ICARUS Online in the News


At the beginning of the week I was interviewed by a journalist from my local paper the Press and Jornal and talked about the work that me and David Bellamy are doing to help bring change to the military charities sector and also to speed up access to treatment for veterans, uniformed services & their immediate families.

Have a read and please share.

Thanks

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/1438690/turriff-based-ex-marine-sets-up-new-helpline-for-former-military-personnel/

Changes In Treatment Approaches For PTSD


Below is an article taken from the APA website that I find extremely interesting and reassuring that the military is not restricting themselves to CBT and EMDR in treating serving personnel struggling with PTSD.

A psychodynamic treatment for PTSD shows promise for soldiers
March 2012, Vol 43, No. 3
Print version: page 11

PTSD
While cognitive-behavioral therapy remains the most well-researched treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, it doesn’t help all patients. That’s especially true for service members who have been perpetrators as well as victims of violence, says Russell B. Carr, MD, an Army psychiatrist.
“It’s a much more complicated experience, and they often feel a lot of shame in addition to the usual PTSD symptoms,” he says.

For the past six years, Carr has been working with soldiers who haven’t responded to cognitive-behavioral therapy, and he’s developed a new treatment rooted in intersubjective systems theory. This modern take on psychoanalysis pioneered by Robert Stolorow, PhD, posits that the heart of trauma is shame and isolation.
Carr’s therapy, described in the October 2011 issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology, has shown promise helping soldiers who haven’t responded to CBT by addressing the existential dread dredged up by trauma, and the feeling that their entire world has lost meaning. Though Carr’s goals are ambitious, his intervention is relatively short—requiring twice-weekly sessions for up to three months. As a result, the therapist must clearly define goals, keep conversations on track and quickly establish rapport with clients, Carr found.

Short-term therapy—which is typical of CBT, but less common with psychoanalytic approaches—is often the only option in military settings, he says.
“In the military, there is frequently the situation where a patient or therapist is leaving soon,” says Carr. “It’s a transient population, and it limits the length of time we have to work together.”

A key part of intersubjective therapy is helping clients put their feelings around traumatic experiences into words. These feelings aren’t always negative. One patient described in the article found he enjoyed the smell of burning human flesh, and was later horrified and ashamed of his initial reaction. By expressing empathy and not rejecting the soldier, Carr helped the soldier process the experience and reconnect with the civilian world.

Convincing soldiers that a therapist—as well as friends and family—can understand a little of what they are going through lessens their PTSD symptoms, Carr found. In some cases, soldiers even learn from the experience, he says. “Recognizing the fragility of life, you can refocus on what’s important to you, and not waste time on things that aren’t.”
—S. Dingfelder

Life Design


For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading Life Design

Hypnosis and Diabetes


Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.

This is because your pancreas either doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter your body’s cells, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

Continue reading Hypnosis and Diabetes

Hypnosis and Cancer


Cancer-patients-use-hypnosis-in-healing

There is a huge body of research into the use of hypnosis with cancer patientsAs with many types of complementary therapy, one of the main reasons people with cancer use hypnotherapy is to help them relax and cope better with symptoms and treatment. Hypnotherapy can help people to feel more comfortable and in control of their situation.

People with cancer most often use hypnotherapy for sickness or pain. There is some evidence that hypnotherapy helps with these symptoms. It can also help with depression, anxiety and stress.

Some doctors and dentists have training in hypnotherapy. They may use this alongside conventional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Research into Hypnotherapy in People With Cancer
Some reports show that hypnosis can help people to reduce their blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and pain. Hypnosis can create relaxing brain wave patterns. Some clinical trials have looked at how well hypnotherapy works for people with cancer.

Research has looked at the following areas:

Hypnosis and Cancer Pain
A report from the American National Institute for Health in 1996 stated that hypnosis can help to reduce some kinds of cancer pain. A large review in 2006 looked at using hypnotherapy to control distress and pain from medical procedures in children with cancer. The review found that hypnotherapy did seem to help to reduce the children’s pain and distress, but it recommended more research. You can look at this cancer pain review on the Research Council for Complementary medicine website.

