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Coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through hypnotherapy

The horrors of a terror attack are immediate and frightening but for the heroes who rush in and do their duty to help the injured and make things safe, the after effects can be long lasting and debilitating.The attack by a suicide bomber, targeting young people leaving a pop concert in Manchester, will leave scars for a long time – not only for those who lost loved ones but also those who were there and survived.For most of us, dealing with the horror of such an event is difficult; for those who survived, were injured or lost loved ones, it is even harder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often suffered by people involved in such events.

Already stories are emerging of emergency workers who say the harrowing scenes will stay with them for a long time. One, Adam Williams, told the BBC of the ‘harrowing’ experience of working through the night trying to save people and said ‘what he saw, what he did’ were constantly going through his mind. He added: “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of that.”

And that is a worry many will face but PTSD can be overcome.

According to the NHS, PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events and someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, maybe even experiencing feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. It is estimated that the disorder affects about 1 in every three people who have had a traumatic experience, although it is not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not, adds the NHS.

“While it is normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, most people improve naturally over a few weeks,” says the NHS. “You should visit your GP if you or your child is still having problems about four weeks after the traumatic experience, or if the symptoms are particularly troublesome. If necessary, your GP can refer you to mental health specialists for further assessment and treatment.”

This could include being prescribed medication – but there can be side-effects – or some form of talking therapy such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Talking therapies involves treatment that can help the PTSD sufferer feel more in control of their emotions and result in fewer symptoms, although there might still be some bad memories.

Signs of PTSD include intrusive flashbacks of the moment; nightmares or recurring bad dreams; insomnia; sudden bouts of rage or temper tantrums; the inability to relax and continuing stress, tension or fears. Often these are caused by a ‘trigger event’ which causes the PTSD sufferer to relive those horrific events.

Clinical hypnotherapy has a proven record in treating anxiety, stress, PTSD and other similar issues as the hypnotherapist will work with the subconscious mind and identify and treat those ‘triggers’, allowing the person understand them and cope with them in the future.

A fully qualified National Council for Hypnotherapy therapist – of which there are almost 2,000 across the UK – can help a PTSD sufferer understand their current thought patterns so that they can identify those that are harmful and unhelpful.

The aim of hypnotherapy is to unlock stored emotion so that the trauma can be revisited and explored from a different perspective and there are various forms of hypnotherapy a practitioner may use and in order to determine which is the most suitable, says the NCH.

“In some cases, a therapist could use cognitive hypnotherapy or analytical hypnotherapy, both of which function on a deeper level than suggestion hypnotherapy and are able to work with the unconscious mind so that negative beliefs which were built up during the trauma can be explored and alleviated.”

During hypnotherapy sessions, sufferers can learn to come to terms with their trauma and gain a sense of control over their fear. By focusing on realistic thoughts, they can avoid falling back into negative thinking patterns whenever they encounter a trigger.

Social media platforms can cause anxiety and lead to mental health issues

A survey in the UK has revealed that Instagram is rated as the worst social media platform in terms of its impact on young people’s mental health and the Royal Society for Public Health says social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis’ in young people.

The BBC reported that the poll asked 1,479 people aged 14-24 to score popular apps on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image. About 90% of young people use social media – more than any other age group – so they are particularly vulnerable to its effects, although it is not clear what these are on current evidence.

And, while mental health charities have urged companies to act to increase users’ safety, Instagram said keeping the platform a safe and supportive place for young people was a top priority.

The RSPH report said social platforms should flag up heavy social media use and identify users with mental health issues and, while there is the threat of a mental health crisis, it added that social media can also be used as a tool for good and Instagram claimed it provides tools and information on how to cope with bullying and warns users before they view certain content.

The survey showed that YouTube was considered to have the most positive impact on mental health, followed by Twitter and then Facebook with Snapchat and Instagram given the lowest scores overall.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “It is interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

In light of the findings, public health experts are calling for social media platforms to introduce a series of checks and measures to help tackle mental health, and the report also recommends that NHS England comes up with a vetting scheme for health and well-being information so young people are better able to judge whether information is trustworthy.

