Is workplace stress affecting your health?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 526,000 workers in the UK suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5m working days were lost as a result over that period.  A survey of 3,000 workers conducted by an employee benefits platform found that work was the biggest cause of stress, followed by family pressures (45%) and money worries (45%).

The number of fit notes issued for mental health conditions, including workplace induced stress and anxiety, have been on the rise for a number of years. They accounted for a third of all fit notes written by GPs in England between December 2014 and March 2017.  Chronic workplace stress can lead to a wide range of negative health outcomes, from physical health issues to signs of anxiety, depression and low mood.

Overwork was given as the biggest reason for workplace strain, and a significant percentage of respondents turned to stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol to help them manage.

Supporting the call for better mental health care, the National Council for Hypnotherapy says that about one in seven people are suffering from stress or anxiety at any one time in the UK currently. And while some people manage, more and more people are struggling with significant impacts on the quality of life and well-being.

There are many practical steps you can take to help you cope better with workplace stress including seeking out and building supportive relationships both inside and out of work, making sure you are eating and sleeping well and exercising regularly. If these steps are not enough to alleviate your stress, the NCH is well-placed to assist with over 1,800 registered hypnotherapists who can teach you tools and help you work through your problem.

A hypnotherapist can help assess your anxiety, identifying the root of stress or anxiety and helping you to set goals for how you would like to feel and the things you would choose to do in your life if you were free of the stress and 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.

Stress is one of the major reasons people take time off work and, by investing in stress reduction schemes, companies can increase productivity, happiness and subsequently loyalty in their employees, comments the NCH.

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.

 

Anxiety and depression: Are you getting effective help?

Hypnotherapy can help with anxiety and depression

Effective treatment for anxiety and depression can give you your life back

A new international study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety suggests that 90% of people who suffer from anxiety or depression don’t receive proper treatment.  Commissioned by the World Mental Health, the research described the treatment gap in anxiety disorders at an international level for the first time. Researchers examined the effectiveness of anxiety disorder treatment around the world from a sample of 51,500 individuals from 21 different countries.

According to this research, in the UK around 20% of the population is experiencing anxiety or depression at any one time and of those people only 1-in-10 is receiving an appropriate treatment.

This study has been published at the same time that Government ministers have ordered a landmark review of prescription drug addiction, amid concern over the rising number of prescriptions being dispensed for anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications.  According to the NHS, prescriptions for anti-depressants have almost tripled since 2000, with 64 million NHS prescriptions now doled out annually – compared with 22 million in 2000. UK levels of antidepressant use are now fourth highest among Western countries.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has around 1,800 qualified therapists across the UK who can provide effective treatment.  Clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with mental health conditions and helping to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Working collaboratively, the therapist and client will set goals and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns, helping create a happy and positive frame of mind. Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but will work towards the same goal – being free of anxiety and depression.

“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,” states the NCH.

Click here to access the NCH directory, with over 1,800 therapists all around the UK there’s sure to be someone to help close to you.

Not feeling the Christmas spirit?

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It’s known as ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ but for many it’s filled with anxiety and depression. The festive period can intensify feelings of loneliness, increase financial worries and put pressure on people to have the “perfect” Christmas. … Continue reading

Hypnotherapy provides effective pain relief

Around 30% of the UK live with daily, chronic pain, that’s around 28 million people according to research carried out in 2016.

For most of these sufferers, opiates are offered as the main treatment for their pain.) In America opiod prescriptions have quadrupled since the turn of the century, but the research shows that the relief offered by opiate medications actually isn’t so great.

The National Council for Hypnotherapy says: “Hypnotherapy is often highly effective in dealing with pain management.

In a study at Stanford University School of Medicine in 2016 scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during guided hypnosis sessions.  They found several changes that occur while the subjects were in hypnosis.  These changes included a greater connectivity between the brain’s executive-control network and the insula, a grape-sized region deeper in the brain that helps us control what’s going on in the body, including processing pain.

Further to this, it is becoming more widely recognised that the mind plays a role in the experience of pain.  Learning skills to change habitual thought patterns around chronic pain can significantly reduce a person’s distress and improve their quality of life.  Negative emotions can amplify the experience of pain, and a positive outlook can ease it.

