Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Presurgery Anxiety? Hypnosis May Help

Easing Anxiety May Make for a Smoother, Less Painful Recovery
WebMD Health News

Oct. 25, 2005 -- Hypnosis could help soothe anxiety before surgery, new research shows.

Doctors at Yale University's medical school reported the news at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting.

They tested hypnosis on a small group of adults right before outpatient surgery.

Their finding: Hypnosis worked. After one hypnosis session, patients were less anxious about their operation than they had been just half an hour before.

Less Anxiety Before, Less Pain Later

Why do presurgery jitters matter? They've been linked to greater pain, increased need for painkillers, and longer hospital stays after surgery, write the researchers.

"We all know that anxiety increases the chances of postoperative pain, postoperative analgesic consumption, and also hospital stay and recovery," researcher Haleh Saadat, MD, tells WebMD.

"We were hoping that by using behavioral modification like hypnosis programs, preoperatively, we can get rid of the [postoperative] complications," she says.

Saadat is an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Yale's medical school.

Presurgery Jitters

Saadat's study included 76 patients of similar backgrounds. They were approached in a waiting room before getting any type of outpatient surgery.

First, the patients took surveys that gauged their anxiety level.

Then, 26 patients got a 25-30 minute hypnosis session. Another 26 patients got caring attention and support for the same amount of time. For comparison, 24 other patients just sat there for half an hour, without hypnosis or special attention.

Next, all of the patients took the anxiety surveys again. They took the survey a third time -- right before surgery, in the operating room, where they "saw the knives and everything," says Saadat.

Easing Anxiety

Patients were less anxious after hypnosis, even in the operating rooms, the surveys showed.

Right after hypnosis, anxiety levels were 68% lower than in the waiting room. In the operating room, the hypnosis group's anxiety levels were still less than half of what they had originally been, says Saadat.

Caring attention helped a bit at first, cutting anxiety by 10%. But the effect wore off in the operating room, when patients' anxiety level was 10% higher than it had been in the waiting room.

The comparison group fretted the most. Their anxiety levels were up 17% in the second survey and then shot through the roof. Those patients' anxiety levels were 47% higher in the operating room than in the waiting room.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections