Tag: hypnosis for depression

Research Evaluating the Use of Self-Hypnosis to Treat Depression

Depression is a major disorder that has a life-altering impact on people around the world. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) named it the fourth leading cause of the burden of disease on a worldwide basis. A study by Singleton, Bumpstead, O’Brien, Lee & Meltzer (2001) revealed depressive disorder as affecting 60%-70% of the entire population in the United Kingdom one or more times during the course of their lives. At any one time, 5%-10% of the population in the UK is suffering from depression severe enough to interfere with the normal activities of daily living (Singleton et al., 2001).

The subjects were gathered from Edinburgh, UK, which had 30 physicians serving a population of 85,000 at that time. In the National Health Service (NHS) 90% of all medical care is provided by general practitioners (GPs). Therefore, the subjects came from a homogenous group who, for the most part, never saw a mental health professional. According to Goldberg & Huxley (1992), patients were treated by a GP for both physical and mental disorders. Depression was most often treated with antidepressants. In 1992/1993, 1.9% of the population was taking antidepressants. That number had risen to 8.8% by 2007/2008. Depressive disorder is not only devastating to the individual; it also places a large financial burden on society.

New ways of treating depression are being explored. The Cochrane society conducted a meta-analysis, which indicated a statistically insignificant difference between patients treated with antidepressants and those who were given placebo. (Moncrieff, Wessely & Hardy, 2002, p. 1). The results were similar to those in trials (published and unpublished) comparing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to placebo. According to Kirsch, Moore, Scoboria, & Nicholls (2002), there was minimal difference between the two groups. That conclusion was also drawn by Thomson (1982) in a comparison between tricyclic antidepressants and placebo.

The required criteria for the subjects in the Singleton et al., (2001) research were age 18-65, having a recent incident of depression (either first or recurrent episode) and were going to be treated by the GP with antidepressants. Those patients who had an incident of depression within the preceding 6 month period, were bipolar, psychotic, currently addicted to alcohol or recreational drugs or had suicidal ideation were excluded. The patients accepted into the trial were given three choices: self-help, self-hypnosis therapy or antidepressants. The self-hypnosis utilized an audio program called Integrated Mental Training. Randomization was counterindicated for this study.

The comparison measurements were done using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, Ball, & Ranieri, 1996; Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock & Erbaugh, 1961), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI 18; Derogatis, 1993), and the Short-Form Quality of Life Questionnaire (SF-36; McHorney, Ware, & Raczek, 1993; Ware & Sherbourne, 1992) administered once before the study began and a second time at the conclusion.

Following twelve weeks of treatment, depression was measured with the following results on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; Beck et al., 1996). Comparison was made using this study and other research used for the purpose of benchmarking. The results indicated a statistically significant improvement between the BDI mean prior to treatment and the BDI mean after treatment. One result showed a 66% improvement. Conclusions support using self hypnosis for depression as a viable treatment for depressive disorder. Research in a randomized and controlled study is advised.


Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., Ball, R., & Ranieri, W. F. (1996). Comparison of Beck Depression Inventories-IA and -II in Psychiatric Outpatients. Journal of Personality Assessment, 67, 588–597.

Beck, A., Ward, C., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561–571.

Derogatis, L. R. (1993). Brief symptom inventory (BSI) (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Goldberg, D., & Huxley, P. (1992). Common mental disorders: A bio-social model. London: Routledge.

Kirsch, I., Moore, T. J., Scoboria, A., & Nicholls, S. S. (2002). The emperor’s new drugs: An analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Prevention & Treatment, 5, article 23. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume5/toc-jul15-02.htm

McHorney, C., Ware, J., & Raczek, A. (1993). The MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36): II. Psychometric and clinical tests of validity in measuring physical and mental health constructs. Medical Care, 31, 247–263.

Moncrieff, J., Wessely, S., & Hardy, R. (2002). Active placebo versus antidepressants for depression (Cochrane Review). Cochrane Library, 3, 1.

Singleton, N., Bumpstead, R., O’Brien, M., Lee, A., & Meltzer, H. (2001). Office of National Statistics: Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households, 2000. London: The Stationary Office.

Thomson, R. (1982). Side effects and placebo amplification. British Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 64–68.

Ware, J., & Sherbourne, C. (1992). The MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36): I.Conceptual framework and item selection. Medical Care, 30, 473–483.

World Health Organization. (2009). World Health Organization: Programmes and projects/ mental health/disorders management/ depression. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://www. who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/


Leave a Comment February 12, 2011

Hypnotherapy for Depression: Meta-Analysis of Previous Research

According to a study done by Pilkington, Kirkwood, Rampes & Richardson (2005), mental health disorders compel individuals to search for help other than, or in addition to, prescription medication. Rost (2008) concluded that in the future depression would disable more individuals than any other single mental health problem. Barnes, Bloom & Nahin (2007) stated that nearly a million people in the United States used complementary and alternative methods to combat the effects of depression each year.

The existing body of research into the use of hypnotherapy to alleviate the symptoms of depressive disorder was found to be limited. Miaozun Shih, of Nanhua University, Chiaya, Taiwan, Yuan-Han Yang, of Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Malcolm Koo, of Nanhua University, Chiaya, Taiwan compiled a group of 6 studies from among those that investigated the efficacy of treating depression with hypnosis.

The purpose of the meta-analysis was to determine which symptoms of depression could benefit from hypnotherapy. Thirty-two symptoms were identified, however, there was no definite number of studies to be included. The method of compilation was to scan 6 databases using a set of keywords to find relevant studies. Those 5 keywords were hypnosis, hypnotherapy, mood disorder, depression and dysthmia. The electronic databases they searched were the Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Review Group (CCDAN), Cochrane Library, PubMed, PsiTri, PsychLit and Embase.  Inclusion was limited to studies that utilized hypnotic intervention in an attempt to alleviate depressive symptoms, used a control group that received no treatment or standard treatment only and evaluated depressive status of the subjects with a standardized instrument, for example, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Two independent researchers performed the data extraction and evaluated it for inclusion or exclusion according to the standards set forth.

Publication in the English language was not a criterion and of the 6 acceptable studies, 4 were in English, 1 in Chinese and one in Japanese. Standard acceptable methods of statistical compilation were used in comparing the information from all 6 studies. The concensus was that depressed patients benefited more from hypnotherapy than from either standard treatment or placebo.

Suggestions for future research are to explore the effects of hypnosis on depressed individuals in relation to specific symptomatology and severity of the depression. This meta-analysis shows that hypnotherapy for depression does have a beneficial effect. However, only additional controlled studies will reveal to what degree and in conjunction with what prescription medication and/or other therapies.


Barnes, P. M., Bloom, B., & Nahin, R. (2007). Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Retrieved January 21, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/ nhsr012.pdf

Pilkington, K., Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., & Richardson, J. (2005). Yoga for depression: The research evidence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 89, 13-24.

Rost, K. (2008). Disability from depression: The public health challenge to primary care. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 20, 1-5.

Shih, M., Yang, Y., & Koo, M. (2009). A meta-analysis of hypnosis in the treatment of depressive symptoms: A brief communication. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 57(4), 431-442.


Leave a Comment February 11, 2011


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