration, and interfere with our ability to cope and manage things both at home or at work, it is therefore suggested that we get a check-up by a skilled professional.  There could also be other medical reasons that cause these symptoms therefore it warrants that we should always check things out, even when we think that we can manage.

The Black Dog Institute(3) states that there are three broadly different types of depression, each with their own features and causes: Melancholic depression,  Non-melancholic depression and Psychotic depression.  

A possible fourth type of depression is:  Atypical depression.  They advise that knowing that there are different types of depression is important because each type responds best to different treatments.

Non-melancholic depression essentially means that it has to do with psychological causes, and is very often linked to stressful events in a person’s life and is the most common of the three types of depression. It affects one in four women and one in six men in the Western world over their lifetime.

There is evidence to suggest that the inflammatory response to stress may be greater in depressed people.  The findings suggest that increased inflammatory responses to stress in depressed patients may be a link between depression and other diseases, including heart disease, as well as contributing to depression itself.  People who suffer from depression also have higher rates of early life stressful experiences, such as loss of a parent at an early age or physical and/or sexual abuse.

Dr Michael Yapko(9), a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist based in California, suggests that  hypnotherapy  can be used to treat depression.  Yapko is internationally recognised for his work in depression and outcome-focused psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, and has had a special interest spanning nearly a quarter century in the intricacies of brief therapy, the clinical applications of directive methods, and in training therapists to treat the disorder of major depression.  He has, for the last thirty years, specialized in the treatment of depression with hypnotherapy.   Yapko stated that "Hypnosis offers a way to conceptualise how human beings construct their individual realities, and how to interact more effectively with others; in clinical hypnosis hypnotic processes are employed as agents of effective communication and change. Our knowledge of depression has greatly improved in recent years, firmly establishing the essential role of psychotherapy in treatment. Whenever psychotherapy is indicated, so are specific identifiable patterns of hypnotic influence, since the two are fundamentally inseparable."  

Dr Linda Edwards,(4)  in her article on Hypnotherapy and Somatic Hypnotherapy, also states  the benefits of hypnotherapy as being a powerful tool for accessing the subconscious. Edwards states that the subconscious is a non-ordinary state of consciousness and that the human psyche is far more amenable to positive change, healing or beneficial reprogramming when we are in an hypnotic state compared to when we are in our usual beta state of consciousness (our thinking mode).  Edwards recommends the work of psychiatrist Dr Stanislav Grof who has written numerous books and research articles on the healing power of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Dr Edwards states there is documented evidence that hypnotherapy compares very favourably with the most popular forms of therapy. Her comments are supported by Dr Alfred A Barrios,(12)  who has reported the following success rates:

Hypnotherapy 93% recovery after 6 sessions (about 1.5 months)

Behaviour Therapy 72% recovery after 22 sessions (about 6 months)

Psychotherapy 38% recovery after 600 sessions (about 11.5 months)

CONCLUSIONS of the full article were:   Around one million adults and 100,000 young people live with depression each year, and depression is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability in Australia.  There are different types of depression.  Some of these go unrecognised and/or undiagnosed and can lead to compounding the symptoms of a person’s depressive problem.   Depression is related to chemical imbalances in the brain, and it is claimed that a shortage of the brain chemical serotonin is the cause.  Since then, SSRIs that are based on the principle of boosting serotonin became the treatment of choice for everything from mild anxiety to suicidal depression, which is supported by the issue of 19 million prescriptions a year for 3.5 million patients.

Melancholic depression, is said to be the most common of all depressions, and is related to events in a person life.  Results show that siblings, parents or children of people diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 31 have a greater chance of having it.  The researchers caution that the results also could point to environmental factors, such as loss of a parent at an early age or physical and sexual abuse.

Chemicals, which determine mood -adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, are produced during exercise and this has shown exercise to be amongst the best-proven alternative treatments.  St John’s Wort was found to be significantly superior to its synthetic competitors and caused no more side effects than a placebo.  Whilst research studies showed the herbal medicine St John’s Wort as the best alternative medical treatment for depression, one research did show that it reacted badly with several prescription drugs, such as anti-coagulants.  It has also been established that people with depression have low levels of EPA (omega-3 fatty acid) in the brain-cell membrane cause depressive symptoms, and by replacing these it was found to be beneficial to both mild and severe types of depression with no adverse side effects.  

There is evidence that some medicines whether herbal or prescribed to treat other conditions could react detrimentally with each other or could give rise to depression.  Opinion suggests that whilst antidepressants can relieve the pain of being depressed, they don’t cure depression.  Complementary therapies such as massage, music therapy, relaxation techniques and yoga are showing encouraging data, although some, such as acupuncture, are showing mixed results.  A number of health establishments recommend counseling and cognitive behavioural therapy for some depression as research has repeatedly shown that they are more effective than drugs.  In recent years substantial high-quality research has assessed treatment of depression with clinical hypnosis contributing to improving therapeutic outcome.   

Note from Bruni*  In my own practice I have come across a client that felt that they may have had a genetic disposition to depression because one of their father and his brother had suffered from depression.  (The client had been on medication off and on for many years but did not feel any benefits from this.)  When looking at the client’s earlier life whilst in the trance state, they observed that their father was so depressed that he was moaning in frustration while she was watching.  The client (as the child) felt as though they were the one that caused the sadness and if they had not been there then daddy would not feel so sad.  This caused the child to feel deeply sad for being there and the client carried this sadness and guilt from childhood to adulthood, the original reason having long been lost to the conscious memory.

I have also come across a client who had also always felt depressed all their life.  No reason came to light in the trance state.  So we decided that as there was no reason that we needed to deal with, that we just release the need to feel depressed using energy psychology in the trance state.

Article Information

Publish Date:

December 2006

Article Name:


- Depression -