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Hypnosis: Focusing Subconscious on Change

Learn how hypnosis can help you cut back on medications, quit bad habits, and ease stress.

Pain Control Through Hypnosis continued...

Growing numbers of insurance companies, including Medicare, have begun covering hypnosis therapy for pain or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Pain control is just one use for self-hypnosis. Among the others:

Digestive Problems: Chronic indigestion and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been treated with hypnotherapy. Recently, a large, long-term study showed that hypnosis provides sustained improvements in significant numbers of IBS patients. Hypnosis eased abdominal pain, distention, diarrhea, constipation, and other stomach upsets for many years -- even after the patients quit doing self-hypnosis.

Most of the patients took no medication or other treatments for their IBS symptoms. And, since only a couple of medications are approved for IBS, the drug treatment can be expensive long-term. But for those who tried hypnosis, the payoff was having a better quality of life. The procedure also dramatically cut medication expenses.

 

Hypnosis can also help kids who have chronic stomach pain -- the type of pain that is real, but unexplained. The problem results in lost time at school, frequent doctor visits, as well as anxiety and depression, and can last into adult years. But through a combination approach -- relaxation, guided imagery, and hypnosis -- it's possible for kids to gain control over their pain.

Panic Attacks: The onset of a panic attack has a cluster of symptoms: the feeling of intense fear, sense of doom, feelings of unreality, racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, shaking, dizziness, nausea, fear of losing control, tingling or numbness in the hands. Hypnosis has been shown to help some people find relief from panic attacks.

Hypnosis can strengthen the effect of mind over body, researchers say. It can change the way you perceive sensations. By narrowly focusing your attention, you're not overwhelmed by panic attack symptoms when they begin. You are able to relax physically. The attack fades away.

Childbirth: It's known as "hypnobirthing" -- women learning how to hypnotize themselves to manage their labor. It helps them to relax and let their bodies take over. The theory is that, in the absence of fear and tension, severe pain does not have to accompany labor. In this calm state, endorphins -- naturally occurring pain-relieving chemicals -- replace the stress hormones that contribute to pain. Even women choosing more traditional methods, such as painkilling drugs, can still benefit from the stress-relieving power of hypnosis.

Lose Weight, Quit Smoking via Hypnosis?

A "cure" to help us lose weight and quit smoking is the Holy Grail for those who have tried everything. Hypnosis can help -- but it can't do the whole job, NIH researchers say. Only a quack will advertise that he can hypnotize you to lose weight.

Weight Loss: Lifestyle changes matter most here. That means better eating habits and more exercise. But hypnosis can be extremely effective in reinforcing a commitment to lifestyle changes. The

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