Anxiety and depression can be treated with hypnotherapy

Doctors trialling the use of ketamine to treat depression are calling for the treatment to be rolled out. Dr Rupert McShane, who has led a trial in Oxford, since 2011 says ketamine can work on patients with depression ‘where nothing has helped before’.

Writing in The Lancet Psychiatry, Dr McShane says tens of thousands of people who have not responded to other treatment could be helped by the drug. However, he is calling for a national registry to monitor its use.

Ketamine is licensed to be used as an anaesthetic but has a reputation as an illegal party drug. Dr McShane hopes more doctors will use it to treat depression but fears that the UK could follow the US where there are private ketamine clinics that vary in their clinical checks.

Commenting on the paper, Professor Allan Young, from the The Royal College of Psychiatrists, said there were still ‘significant gaps’ in knowledge about ketamine’s use.

“Before ketamine can be recommended for use in clinical practice, extensive research is required to understand how to optimally use ketamine for treating depression,” he said.

“The Royal College of Psychiatrists has concerns for patient safety and hence recommends mental health practitioners to proceed with caution when treating patients with ketamine.”

While medication for depression is often prescribed and used – even for stress and anxiety – there are other, non-invasive treatments available, including clinical hypnotherapy.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy, which has almost 2,000 trained and qualified therapists on its directory across the UK, says around one in seven people are suffering 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 and even depression which can make a significant impact on the quality of life and wellbeing.

“Anxiety is a fear or concern that is exaggerated, and is out of proportion to the situation, although sometimes it may not feel like this,” says the NCH.

“The symptoms of anxiety correlate with the stress response or ‘fight-or-flight’. This is primal response that protects you against threats in your environment, so if danger is present your body triggers a rush of blood to your arms and legs so that you can fight or run away.

“It is an adrenaline response that causes your heart to beat faster, pumping oxygen around your body to those parts that need it to protect you. You may feel as if you are on high alert as well, unable to calm down or relax, your mind may race unable to focus or quieten down.”

In one study in the US, 85% of subjects with major depression were also diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and 35% had symptoms of panic disorder. Other anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The NCH says that anxiety can also manifest itself in different worries. “It may be fear of being around other people, it may be anxiety in specific social situations, anxiety in your relationships with particular people at home, at school or at work.”

The NCH adds: “A hypnotherapist can help assess your anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

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