“As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a ‘wild West’ when it comes to young people’s mental health and well-being,” Cramer added.

Earlier studies have also shown that social media can be addictive and have warned of its dangers to mental health among younger people and Tom Madders, from mental health charity YoungMinds, said: “Increasing safety within social media platforms is an important step and one we urge Instagram and other sites to act upon. But it’s also important to recognise that simply ‘protecting’ young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution.”

Dealing with addictive or unwanted habits is among successful treatments clinical hypnotherapy can offer and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has almost 2,000 highly-trained therapists across the UK who can offer such help.

The NCH warns that addictive habits can be something people feel they have no control over which can affects their lives the lives and make them unhappy or cause a risk to their health and the health of those around them.

“If you have an unwanted habit or behaviour, it may often feel as if you are out of control, that there is someone else or something inside of you that is making you do this. A ‘little voice’ that always tells you to do something when you don’t want to do it. But that little voice is part of you and is part of your protection system,” says the NCH.

The reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with your subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made that support your goals quickly and efficiently,” adds the national body.

Anxiety leads to UK teens being less happy

While most 15-year-olds seems happy with their lives, according to an international study of students’ well-being, UK teenagers had a below average satisfaction score. Anxiety about exams and bullying remains a problem for many young people.The findings are based on a survey of 540,000 students internationally by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which showed an average satisfaction score of 7.3 on a scale from zero to 10. UK teens had a score of seven, reported the BBC. The study reveals large variations in life satisfaction out of 48 OECD countries and partner nations.

The highest levels of satisfaction were found in the Dominican Republic (8.5), Mexico (8.3) and Costa Rica (8.2), while the UK took 38th place for life satisfaction, behind the United States, France, Germany and Ireland – lower too, than Russia and Bulgaria.

Statistics for UK 15-year-olds showed that 72% said they felt very anxious before a test – even when well prepared; almost one in four (24%) were victims of one act of bullying at least a few times a month and around 15% were made fun of by others and 5% said they were hit or pushed at least a few times a month.

But teenagers perceived a high level of parental support, with 93% saying their parents encouraged them to be confident and 94% saying parents were interested in their school activities.

On average across OECD countries, about 11% of teenagers said they were frequently mocked, 7% were ‘left out of things’ and 8% were the subject of hurtful rumours. But the OECD research found less bullying in schools where students had positive relationships with their teachers.

Across OECD countries, about 55% of students said they were very anxious before a test, even if they were well prepared for it. Girls had a tendency to worry more than boys, with girls in all 72 countries reporting greater levels of schoolwork-related anxiety than boys.

The report found students spent more than two hours online during a typical weekday after school and more than three hours online during a typical weekend day. The majority said the internet was a great resource for obtaining information and more than half said they felt bad if no internet connection was available.

Support for school students – whether bullied, anxious about exams or lacking in self-esteem – is readily available through clinical hypnotherapy.

Says the NCH: “After sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you.

“Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily. People who have experienced side effects of anxiety such as insomnia, find that they are sleeping much better and as a result are able to work more effectively.”

The national body adds that hypnotherapy helps people to make changes in their behaviour but it cannot force anyone to make any changes against their will.

“When you realise that you are the one in control, when you decide how deeply into hypnosis you wish to go, then you become aware of what hypnosis is. A hypnotherapist is a guide and helps you on a journey, but the change can only be made by you.

“Often the realisation that you are in control, and that you can make change yourself is very empowering. You’ll find that the more often you going into hypnosis, aware that you doing it, the more you realise how easy it is to let go, secure in the knowledge that you can always stop a session if you feel uncomfortable.

“It is as if hypnotherapy unlocks the potential you have to break free of negative thought patterns, and to react more positively and more confidently to situations in your life that may have previously made you anxious.”

 

It is healthy to talk about mental health issues

Being stoic and silent about mental health – or maintaining the British ‘stiff upper lip’ – is not the way to go about dealing with these issues, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has said.

