n Depression is becoming more and more widespread around the world, with prescriptions for anti-depression medications on the rise. In fact, 350 million people worldwide have some form of depression, and in 2015, about 16.1 million US adults had at least one major depressive episode in the previous year, this equates to 6.7% of all U.S. adults. Medication for depression has improved greatly over the decades and, while helpful for many people, it is not always a “cure-all” and may not help with all the symptoms of depression. Besides that, anti-depressant medicine can have some unpleasant side effects (such as weight gain, constipation and, in extreme cases, may even be the cause of suicidal ideation) and can in some instances lead to tolerance and dependence. Coming off the medications can be very tricky and finding an effective medication in the first place may involve lots of trial and error and can be disruptive to the emotional and psychological state of the individual seeking help. Not an easy road to take, but an option for more and more it seems. Hypnosis For Depression As clinical psychologist and hypnosis expert Dr. Yapko explains, hypnosis by itself is not, in fact, a therapy, but when it is combined with a treatment method such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it can help to enhance the outcome of said therapy. Hypnosis in combination with CBT and medication has been found to be efficacious in combatting symptoms of depression and increasing quality of life for clients who choose to use this approach. Many neuroscientific studies are now being undertaken on the topic of hypnosis, but many more are needed to really understand how hypnosis affects the brain and how it can have such astounding results. It seems that hypnosis can increase the capacity of the brain and the subconscious mind to respond to the therapist’s suggestions. This, in turn, can bring about positive change or enhance success in an individual. With depression, the negative thoughts about the self, and the world that underlay the experience of the symptoms are targeted and can be transformed with the aid of hypnotherapy, so that more positive thoughts replace the old, detrimental, and non-factual beliefs. One of the common fears around undergoing hypnosis is that the client will lose their autonomy and be left vulnerable. On the contrary, throughout hypnosis, the client is conscious and is in control of themselves and the session. Dr. Yapko does emphasize that anyone considering visiting a hypnotherapist should ensure that the practitioner is also qualified to conduct therapy. Hypnosis is nothing to be afraid of, it is a simple tool for inducing a deeply relaxed state where focused attention is increased, allowing the client to absorb powerful suggestions from the therapist more easily and more deeply, in order to enhance their well-being and help them function at a more optimum level. Some of the common symptoms of depression that hypnosis, alongside medication and therapy, can help with include: • Low mood. • Ongoing feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, and sadness. • Loss of interest in activities or interests that used to bring pleasure. • Change in appetite, for example, overeating or loss of appetite. • Sleep disruptions, such as too much or too little sleep. • Suicidal ideation. • Bouts of crying. • Fatigue. • Muscular aches and pains. • Sudden weight gain or loss. The symptoms have to have been present for more than two weeks for depression to be diagnosed. Each client is different and the hypnotherapist will tailor sessions to meet his or her individual needs. Some of the areas that may be addressed through hypnotherapy include changing core beliefs, replacing negative automatic thoughts with more helpful thoughts, increasing a sense of self-efficacy, a more positive outlook, and a capacity to respond realistically and effectively to inevitable life events. All of these areas can be addressed using CBT alone, but adding in hypnosis increases successful outcomes. As to how many sessions you might need, it depends on a number of factors such as your belief in hypnosis, your capacity to receive and be affected by it, the severity of your symptoms and your ability to become relaxed. It is best to discuss this question with a trained therapist who uses hypnosis. Hypnosis with a qualified therapist is a real option for treating depression and is most effective when used alongside medication and therapy. While more scientific studies are needed to evaluate and understand, just how effective hypnosis is in treating depression and to understand how hypnosis actually works, it is becoming apparent that hypnosis can benefit people with symptoms of depression when used in conjunction with therapy and also medication.