The most common fear I treat after the fear of death is public speaking. Other types of fear I regularly help people with are:
- Driving/Driving tests
- Open spaces
- Social phobia
- Medical procedures (needles, anaesthesia etc)
- Relationships & commitment
- Bed wetting
- Sexual performance anxiety
- Losing control
Panic disorders including fears and phobias respond excellently to hypnopsychotherapy because all are learned behaviours and come under the heading of cause and effect and once the cause is unearthed during hypno-regression, the emotional effects dissipate.
Phobias and the resulting panic are some of the most debilitating conditions that can affect the human population. They represent the ultimate panic attack. Once triggered, the heart races, the head spins, palms sweat, knees buckle and breathing becomes laboured. The vision may blur and, in some cases, a fainting spell occurs. Some who are particularly hard hit say it feels as if they are going to have a heart attack.
Over 10% of the population will experience a phobia at some point in their lives. It can be helpful to understand that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Most people who experience panic attacks would describe themselves as feeling instantly out of control as soon as the attack hits. A primary concern for many is losing control of their body. Think about it: all of a sudden, huge, frightening physical symptoms come screaming into their awareness overwhelming them with mental and physical uncertainty and instability.
This initial physical and emotional hijacking is coupled with thoughts of impending doom such as one making a scene, having a heart attack and/or not able to breathe.
With the above in mind, it is easy to see why people who suffer from panic attacks will voluntarily commit themselves to a form of house arrest and that’s how agoraphobia develops.
“How do I know if I’ve had a panic attack?”
Well, other than shaking in your boots and possibly having experienced a genitourinary system malfunction, the DSM-IV lists thirteen symptoms to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of panic attack.
The affected person must have four or more of these symptoms within ten minutes of the beginning of an attack in order to meet the panic attack criteria:
- Pounding heartbeat or disturbingly fast heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking
- Pains in the chest; many people feel as though they are having a heart attack
- Nausea or stomach ache
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded as if he or she is going to pass out
- Feeling of being outside of one’s body or being detached from reality
- Fear that he or she is out of control or crazy
- Fear that he or she is going to die
- Feeling of tingling or numbness
- Chills or hot flashes
Lets look at agoraphobia as an example of a phobia
I’ve picked this example because it is so common and also so devastating for the sufferer. The agoraphobic may become a prisoner in their own homes because they can no longer stand the anticipation of another panic attack. The following may become off limits:
- Public places or enclosed spaces
- Confinement or restriction of movement
- Barbers, hairdressers or dentists chair
- Shop queues
- Waiting for appointments
- Prolonged conversations in person or on the phone
- Travel on trains, buses, planes, subways or cars
- Over bridges or through tunnels
- Being far away from home
- Open spaces
- Wide streets
- Potential conflict-laden situations
- Arguments, interpersonal conflicts, expression of anger
The agoraphobic may avoid one or many of these situations as a way to feel safe. Sometimes, the need to avoid is so strong that some agoraphobics will quit their jobs, stop driving or taking public transportation, stop shopping or eating in restaurants, or in the worst cases, never venture outside their home for years.
Listed below are the types of fearful images associated with dreaded situations. These anxiety-producing thought-images can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than an hour.
Agoraphobic hypnotic images:
- Fainting or collapsing in public
- Developing severe physical symptoms
- Losing control
- Becoming confused
- Being unable to cope
- Causing a scene
- Having a heart attack or other physical illness
- Being unable to get home or to another “safe” place
- Being trapped or confined
- Becoming mentally ill
- Being unable to breathe
What these thoughts ultimately do is that they perpetuate the agoraphobic’s belief that if they just avoid the above situations, then they are safe.
The heart-breaking side to this coping action is that agoraphobics are essentially retreating into themselves and sacrificing their friendships, family responsibilities and/or career.
And this loss of income, relationships, affections and accomplishments compounds the problem because one can begin to experience a deepening of already low self-esteem, isolation, loneliness and depression.
This ultimately means that there is a good chance that the agoraphobic can become dependent on alcohol or drugs in an unsuccessful attempt to cope with their initial problem and its emotional aftermath.
This can very from two to three sessions for a simple phobia to 8 – 12 sessions where the panic is generalized and severe. We use a combination of hypno-cognitive therapy and hypnoanalysis to find the cause and thereby eliminate the emotional effects. There is no reason to live with something panicking you on the inside but outside your own control.