The future king’s comments come soon after his brother, Prince Harry, revealed he sought help after nearly 20 years ‘not thinking about the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. And the BBC reported that Prince William had also teamed up with pop star Lady Gaga – in a video call they spoke about the importance of people talking about their struggles.

He said he wanted his children to grow up able to express their feelings. Prince William’s comments on the ‘stiff upper lip’ came in an interview – alongside Prince Harry – with a magazine produced by the charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), which is dedicated to preventing male suicide.

Prince William talked about his ‘tipping point’, which was his exposure to suicide – the biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK – through his work as an air ambulance pilot. He told Calm that while there might be a time and a place for the ‘stiff upper lip’, it should not be at the expense of people’s health.

Prince William spoke to Lady Gaga, as part of the Heads Together #oktosay campaign to encourage people to speak out about their mental health challenges. The pair discussed how speaking freely on mental health problems can help shatter the stigma around them.

Lady Gaga said: “There’s a lot of shame attached to mental illness, you feel like something’s wrong with you. In my life I go ‘look at all these beautiful, wonderful things that I have, I should be so happy’. But you can’t help it if in the morning when you wake up you are so tired, so sad, so full of anxiety and the shakes that you can barely think.”

Talking through problems like anxiety, depression, stress and other issues is what clinical hypnotherapy is all about and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has more than 1,800 qualified therapists across the UK who can help people deal with and overcome such issues.

Bottling things up or maintaining that ‘stiff upper lip’ is not the ideal way to deal with mental health issues and, as Prince Harry said, it was not until his late 20s that he processed the grief – after two years of ‘total chaos’ and coming close to a ‘complete breakdown’ – by seeking counselling.

An NCH hypnotherapist, dealing with a person suffering from stress or anxiety, will, through talking with the person, help assess the anxiety and identify the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Then the therapist will set a goal asking how the person would wish to feel, how they would like to be, and things that they would chose to do in your life if free of anxiety. The therapist will then work with the person to reach that goal using a range of different techniques. Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but working towards the same goal.

Prince Harry admits to feeling nervous as he speaks openly about suffering from anxiety, coming close to a breakdown and being a ‘problem’ for much of his 20s. Prince Harry is this country’s most high profile person yet to talk about his personal mental anguish.

Talking through your problems with a hypnotherapist can unlock the potential you have to break free of negative thought processes.

Hypnotherapy can ease those anxiety moments

From unexpected terror attacks to exams and from job concerns to the rising cost of living, there is enough going on in modern society to make most of us worried, anxious, stressed and even depressed. How we cope with what the word throws at us is crucial to our well-being.

While many can cope, others resort to coffee, alcohol and recreational drugs to get them through. Some, who are stressed out might seek medication from their GP. But just talking about your problems can help, too.

The mental health charity, Mind, says there is no medical definition of stress and health care professionals often disagree over whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them. But it adds: “We all experience stress differently in different situations.

“Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you’re feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.”

Talking with a trained professional can help someone suffering from stress or anxiety, says Mind, allowing the person to learn how to deal with it ‘and become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings’.

Clinical hypnotherapy, an evidenced-based therapy with over 70,000 worldwide research references, can help people make changes to their behaviour and how they react to situations.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy, with around 2,000 qualified therapists across the UK, is the nation’s leading professional association for clinical hypnotherapy and its members are experienced in helping people deal with anxiety and stress.

Anxiety and stress can make people feel as if they are ‘out of control’ but, says the NCH, changes can be made with therapy – if the person seeks to change, take control and lead a better, stress-free life.

“A hypnotherapist is a guide and helps you on a journey, but the change can only be made by you,” says the NCH. “Often the realisation that you are in control, and that you can make change yourself is very empowering. You’ll find that the more often you going into hypnosis, aware that you doing it, the more you realise how easy it is to let go, secure in the knowledge that you can always stop a session if you feel uncomfortable.”

The NCH adds that there could be a considerable variation in the anxiety and stress levels of people being treated and there is, as a result, ‘no general rule which makes it possible to say how much improvement can be achieved and in how much time’.