Self hypnosis can help.  Hypnosis techniques can be taught to clients by an NCH therapist to help them manage chronic pain.  Patients suffering from a range of conditions including fibromyalgia, back disorders and pain from trauma such as car accidents or workplace injuries can learn to control their pain through practicing self-hypnosis.

 “Sleep was totally key,” says Deborah Gray, 53, whose chronic neck pain has disappeared since she began using guided imagery and hypnotherapy to fall asleep. 

When seeing a therapist for chronic pain, it is essential that the pain is checked out by a GP first for a formal diagnosis.  After you’ve had an assessment contact a hypnotherapist near you by using the NCH directory.

 

The newest healthy living trend: Sleep

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Insomnia is thought to affect one in 3 people in the UK, with sufferers finding it difficult to get to sleep, having interrupted sleep, waking early, and having difficulty concentrating and feeling tired and irritable during the day. With the … Continue reading

Pressure builds for Britain’s youth

 
A recent survey of 2,000 UK school teachers has revealed some frightening news about the mental health of our children and adolescents.  Responding to a survey by the NASUWT union, almost all teachers (98%) said they had come into contact with pupils who are experiencing mental health issues.  In February a survey commissioned by the Varkey Foundation ranked British teenagers and young adults in 19th place out of 20 participating countries when comparing their mental health and levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

In 2012 the Children’s Society Good Childhood Report found that around 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

A single session of self hypnosis instruction has been found to resolve anxiety based abdominal pain symptoms in 3 out of 4 paediatric patients and clinical research has shown that children and adolescents respond extremely well to hypnotherapy for other anxiety related complaints and insomnia.

Dr Marc Bush, chief policy advisor at charity YoungMinds said: “We know from our research that children and young people face a huge range of pressures, including stress at school, body image issues, bullying on and offline, around-the-clock social media and uncertain job prospects.”

Childline, a telephone and internet chat counselling service for children reported that they delivered over 300,000 counselling sessions in the 2015/2016 financial year with the top concerns raised by children being low self-esteem/unhappiness, family relationships, and bullying/online bullying. 1 in 3 Childline counselling sessions related to mental health and wellbeing issues.

Teachers report that “Students generally don’t know how to deal with any stresses in their lives so it tends to present itself through anger and lashing out or crying.”

There are many things that you can do that will help and prevention is always better than cure.  Some of the most important things you can do are to listen and to provide emotional support.  Children learn through modelling, so providing a good example to them of effective communication and problem-solving skills is a very important weapon in helping fight the onset of stress and anxiety childhood mental health issues.

The Mental Health Foundation believes that simple things such as ensuring your child is in good physical health; is eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, and is part of a family that’s happy and communicates with each other are effective ways of helping ensure your child remains mentally healthy.  Connections to the community and a sense of belonging, both through schools and outside activities are also important for childhood mental wellbeing.

Limiting media access can also be helpful if your child is showing signs of anxiety.  The NSPCC reported earlier this year that young callers to their Childline service reported being distressed by world events such as Brexit, the US election, and increasingly regular terrorism reports.  Limiting social media access can also help to improve the stress and anxiety levels of your children, allowing them time to switch off and be present in the moment.

However, some children are in need of more formal interventions to support them through their time of crisis.  The National Council for Hypnotherapy, which has over 200 trained and qualified therapists who specialise in working with children on its directory across the UK, says that hypnotherapy can be a fast, effective and drug free treatment for a range of children and adolescent’s mental health issues.

 If caught and treated early, childhood mental health problems can resolve quickly and completely.  Most hypnotherapists are happy to have a no-obligation meeting with you and your child to discuss these problems and make suggestions for intervention.

Visit our database of hypnotherapists to find someone local to you.

 

 

 

Beating the baby blues

Having a child is one of the most life changing things you will ever do, and with major life changes invariably comes stress. 

Chronic, unmanaged stress levels can significantly impact upon quality of life and research has found that both mothers and fathers face an increased risk of depression after the birth of a child, and remain at some increased risk well into a child’s adolescence.  A fifth of fathers and more than a third of mothers experience depression before their child turns 12 years old, with the highest rates in the first year after birth, according to a study from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The research, which tracked nearly 87,000 families in the United Kingdom between 1993 and 2007, found the highest risk for depression occurred in the first year after a child’s birth.

The National Council for Hypnotherapists(NCH) believes that hypnobirthing can reduce stress and anxiety for you, your partner and your baby, creating a healthy environment for your family.

