Monday, September 11, 2006

Hypnotherapy for Agoraphobia

Some form of hypnosis has been used to help people overcome fears, problem behaviors, and illnesses throughout much of recorded history. Modern clinical hypnosis began in about 1773. Clinical hypnosis is the form of hypnosis used today to treat psychological and physical problems, including agoraphobia, in which the patient goes into an altered or relaxed state and is guided by a therapist’s suggestions.

Hypnosis is a method of harnessing the power of your subconscious mind to work for you in overcoming agoraphobia. How well hypnotherapy works for you will depend on how willing you are to be hypnotized and the degree to which your fear is rooted in your subconscious mind.

Hypnotherapists who treat agoraphobia believe that agoraphobic fear finds its roots in the subconscious. Proponents of hypnotherapy also believe the subconscious mind has tremendous power to influence the autonomic nervous system. They believe that if the subconscious mind perceives danger, it sets off the fight or flight response. In this context, panic disorder and, in some cases, agoraphobia occur when the subconscious mind gets confused about when to set off the fight or flight response and when not to.

The process of hypnosis resembles a very relaxed day-dreaming or a wakeful sleep. During hypnosis, your brain wave cycle rhythm lowers into a meditative state sometimes called the “alpha state.” During the alpha state, electrical impulses in your brain cycle at a rate of about ten cycles per second. In this state, you are fully aware of the messages and images in your subconscious mind.

When you are hypnotized, a therapist guides you through the reprogramming of your subconscious mind while in the alpha or meditative state. Negative subconscious thoughts and associations are replaced with positive ones.

It is important to undergo hypnosis in a safe and comfortable setting. Since people with agoraphobia naturally have trouble getting to and staying relaxed in a therapist’s office, many hypnotherapists make home visits for agoraphobics.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Agoraphobia Recovery Tip: Never Give Up!

Setbacks can be one of the most discouraging things during your recovery from agoraphobia. They can make you feel like you have lost weeks, months, or years of hard-won progress and that you are back at square one. Fortunately, this is not the case. Don't give up when you experience a setback.

My recovery from panic disorder with agoraphobia didn't happen overnight. It was a hard fought battle with many setbacks. But it did happen, and today I am totally free from panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Your recovery may not happen overnight either, and your progress toward recovery may not all be forward. You may experience some tough setbacks along the way. I am writing you today to tell you not to make too much out of these setbacks.

I can remember working really hard with my desensitization program and getting to where I could go to four high school classes in a row before going home. It had taken me the better part of the past year to achieve this and I had started by going to only one class per day and slowly added classes over time.

Then one morning early in my junior year of high school, I had a major panic attack during first period and had to go home. I was devastated. I thought all of my hard work had gone down the drain and I would have to start my recovery over from scratch. I was so consumed by these thoughts that I didn't go to school at all for the next couple of days.Looking back, I am glad to be able to tell you that my thinking was totally wrong. This happened in September. By mid-November of that year I was playing on my school basketball team and attending almost a full day of school on a regular basis.

My encouragement to you is that all progress toward your recovery from agoraphobia may not be forward progress. There may be days when you experience so much panic or anxiety that it feels like you are right back where you started. But take heart, days like this do not mean you are starting your recovery over.

Each time you reach a new level in your recovery, you can get back to that level fairly quickly no matter what setbacks you face. It's best not to gauge the progress of your recovery from agoraphobia on a day to day basis. In most cases, recovery from panic disorder and agoraphobia is more like a marathon than a sprint. You can best measure progress toward your recovery over longer intervals of time.

Because of this, don't take setbacks too seriously no matter how bad they may feel. In fact, it might be better just to expect to have some setbacks along the way. In the end, if you persist in doing the things you need to be doing to recover, you will recover from agoraphobia and get your life back, no matter what happens on any given day.

Take it from someone who went through lots of setbacks but ended up overcoming a case of severe agoraphobia with panic attacks. Persistence wins in the end. I know this because I did it – and if I did it, so can you.

Always remember:

“Being defeated is a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” (Anonymous)

Never give up on your recovery!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Anxiety and Pregnancy

If you have an anxiety disorder like agoraphobia while you are pregnant, does this mean that you are more likely to give birth to an unhealthy baby?

The answer is no - that is, according to a review of available data on this topic conducted by a team at the University Of Texas Medical Branch.

This is good news for pregnant women with agoraphobia or other anxiety disorders.

After reviewing 50 studies from a period of 39 years, the team concluded that there is no relationship between anxiety and pregnancy outcomes. In other words, if you have agoraphobia and are highly anxious during pregnancy, this does not increase your risk of birth complications such as having a low-birth-weight baby or longer labor.

These conclusions were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in New Orleans."Pregnancy can be an emotional time for women and, for some, anxiety associated with the pregnancy can be compounded by pre-existing difficulties such as having an inadequate social support system," said Heather Littleton, the lead author of the team that conducted the literature review.

Even though anxiety didn't show any effect on birth outcomes overall, Littleton and her team members did acknowledge that more research is needed to be sure that their findings apply to people with the highest levels of anxiety, such as people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

In Littleton's own words, "This review of the literature clearly shows that additional research is necessary to completely understand how to best treat an anxious pregnant woman, and such work evaluating the mental and physical health of women during pregnancy could help to increase the number of healthy babies that are born."

Source: "No Direct Link Between Anxiety, Pregnancy Outcomes Women with symptoms have no increased risk for birth complications, researchers say" by Robert Preidt, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News)