Some anxieties can be overcome in one session, adds the NCH pointing out that the therapist, as a member of the Council, is committed to providing swift and effective help.

“An NCH therapist will be able to give you a fair assessment of how much improvement you can expect and how many sessions may be needed by the end of the first session. But, if the problem is more complex, then you will jointly review progress from time to time,” the national body says.

 

Self-image issues increase among teenagers

Almost a third of 2,000 UK teenagers, polled for a body confidence campaign by Be Real, avoid activities like PE because of fears about their looks and the campaign says schools have a key role in combating body anxiety.

According to the report, fears about they way they look are ‘having a profoundly negative effect on a significant number of young people in the UK’ and while some young people are able to reject the pressure to look perfect, ‘those who cannot often suffer in silence, too afraid to share their insecurities with others’.

It warns that a ‘a sense of hopelessness often dominates these individuals’ and research shows that more than half (52%) of 11 to 16-year-olds regularly worry about their looks – 60% of girls and 43% of boys, the BBC reported.

The stress and anxiety caused by bullying and lack of self-esteem is widespread and, in extreme cases, has even led to suicide. And bullying is no longer limited to face-to-face situations as cyber or online bullying has become more prevalent in recent times.

As recently as December last year an American teenager shot herself in front of her family after suffering relentless cyber bullying.

The Be Real research showed that 79% of teens said their looks were important to them while 63% said others’ opinions of their looks were important and 36% said they would do whatever it took to look good. A total of 57% would consider dieting to change their looks while 10% would consider plastic surgery.

While there are several organisations that deal with bullying issues, 11% of boys felt unable to discuss the issue with friends, compared with 5% of girls.

But talking about such issues is often the best from of treatment and clinical hypnotherapy has success in dealing with such issues and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has more than 1,800 qualified hypnotherapists across the UK who can help.

Talking to a hypnotherapist will help ease the burden and the therapist will discuss a plan of action that can be followed through a variety of techniques to achieve a goal the teenager hopes to meet for their life. Usually this is being free from anxiety and living a fulfilled and happy life, free to do things that they want.

Says the NCH: “More and more people are showing signs of over-anxiety, which leads to stress, which can make a significant impact on the quality of life and well-being.”

Hypnosis can be extremely effective, adds the NCH. “Your therapist, as a member of the NCH, is committed to helping you as swiftly and effectively as possible. They may well be able to give you a fair assessment of how much improvement you can expect and how many sessions may be needed by the end of the first session.”

Clinical hypnotherapy is effective in that it works with the sub conscious mind to change behaviours and can help build self-confidence and eliminate unnecessary anxiety and stress. Another plus is that it is non-invasive and does not entail taking any medication.

Anxiety becoming a major issue in the UK

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At present, says the World Health Organization (WHO), around 40% of disability across the world is caused by depression and anxiety while AnxietyUK says it estimates 13% of the adult population in the UK will develop a specific form of anxiety – known as a phobia – at some point in their life while one in six have experienced some form of ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week.

Statistics also show that levels of anxiety-related common mental health disorders have risen by 12.8% in the 14 years from 1993 to 2007 and 800,000 more UK adults would have qualified for the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder in 2007 than 1993. The UK’s Mental Health Foundation says mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause 20% of days lost from work in the UK with one in six adults having a common mental disorder.

Compared with physical ailments like angina, asthma and diabetes, the WHO found in a recent study that the impact of depression and anxiety on a person’s ability to function was 50% more severe. It adds that only 15% of UK people with anxiety or depression are receiving treatment.

Treating anxiety issues can be done with drugs or with talking therapies and while some say the type of treatment depends on the severity of the anxiety, stress or depression, clinical hypnotherapy has a proven success record for its efficacy in this regard.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 therapists across the UK on its register who are highly-qualified and trained to provide the correct treatment for many issues, including anxiety and stress-related problems in a non-invasive manner.

Using anti-depressant medication can cause side effects while the body may take time to adjust to the medication and stopping the use of drugs should be done gradually and with GP supervision.

