Anxiety and Phobias
The unpleasant sensations felt during an anxiety attack or phobic reaction, are actually the body’s natural response when faced with a perceived challenge. Essentially, the mind prepares the body for ‘Flight or fight’ through the actions of the autonomic nervous system. Breathing, heart-rate and blood-pressure all increase in order to send blood to the muscles where it will be needed and sugar and fat are released into the bloodstream as short and longer-term energy supplies.
In prehistoric times, this would have very effectively prepared us either to fight against an enemy or a wild animal, or to run away and flee the danger. Unfortunately, in our modern world, our bodies can’t tell the difference between an anxiety-provoking reality or a vividly-imagined one, so we get a similar response in both cases which can often be unsettling or distressing. This is known as a ‘Maladaptive response’ meaning it used to be very valuable to us (And still can be in real life-threatening situations) but is now causing us problems. Where the anxiety isn’t really associated with anything, I’s known as ‘Free-floating anxiety’ and where it’s associated with a particular stimulus, (For example, spiders) it’s known as a phobia.
Hypnosis can help to reduce and eliminate anxiety and phobic reactions by helping us achieve deep relaxation states which are invariably pleasant and incompatible with anxious responses. Under hypnosis, suggestions such as ‘I am completely relaxed during my aeroplane journey’ can be planted in the subconscious mind and subsequently activated to induce relaxation even when experiencing situations that used to cause anxious or phobic reactions.