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Hypnosis and Depression

Below are research articles on hypnosis and depression with the key points highlighted in blue for your ease of reading.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis Volume 55, Issue 2, 2007 Special Issue: Evidence-Based Practice in Clinical Hypnosis—Part I Cognitive Hypnotherapy for Depression: An Empirical Investigation

To investigate the effectiveness of cognitive hypnotherapy (CH), hypnosis combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), on depression, 84 depressives were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of treatment of either CH or CBT alone. At the end of treatment, patients from both groups significantly improved compared to baseline scores. However, the CH group produced significantly larger changes in Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Hopelessness Scale. Effect size calculations showed that the CH group produced 6%, 5%, and 8% greater reduction in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, respectively, over and above the CBT group. The effect size was maintained at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups. This study represents the first controlled comparison of hypnotherapy with a well-established psychotherapy for depression, meeting the APA criteria for a “probably efficacious” treatment for depression.

This study investigated the effect of hypnosis on anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleepiness in hemodialysis patients. Twenty-nine patients participated in the 15-day study. A single hypnosis session was performed on Day 8. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleepiness were measured at baseline, on Day 8, and on Day 15 (HADS, MFI, ESS). Daily fatigue was also measured numerically. Anxiety, depression, and sleepiness significantly decreased after hypnosis. Weekly measures of fatigue remained stable; however, daily fatigue decreased.

Over the past 30 years, mental health practitioners, encouraged by rigorous empirical studies and literature and meta-analytic reviews, have increasingly appreciated the ability of hypnosis to modulate attention, imagination, and motivation in the service of therapeutic goals. This article describes how hypnosis can be used as an adjunctive procedure in the treatment of depression and rumination symptoms, in particular. The focus is on attention-based treatments that include rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive control training, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The authors provide numerous examples of techniques and approaches that can potentially enhance treatment gains, including a hypnotic induction to facilitate mindfulness and to motivate mindfulness practice. Although hypnosis appears to be a promising catalyst of attention and mindfulness, research is required to document the incremental value of adding hypnosis to the treatments reviewed.

Depressive disorders constitute a serious problem in the United States and around the world. The appearance of practice guidelines and lists of evidenced-based therapies suggests that adequate treatments for depression exist. However, a careful consideration of what is known and not known about the treatment of depression leaves plenty of room for improved approaches to addressing this condition. Although there has been a dearth of research on the treatment of depression using hypnosis, there are several compelling arguments for the inclusion of hypnotic approaches in the array of current strategies for dealing with depression. However, traditional "gold-standard" research methods, namely randomized controlled trials, have many shortcomings for identifying the potential impact of hypnosis on depression. Other strategies, notably single-case design and benchmarking approaches, may offer a more practical solution to the problem of determining "what works for depression."

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2010 Apr;58(2):165-85. doi: 10.1080/00207140903523194. Evidence-based hypnotherapy for depression. Alladin A.

Cognitive hypnotherapy (CH) is a comprehensive evidence-based hypnotherapy for clinical depression. This article describes the major components of CH, which integrate hypnosis with cognitive-behavior therapy as the latter provides an effective host theory for the assimilation of empirically supported treatment techniques derived from various theoretical models of psychotherapy and psychopathology. CH meets criteria for an assimilative model of psychotherapy, which is considered to be an efficacious model of psychotherapy integration. The major components of CH for depression are described in sufficient detail to allow replication, verification, and validation of the techniques delineated. CH for depression provides a template that clinicians and investigators can utilize to study the additive effects of hypnosis in the management of other psychological or medical disorders. Evidence-based hypnotherapy and research are encouraged; such a movement is necessary if clinical hypnosis is to integrate into mainstream psychotherapy.

Postpartum depression is experienced by 10-15% of women who give birth (Bloch, Rolenberg, Koren, & Klein, 2006). This disorder causes maternal distress and has been significantly associated with infant and child developmental problems (Carter, Garrity-Rokous, Chazan-Cohen, Little, & Briggs-Gowan, 2001). Once believed to be contraindicated (Crasilneck & Hall, 1985), hypnosis for depressive disorders has been advocated as an effective intervention strategy (Yapko, 2001). Addressing specific symptoms and skill development has been promoted as an effectual hypnotic strategy for depression (Yapko, 2001); however, little empirical evidence of the efficacy of hypnotherapy for postpartum depression or effective hypnotic strategies exists. The present article is a report of a single case in which hypnotherapy was successfully utilized in the treatment of Postpartum Depression by attending to the specific problems presented by the client and developing client skills to resolve existing problems and prevent their recurrence.

Traumatic events of many sorts result in the now familiar symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many accounts have been published of the helpful role of hypnosis in symptom amelioration when the symptom onset is immediate, or even delayed,following the trauma. For some patients, though, a virtual collapse of adaptive functioning occurs after long periods of relatively symptom-free functioning. For such individuals, the relevance of the earlier trauma to their current problems may not be recognized, either by those treating them or by themselves. This case study is an attempt to illustrate treatment strategies that may be helpful in such cases, based on a good treatment outcome with a seriously ill woman, where hypnosis was an integral part of a brief, but intensive, in patient treatment program.

This article summarizes aspects of effective psychotherapy for major depression and describes how hypnosis can further enhance therapeutic effectiveness. Hypnosis is helpful in reducing common symptoms of major depression such as agitation and rumination and thereby may decrease a client' sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Hypnosis is also effective in facilitating the learning of new skills, a core component of all empirically supported treatments for major depression. The acquisition of such skills has also been shown to not only reduce depression, but also the likelihood of relapses, thus simultaneously addressing issues of risk factors and prevention.

This study (n = 465) examined if (a) hypnotic susceptibility (assessed by the Harvard Group Scale, Form A) was related to state and trait depression, and physical and social anhedonia, and (b) phenomenological experiences (assessed by the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory [PCI]) varied with depression, anhedonia,and hypnotizability during hypnosis, compared with a sitting quietly condition. Only physical anhedonia showed a weak, but significant, negative correlation with hypnotizability. Hypnosis, compared with the sitting quietly condition, facilitated lowering of feelings of sadness especially for the chronically depressed. Other results pertaining to phenomenological experiences suggest that in future studies, instead of only correlating individual difference variables with hypnotizability, it may be more fruitful to explore their relationships with what happens during hypnosis in terms of reported phenomenological experiences.

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