The NCH says while some people manage to cope with stressful issues in their lives, ‘more and more people are showing signs of over-anxiety, which leads to stress, which can make a significant impact on the quality of life and wellbeing’.

A hypnotherapist can help assess a person’s anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship. Once this is done, a goal will be set to let the person realise a life free of anxiety.

Using a variety of techniques and working with the person’s sub conscious mind, the therapist will work with the person in a number of therapy sessions to reach this goal. After these sessions, people will feel more confident and more relaxed in situations that might have been stressful before.

With loss of work days largely attributed to stress-related issues, many hypnotherapists offer special offers to businesses for stress reduction schemes at work. It is worth talking to your employer or to a local hypnotherapist to see if that this is a possibility.

Conquer phobias with hypnotherapy

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Recent research shows that phobias could be alleviated if images of the perceived threat were flashed before the phobic person, allowing the brain to regulate emotional and behavioural responses to fear.

The study, published in Human Brain Mapping and led by Paul Siegel, associate professor of psychology at Purchase College of the State University of New York, suggests that this technique could be used to treat children.

In the study women who had a phobia about spiders were shown images of spiders so briefly that they remained unaware of them. They were then shown spider images for a longer time, so that they were clearly visible. At the same time, their brain activity was monitored and compared with that of women with no phobias.

In the group with phobias, seeing the spider images very briefly resulted in strong activity in areas of the brain that regulate emotional and behavioural responses to fear.

This was unexpected and resulted in the level of fear actually experienced being reduced, the researchers said.

In contrast, when women with phobias were exposed to clear images of spiders for a longer time, the brain was unable to control its response to fear, causing them to experience the full force of their phobia.

Scans suggested the brain worked harder to regulate emotional and behavioural responses to fear when it was not conscious of it, researchers found.

The BBC reported that the researchers said the technique could be used to treat children as current treatments are often based on persuading patients to directly face their fear, which could cause serious emotional distress.

A phobia is an irrational fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal and phobias are more pronounced than fears, and can become overwhelming and affect day-to-day life. They are particularly common in women.

The most common phobias in the UK include arachnaphobiea – fear of spiders; social phobia – fear of interacting with other people; agoraphobia – fear of open public spaces; emetophobia – fear of vomiting; erythrophobia – fear of blushing; driving phobia – fear of driving; hypochondria – fear of illness; and aerophobia – fear of flying.

Professor Siegel told the BBC: “Counter-intuitively, our study showed that the brain is better able to process feared stimuli when they are presented without conscious awareness. Our findings suggest that phobic people may be better prepared to face their fears if at first they are not consciously aware that they’ve faced them.”

And Dr Bradley Peterson, director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said the technique could be a useful approach for treating children who could suffer significant distress if confronted head on by what was causing their phobia.

NHS Choices says some simple phobias can be treated through gradual exposure to the object, animal, place or situation that causes fear and anxiety, but treating complex phobias, such as agoraphobia, can take longer and require counselling, talking therapies or psychotherapy.

Nicky Lidbetter, from charity Anxiety UK, said the current treatment approach for this type of specific phobia was cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

“This approach aims to replace the fear response of a phobia with a relaxation response, through gradual exposure to the phobia inducing stimulus.”

Clinical hypnotherapy, using CBT and other techniques, says the National Council for Hypnotherapy, has a high success rate in helping people deal with and conquer their phobias.

The NCH says: “Generally, the solution is to see that phobia in a different context starting from an objective perspective and then gradually building up exposure from a minimal to comfortable level.

“By using hypnosis, this can be done rapidly as the unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is a known as desensitisation.”

Often phobias can be treated in just one session, adds the NCH, saying that there is, however, no guarantee as change depends on the individual’s willingness to embrace it. Most therapists will therefore give a realistic expectation of how long treatment may last.

Hypnotherapy can counter anxiety and stress to reduce UK suicide rate

suiicide1The number of people taking their own lives in England is unacceptably high, says a report by the Health Select Committee. The group of MPs is putting pressure on the government ahead of its new plan for preventing suicides, which is expected in the New Year, reports the BBC.

