An Effective Treatment for Anxiety
For the last five years, his life had been a living hell. When Tony came to see me, he suffered from severe panic attacks. He told me that he had been getting treatment at a major university for Thanatophobia -fear of death.
According to Medical News Today, 1 in 5 adults have an anxiety disorder in the US, and these numbers are comparable across all Western nations. Anxiety is emotional cancer. It starts with feeling fear, and gradually the fear takes over the person’s life until it becomes debilitating.
Imagine being trapped in your own house. The minute you step outside of the door, you are gripped with severe chest pains, and your stomach turns upside down, feeling like you lost control over your car while driving on an icy road. You literally think you are going to die. When Tony came to see me, his anxiety had developed into a generalized anxiety disorder. He was imprisoned by his own mind. He could no longer work, meet friends and family.
Tony had previously been treated using a combination of exposure therapy and cognitive therapy. The psychologist had him watching films and documentaries about people who were dying. Afterward, they would talk about his thoughts and feelings and try to challenge irrational beliefs. This treatment only made matters worse, he became more anxious.
When interviewing Tony, I asked him if he was afraid of dying.
No, I’m not afraid, but I have this terrible anxiety when I talk about death. His attitude towards death was that when he dies, there is no more pain. He wasn’t worried about actually being dead. At first I was confused, because how was it possible that all the experts had gotten it wrong? I then asked to tell me if he had some bad experiences with death before he developed anxiety. Yes, he said, my sister died of cancer, and I was the one who took care of her. A couple of years later, a good friend of mine also died of cancer, and I was the one who was there for him daily. It was horrible watching people whom I love, die, and how they lost all their dignity.
I stopped Tony and said, maybe what you’re afraid of is losing your dignity if you get sick? It was as if a weight fell off his shoulder, yes, that’s right!
I then proceeded to hypnotize Tony, and in hypnosis, we explored what dignity actually means. That a person can never lose their dignity as long as they cherish love. Dignity is a state of mind of respect. If you love, then you respect the other person, and they will respect you. When caring for your sister and your friend, you felt love, fear of losing them grief, but at no point did they lose their dignity.
Tony left the office and sent a text message. Psych Sig it’s so strange, I’m not afraid to walk through the crowded train station. Upon a 6 month follow up, Tony was still free from anxiety.
Hypnotherapy was very effective in treating Tony’s anxiety. He came in for a 90-minute session. Upon follow up he was still angst-free. For any treatment to work, the therapist has to understand what the problem really is. A diagnosis is a useful tool because they suggest medical and psychological treatment protocols. Still, it is too easy to be fooled by a diagnosis because the therapist does not find the issues that are unique to the person’s problem.
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