The applicability of hypnosis in major depressive disorder

Topics: Major depressive disorder, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychotherapy Pages: 5 (1290 words) Published: November 13, 2013


Discuss the applicability of the use of hypnosis in the management of Major Depressive Disorder

Discuss the applicability of the use of hypnosis in the management of Major Depressive Disorder
Hypnotherapy is an applicable treatment method in the management of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), however further evidence and research is required to validate its’ integration into cognitive behavioural therapy. Depression is a serious issue, with rates rising dangerously every year. The National Institute of Health (1999, as cited in Yapko, 2001) estimated almost 20 million indivuals suffering from the disorder in America. In addition, the highly commorbid and complex nature of MDD has required therapists to promote a multi-modal approach to treating depressive disorders (Alladin, 2012). Hypnosis – a condition of increased suggestibility (Crook, 2012) - has only recently been considered a treatment option for depression. The integration of hypnotherapy has shown significant, positive results based on different techniques which in turn, focus on various characteristics and symptoms of MDD. This paper explores the applicability of hypnotherapy in the management of MDD through the studies of many psychologists who support hypnotherapy as an alternative and integrative treatment for depression.

The application of hypnotherapy has previously been questioned as it was thought to enhance suicidal behaviour in depressives (Alladin, 2006 as cited in Alladin, 2010). Furthermore, therapists were unclear as to how they should use hypnotherapy to treat depression because there were no guides or manuals to assist them (Alladin, 2010). As well as this, there were very few controlled clinical trials using hypnosis and this made therapists hesitant about treating their patients with hypnotherapy (Alladin, 2012). Recently, however, the work of Yapko (1988, 1992, 1997, 2012, 2006) (as cited in Alladin 2010) tells us that hypnosis combined with CBT is effective in managing the complex nature of depression. He gives six clinical reasons as to why hypnosis should be used in treating depression: “hypnosis (a) amplifies subjective experience; (b) serves as a powerful method for interrupting symptomatic patterns; (c) facilitates experiential learning; (d) helps to bridge and contextualize responses; (e) provides different and more flexible models of inner reality and (f) helps to establish focus of attention” (Yapko, 1992 as cited in Alladin, 2010). Yapko (1991, 2001, 2006) (as cited bin Lynn, Barnes, Deming, 2010) has effectively applied hypnosis in treating depression by combining hypnotherapy with cognitive-behavioural, interpersonal and strategic methods.

Causing changes on a cognitive level, hypnosis has been considered a suitable method in allowing patients to cope with their depression in a step-by-step manner (van Dyck & Spinhoven, 1994). Working from Hilgard’s neo-dissociation model and the cognitive behavioural model, van Dyck (1991)( as cited in van Dyck & Spinhoven 1994) suggests three hypnotherapeutic strategies: symptom modification, ego strengthening and exploration. These three strategies look to remove a patient’s experience of pain and suppress negative feelings. Instead, positive feelings are enhanced through re-experiencing memories with “a great deal of affect” (van Dyck & Spinhoven, 1994). Similarly, Yapko (2001) highlighted the importance of teaching skills to clients such as the ability to recognize and self- correct distortions in the form of negative and depressive interpretation of life events (Yapko, 2001). Hypnotherapy also teaches the patient to develop strategies that enable them to tackle life tasks, and the ability to relate to others in a positive way. Therefore, hypnotherapy can be applicable in managing MDD through processes of enhancing self-awareness and positive thought.

Hypnosis reduces the common symptoms of major depression such as agitation and rumination in particular...
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