The number of deaths by suicide was 4,820 in England in 2015 – part of a UK-wide figure of 6,188 and the committee said support needed to be more accessible to those at risk.

The MPs’ report also said GPs needed more training in spotting people at risk of suicide and that there should be more support after patients are discharged from psychiatric services. Dr Sarah Wollaston, the committee’s chair, said that 4,820 people are recorded as having died by suicide in England last year, but the true figure is likely to be higher.

Suicide is preventable and much more can and should be done to support those at risk.”

The group of MPs also attacked ‘irresponsible’ reporting of suicide by the media that leads to copycat behaviour by those at risk of taking their own lives. The government’s revised suicide prevention strategy is due to be published in January.

According to the NHS, it is impossible to say someone will never get a mental health condition but there are steps that can be taken to improve mental health.

If you’re stronger emotionally, you may find it easier to cope with stressful or upsetting incidents, reducing your risk of developing a mental health condition, like depression, and the risk of suicidal thoughts,” says the NHS.

The service adds that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends trying treatments based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a type of psychological treatment that can help someone understand their condition better and how problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect each other.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy says CBT is used by many of its 1,800 registered therapist across the UK by that clinical hypnotherapy goes further by dealing with the subconscious not just the conscious mind.

“We live in a society where great demands and responsibilities are placed on us,” says the NCH, adding that at least one in seven people in the UK suffer from stress or anxiety at any one time in the UK.

“And while some people manage, more and more people are showing signs of over-anxiety, which leads to stress, which can make a significant impact on the quality of life and well being.”

The national body says a hypnotherapist can help assess a person’s anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

The therapist will then help set a goal asking how the person would like to feel and what they would choose to do in life if free from anxiety. The therapist will then work with that person to reach their goals using a range of different techniques.

“Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but working towards the same goal. After sessions with a hypnotherapist, you may feel more confident, more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you. Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily,” says the NCH.

Hypnotherapists work in a private, one-on-one situation, allowing the person to relax and talk in full confidence.

Ruth Sutherland, the chief executive of the Samaritans, told the BBC that suicide prevention is still not being prioritised and ‘every six seconds someone contacts Samaritans for help’.

Marjorie Wallace from the mental health charity SANE told the BBC that ‘believe at least one in three suicides could and should be prevented and it is unforgiveable that we allow people to be sent to a lonely and preventable death’.

She added: “There are fewer and fewer safe places for patients to go, and the one-on-one relationships they crave have been taken away by the fragmentation and cuts to services.”

Quitting, not substitutes, is the best way to beat tobacco

cigarettesTobacco has been in the news again with a major cigarette manufacturer saying they are launching a new, less harmful cigarette in the UK and three tobacco companies losing their appeal against the government’s plain packaging rules for cigarettes packs.

The court action, brought by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, comes after a challenge against the new rules was dismissed at the High Court in May.

The UK is the first country in Europe to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, standardised packets and the government has said it means a generation will ‘grow up smoke-free’.

In the other matter, Philip Morris says the new Iqos product, which heats tobacco rather than burning it, could mean halting sales of its conventional tobacco products.

The tobacco giant claims this means smokers get the same nicotine hit, but 90% less of the nasty toxins that come with cigarette smoke.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), told the BBC: “We still need to be very cautious about what the industry’s up to. Philip Morris is a tobacco company. They are still making most of their profits from selling cigarettes.

“On current trends, smoking will kill one billion people in the 21st century, most in poor countries. If Philip Morris really wants to see the end of smoking they have to stop promoting smoking to new young smokers around the world.”

And, referring to the court action, she added: “This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry. This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardised packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

But, despite these and other actions, smoking is still popular and statistics from an Opinion and Lifestyles Survey show that 19% of adults in Great Britain currently smoke. The survey also showed that younger adults were more likely to smoke. Nearly a quarter of 16-34 year olds were smokers compared to 11% of those aged 60 and over.