Overall, 39 percent of mothers and 21 percent of fathers had experienced an episode of depression during the first 12 years of their child’s life. After the first year of parenting, a mother’s risk for depression dropped by half, while second time dads faced only about a quarter of the depression risk compared with new fathers. Although depression risk for both parents dropped considerably in the second year, they remain steady until the child is aged 12 (the survey did not track families beyond the child’s age of 12).

Parents who had an earlier history of depression, who had children at a relatively young age or who had lower incomes were at highest risk for a depressive episode during their parenting years, according to the study.  Although the study wasn’t designed to determine the causes of the higher depression rates among parents, researchers speculated that several potential triggers could occur because of the everyday demands of parenting.  It seems reasonable to suggest that the stress of new fatherhood may put men at risk of depression.

Postnatal depression is a serious issue and can have far reaching consequences.  Babies have been shown to pick up on parental stress, says a Norland trained nanny, “they will cry more if you are overwhelmed. Trying to do too much on your own and not resting enough has become a common trait”.  Children also pick up on stress, depression and anxiety in their parents, with research showing that children with anxiety related stomach conditions are more likely to have anxious or depressed mothers.

Hypnobirthing teaches the mother to deeply relax with specific hypnotic pain control techniques leading to reports of significantly faster births with fewer medical interventions and faster recoveries; this type of birth experience is believed by many to reduce the risk of post-natal depression.  Partners who are involved with the hypnobirthing training also report a significant reduction in stress and anxiety surrounding becoming a parent.

Hypnotherapy can also assist if you are currently struggling with postnatal depression.  During a course of therapy the hypnotherapist will work with their client to help assess and build strategies for dealing with their postnatal depression, including identifying the root causes and establishing post-treatment goals. 

 With the right support, which can include self-help strategies and therapy, most parents make a full recovery.   Search our database of hypnotherapists to find someone local to you.

 

 

Hypnosis, Meditation, Problem-Solving, Depression (June Research Snippet)

June’s Enhanced Research Snippet

Hypnosis, Meditation, Problem-Solving, & Depression

Donald Robertson, NCH Research Director

For a bit of a change, this snippet is about a proposed protocol for treatment of clinical depression, based on existing evidence-based interventions.  I reckoned the subject needed a bit of background explanation so apologies if it’s a bit longer than usual!  It’s difficult to avoid jargon when talking about state-of-the-art stuff but I’ve tried to explain briefly what some of it means.  Email me with any questions, though.

research@hypnotherapists.org.uk

There’s been growing interest recently in the relationship between cutting-edge, “third wave”, approaches to cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and hypnotism.  Some of these new approaches place particular emphasis on cultivating particular states or attitudes of mind, such as acceptance or mindfulness, rather than the disputation emphasised in early cognitive therapy.  There’s also increasing emphasis on the role of attention in psychopathology and psychotherapy.  These are both, obviously, factors which can be related to hypnotherapy, which specialises in inducing particular states of mind and shifting the allocation of attention.

A June 2010 special edition of the International Journal for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (IJCEH) was dedicated to the subject of clinical depression, edited by Michael Yapko, who is well-known as a specialist in this particular area.  This follows on the success of Assen Alladin’s recent randomised controlled trial (RCT), which provided evidence that cognitive hypnotherapy could compete with standard cognitive therapy in the treatment of depression, and may be superior on some measures.  (The treatment of clinical depression by ordinary hypnotherapists is considered inappropriate by many experts but this research can probably be applied, to some extent, to the treatment of subclinical symptoms of depression of the sort more commonly encountered in hypnotherapy.)  The article by Lynn et al. (see below) was of particular interest because it outlined proposals for a third-wave cognitive-behavioural approach to hypnotherapy for depression, with scripted examples. 

Lynn et al. focus in particular on the central role now ascribed to morbid “rumination” in the maintenance of depressive symptoms.  They provide proposals for combining thee specialised treatments with modern hypnotherapy.

  1. Rumination-Focused Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (RFCBT)
  2. Cognitive Control Training (CCT)
  3. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Full details of the hybrid protocol can be found in the article referenced below.  However, to illustrate their approach, I’d like to elaborate briefly on one small aspect of this multi-component treatment approach.

