Depression can have a crippling effect upon one’s life, strangling joy and making all of existence feel burdensome. Nothing seems worth the effort, even if we had the energy. In severe cases, depression can even weaken the body, leaving us prone to illness and myriad physical pains. Most people who have been diagnosed with this condition are prescribed antidepressants, but concerns about probable side-effects and the habit-forming nature of taking drugs have made them seem to be less and less appealing forms of therapy.
Probably the biggest problem with antidepressants is that they interfere with the natural mind-body relationship. Our emotions and physical symptoms are meant to tell us things about the quality of our thoughts and attitudes, so that we can make adjustments and get back into harmony with our bodies. This kind of natural therapy would allow us to get to the root causes of ailments, which lie with our (often habitual) negative thoughts and beliefs. Antidepressants, then, correct certain symptoms by altering brain chemistry; but they fail to address the underlying issues that caused those chemical imbalances in the first place.
Hypnotherapy can work with mental and emotional issues at the level where they originate: with our thoughts. Hypnosis quite simply seeks to replace a negative thought pattern with a more positive motif, using the power of suggestion. It has proven effective in treating not only depression but also other mental problems such as tension, anxiety, paranoia, compulsion, and various addictions.
Some people fear hypnotherapy, believing that it obliges them to surrender their control over themselves to a therapist. In reality, a hypnotic trance is just a state of focused concentration that allows us to block out all distractions and focus on (1) ridding ourselves of negative thoughts and (2) opening up to new, more positive suggestions. Hypnosis can also allay stress in general by putting the mind and body into a relaxed state.
To reinforce their treatments, many therapists teach their patients self-hypnosis. This can also be learned (albeit perhaps not as easily) from audio and videotapes. Self-hypnosis induces the same trance state that we’re likely to reach in a more formal setting, the difference in this case being that we provide ourselves with the constructive suggestions to replace our negative thoughts. In the end, however, the distinction may be irrelevant. Whether administered by a therapist or self-induced, hypnotherapy works its magic with the power of our own minds.