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Review the Different Hypnotherapeutic Treatments for Stress, Anxieties and Phobias, Along with Any Limitations of This Treatment

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Module 6 – Essay

Review the different hypnotherapeutic treatments for stress, anxieties and phobias, along with any limitations of this treatment

Stephen Richards wrote “When you explore your fear then you set yourself free.” This is also pertinent to stress, anxiety and phobias. The first explorational step requires a thorough understanding of these conditions. Stress, anxiety and phobias are disorders that share certain commonalities, and can all be related to each other. Developing an understanding of these conditions, their attributes and differences will help develop a suitable treatment plan for our clients. By acquiring the correct coping strategies our client can learn to deal with stress and anxiety in a productive way.

Stress is something we all experience; it’s the body's natural reaction to fear or change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. Fear and anxiety often occur together, but these terms are not interchangeable. Even though symptoms typically overlap, a person's experience with these emotions differs based on their context. Fear relates to a known or understood threat, whereas anxiety follows from an unknown or poorly defined threat. The client’s anxiety may also originate from an underlying psychological or physical reason.

It is important to remember that stress is a normal part of life. Stress is a complex condition; it warns us when we encounter difficult situations, motivates us to take action to help reduce the stress we are dealing with, in turn making our lives better. In small amounts stress is actually a good thing; it enables us to think critically and consider the consequences of our decision. Our life styles can be very challenging which induces the feeling of stress. Some handle stress better than others, some even thrive on stress. It helps them to cope with their busy lives, it keeps the blood flowing. But when that stress starts to affect our everyday life causing us to feel sick, anxious, unhappy, or fatigued it is advised to seek the appropriate type of help.

The origin of stress is genetic and environmental. A child of stressed-out parents, are less likely to be able to handle a stressful situation positively in their own life, partly through the genes they’ve inherited and partly through watching their parents react badly to stress. It is like an unwelcome gift handed down from one generation to the next.

A change in a person’s life such as moving to a new home, getting a divorce, having children, getting married or a bereavement can cause a fear of change. Sometimes clients can recognise this fear and can deal with it. However, if the client is not able to identify the cause of stress it makes them feel out of control and unsure of what they actually feel stressed about; this could lead to anxiety.

Stress can be divided into 6 categories. The first is hypostress which is caused by a lack of stimulation, motivation and boredom. Eustress is a positive short-term stress that increases motivation and performance. Acute stress is how we currently perceive stress that affects us mentally and physically and can generally be treated over a six-week period. Episodic acute stress is more damaging, and the symptoms are associated with migraines, heart attaches, strokes hypertension and gastrointestinal disorders. This condition is treatable and often requires medical intervention. Chronic stress is long term condition characterised by an increase in frequency of incidents. It can also compromise the client immune system and increase the likelihood of cancer and diabetes. Traumatic stress is the result of a traumatic or life changing experience. Potentially this is part of a more serious mental disorder and should be treated by a qualified multidisciplinary team.

Our subconscious is responsible for our survival and when the body reacts to stress it employs the ancient 'fight or flight' response. It is a physiological response triggered when we feel a strong emotion like fear. The subconscious employs a complex network of arousing and inhibiting neurotransmitters. Fear is the normal emotion to feel in response to a danger or threat. The ‘fight or flight’ response evolved to enable us to react with appropriate actions: to run away, to fight, or sometimes freeze in order to be a less visible target.

Fear is an emotional response to a known threat. For example, if you were in a bank and a gang of masked men stormed in with guns shouting, ‘Put your hands in the air!’ you would likely experience a fear response. The danger is real and immediate.

Anxiety can persist because we have an emotional, physical and a cognitive reaction to our anxiety which is self-perpetuating. We get anxious about getting anxious or experience fear of fear. This is even more likely if there is not an obvious source of physical danger in the vicinity, which we can choose to combat or escape. If we can’t see an external danger we tend to use our powerful imagination to search for the source of anxiety. In this way we start responding to perceived dangers: “I might make a fool of myself in the presentation” or “I might fail the exam”. What this can mean is that we create a reason to be anxious which along with our physical symptoms then proves to us that we should be anxious. Anxiety is also cyclical, the more anxious we feel the more anxious we become and the more negative we feel. It creates a feeling of fear that can leads us to avoid certain situations. Anxiety can become all-consuming which could result in depression.

Anxiety is often accompanied by many uncomfortable somatic sensations. Some of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety include headaches, muscle pain and tension, sleep disturbance, tightness felt through the body especially the head, neck, jaw and face, chest pain, ringing or pulsing in the ears, excessive sweating, shaking and trembling, cold chills and hot flushes, accelerated heart rate and numbness and tingling, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness

Although the one danger is real (armed robber) and the other imagined (fear of failure), fear and anxiety are interrelated. When faced with fear, most people will experience the physical reactions that are described under anxiety. Fear causes anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear. But, the subtle distinctions between the two will give you a better understanding of your symptoms and is important for treatment strategies.

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of either an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Fear is also irrational, it can make an ant seem the size of an elephant. Phobias

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