The hardest thing about smoking, it is said, is the giving up. Methods used include e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, sprays, inhalers or going ‘cold turkey’ – but these all have limited success.

Many say it is a case of mind over matter. The National Council for Hypnotherapy says clinical hypnotherapy has a proven track record in helping people, who want to quit smoking, beat the habit.

Says the NCH: “It is important to understand that hypnotherapy is not a magic pill. It requires that the client be committed to change and prepared to make the effort to make that change a reality.”

With this in mind, hypnotherapy helps people to make changes in their behaviour. It cannot force anyone to make any changes against their will but hypnotherapy commonly helps with conditions including bad habits, addictions and problem behaviours.

People who see a hypnotherapist to stop smoking often find that they started the habit within a peer group situation.

“Often this stems from our desire to blend in, to become part of a group, and of course in evolutionary terms we need to be accepted by a group as our protection comes from being within groups – that is how we evolved and survived,” says the NCH.

But the good news is that we are in control and can change how we react to certain situations. We can protect ourselves in ways that are healthy and which allow us succeed and grow stronger in body and mind. We just need to know how to change and believe we can.

The reason why hypnotherapy works so rapidly with bad habits and behaviours is because it works directly with the subconscious, bypassing the critical mind and getting to the root of the issue so that changes can be made quickly and efficiently.

Fighting phobias with hypnotherapy

christmas-shoppingIt’s that time of the year when we brace ourselves for the Christmas shopping rush; the crowds; the last-minute bargains and the panic that we may have forgotten some important gift.

And, after the eventual day of festivities, it starts again with the Boxing Day sales …

Some of us can deal with this, albeit with a certain amount of fear and trepidation. Others suffer from Agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces or crowded public places) and do not cope as well.

Agoraphobia is one of the top 10 phobias suffered by millions in the UK and this time of the year gives rise to lesser known phobias like Cyssanophobia (fear of kissing under the mistletoe) and Selaphobia (fear of flashing Christmas lights).

A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

Just recently, Japanese scientists raised hopes for a radical new therapy for phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a procedure that can dampen down fears linked to painful memories.

While this advance holds particular promise for patients, reports The Guardian, it is an invasive treatment and not yet tested.

But there are tried and tested ways to treat and cure phobias – one being hypnotherapy and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has more than 1,800 trained and qualified therapists across the UK who can do this.

The Guardian reported that the new therapy researchers used a computer algorithm to analyse a patient’s brain activity in real time and pinpoint moments when their fears can be overwritten by giving them a reward.

Volunteers watched another sequence of images flash up but, this time, two colours of circles, for example, red and green, were followed by unpleasant, but tolerable electric shocks. Brain activity and sensors on the skin showed the participants came to fear those images being shown.

The team then found they could reduce anxieties triggered by specific memories without asking people to think about them consciously. The scientists are now investigating how long the fear is dampened down for.

In dealing with phobias, the National Council for Hypnotherapy says: “Generally, the solution is to see that phobia in a different context starting from an objective perspective and then gradually building up exposure from a minimal to comfortable level.

“Using hypnosis this can be done rapidly as the unconscious is able to process information more effectively without the interference of the critical mind. This is a known as desensitisation.”

Often phobias can be treated in just one session of clinical hypnotherapy. There is, however, no guarantee as change depends on the individual’s willingness to embrace it. Most therapists will therefore give the client a realistic expectation of how long treatment may last.

Says the NCH: “Each hypnotherapist may use a slightly different approach to treating phobias depending on whether you know when the phobia first started, how you view it and how receptive you are to change.

“Your hypnotherapist will probably evaluate the level of your phobia and then use a combination of techniques to help you resolve it, gradually building up your confidence and your ability to stay calm when you are confronted with your phobia.”

Phobias are far more common than many people realise and it is estimated that more than 11% of the UK population have some kind of irrational fear.

Generally people manage their phobia on a day-to-day basis but seeking help from a hypnotherapist will stop that phobia from preventing them doing something they want to do, or when they know a situation will force them to face it.