Lynn et al. refer briefly to the use of problem-solving methods which are near-universal in CBT.  However, they could have also mentioned the fact that Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), an approach originating in the 1970s, has received growing support recently from treatment outcome studies as a stand-alone intervention for clinical depression.  (This is an area of special interest to me at present.)  Now, as far back as the 1940s, Lewis Wolberg had discussed the use of problem-solving methods within hypnotherapy, from a cognitive-behavioural perspective.  Wolberg, an eclectic psychotherapist, combined elements of behavioural psychology with rational persuasion psychotherapy, an early precursor of cognitive therapy, in his Medical Hypnotism, one of the best-known clinical hypnosis textbooks of the period. 

Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), in its modern form, has the merit of being a very brief and simple approach, with a well-rounded evidence-base.  It’s simple enough to combine well with hypnotherapy to form a brief hybrid treatment.  Lynn et al. go for a more complex mixture, as mentioned above, but their modified problem-solving plus hypnosis, might be viable as another stand-alone intervention.  I’d strongly recommend that you check out the third edition of the core text, Problem-Solving Therapy: A Positive Approach to Clinical Intervention, by D’Zurilla and Nezu, for a thorough description of PST methodology.  Problem-Solving methodology is derived from experimental studies on problem-solving, decision-making, and related skills, and focuses on helping clients to become more skilled and confident at identifying and solving their own problems of living, of whatever kind.  It’s based on the observation that clients, especially depressed clients, tend to complain of feeling overwhelmed by various problems of living and helpeless to start tackling them.  Essentially, the method is divided into five basic components,

  1. Problem Orientation.  The client is trained to adopt and maintain a positive attitude toward solving their problems, and the key components of this mind-set are explored with them.
  2. Problem Definition.  The client is trained to identify relevant problems and define them objectively with reference to appropriate goals and key obstacles.
  3. Brainstorming Alternatives.  Osborn’s principles of brainstorming are employed to systematically develop a wide variety of alternative solutions.
  4. Decision Making.  Cost-benefit analysis and other methods are used to evaluate proposed solutions and rank them in order of suitability.
  5. Solution Implementation.  An action plan is developed and tested out in practice, followed by systematic reflection on the observed consequences, and possibly re-iteration of the process above.

That’s it in a nutshell, but read the manual above for a proper description.  PST seems to benefit a wide range of clients but it’s been especially linked to the treatment of clinical depression where there is clear evidence of a correlation between depression and problem-solving deficits, in the first place, and evidence from treatment outcome studies that PST can be broadly equivalent to standard cognitive therapy or antidepressants, although delivered in a very brief format, over about six 30-minute sessions. 

Anyway, Lynn et al., propose the following ways in which problem-solving can be facilitated by hypnosis, and I would suggest that these can be integrated with standard problem-solving methodology to form brief hypno-PST for depression, or related issues,

  1. Age regression is used to regress subjects to times in the past when problem-solving was done better and prevented morbid rumination happening.
  2. Suggestions can be given for increased perception of the key features of problems to be solved.
  3. Imaginal rehearsal in hypnosis can be used to test out different proposed solutions and evaluate their consequences.
  4. Imaginal rehearsal can also be used to develop skill and confidence in implementing the chosen solution.
  5. Self-talk (autosuggestions such as “I can do this!”) can be rehearsed during hypnosis, to enhance coping skills in relation to solution implementation.
  6. Hypnotic age progression can be used to have clients envision a future time when they have already solved their problems and to retrospectively identify steps they might have taken to do so.

They also mention that brooding can be overcome by use of direct suggestions (which could be recorded on a CD) to develop a positive problem-orientation or problem-solving mind-set.  I would observe that there’s some reason to believe that problem-orientation is the most important part of the whole methodology and that hypnotic suggestion could serve well as a simple way of helping clients to feel more positive and confident about tackling their problems of living, and to see them more objectively, from a realistic perspective, rather than being threatened or overwhelmed by problems.

Lynn et al., as I have done, are merely commenting on existing evidence-based methods and speculating about protocols which could combine them within a hypnotherapy framework but we can probably look forward to other treatment outcome studies, like Assen Alladin’s, which attempt to provide direct evidence for the efficacy of such multi-component hypnotic approaches. 

Reference

Lynn, S., Barnes, S., Deming, A. & Accardi, M. (2010). Hypnosis, Rumination, and Depression: Catalyzing Attention and Mindfulness-Based Treatments. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 58(2), 202-221.