In 2012, researchers in Spain again reviewed studies of children with cancer and found that hypnosis appeared to help reduce pain and distress from cancer or from medical procedures.

Hypnosis and Sickness
A large review in 2006 looked at research into hypnotherapy for feeling or being sick from chemotherapy. Most of the studies in this area have been in children. Overall, the studies did show that hypnotherapy might be able to help with chemotherapy sickness in children. There has only been 1 study looking at hypnotherapy for sickness after chemotherapy in adults, so we need more research into this. You can look at this cancer and sickness review on the Research Council for Complementary medicine website.

One study found that hypnosis can help to reduce anticipatory nausea and vomiting. Anticipatory nausea or vomiting happens when people have had nausea or vomiting due to cancer drugs and they then have nausea or vomiting just before their next dose.

Hypnosis and Hot Flushes
A clinical trial in America in 2008 found that women having breast cancer treatment who had hypnosis had fewer hot flushes and the flushes were less severe. The women also had less anxiety, depression, and interference with daily activities, and better sleep.

Hypnosis and Breast Cancer Surgery
A study in 2007 in America gave hypnotherapy to a group of women before breast surgery. The researchers found that hypnotherapy lowered the amount of pain, sickness, tiredness and upset that the women had after surgery. Another American study in 2006 found that hypnotherapy helped to lower anxiety and pain during a biopsy for suspected breast cancer.

Hypnotherapy for Symptom Control in Advanced Cancer
In 2005 researchers carried out a review of studies into hypnotherapy for treating symptoms in people with advanced cancer. There were 27 studies but all were small or of poor quality. So it is not possible to tell whether hypnotherapy can help people with advanced cancer. We need research to find this out and this research below goes a long way in helping medical science discover ways to treat and alleviate the symptoms of cancer.

 

Study 1: Cancer and Hypnosis – 2013 Overview

Hypnosis for cancer care: Over 200 years young
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21165/full

Notes: Hypnosis has been used to provide psychological and physical comfort to individuals diagnosed with cancer for nearly 200 years. The goals of this review are:

1) to describe hypnosis and its components and to dispel misconceptions

2) to provide an overview of hypnosis as a cancer prevention and control technique (covering its use in weight management, smoking cessation, as an adjunct to diagnostic and treatment procedures, survivorship, and metastatic disease)

3) to discuss future research directions. Overall, the literature supports the benefits of hypnosis for improving quality of life during the course of cancer and its treatment.

CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 31-44, January/February 2013
By: Guy H. Montgomery Ph.D., Director, Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program, Associate Professor, Department of Oncological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY

Julie B. Schnur Ph.D., Co-Director, Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program, Assistant Professor, Department of Oncological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY

Kate Kravits MA, RN, HNB-BC, LPC, NCC, ATR-BC, Senior Research Specialist, Division of Nursing Research and Education, Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope, Duarte, CA

Study 2: Hypnosis for Cancer: Another Overview and Suggestions for Future Use and Research Hypnosis in Cancer Care.
http://bscw.rediris.es/pub/bscw.cgi/d4501369/Liossi-Hypnosis_cancer_care.pdf

Notes: Despite conclusive evidence for the efficacy of clinical hypnosis in the management of many cancer related symptoms and particularly acute and chronic pain, hypnosis is currently under-utilized in these applications. This paper gives a brief overview of the contemporary uses of hypnosis in pediatric and adult oncology and shows how hypnosis can be integrated into a total therapeutic process based on the needs and goals of the patient and the health care team treating them. The first section describes studies that have evaluated hypnosis in adult oncology. The second half consists of a review of the hypnosis literature in pediatric oncology. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research, and implications for clinical practice.

Contemp. Hypnosis 23(1): 47-57 (2006)
By: Christina Liossi, University of Southampton, UK

Study 3: Self-Hypnosis for Pain and Anxiety During Biopsy Outpatient Procedures
Adjunctive self-hypnotic relaxation for outpatient medical procedures: A prospective randomized trial with women undergoing large core breast biopsy
http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959(06)00393-9/abstract

Results: Women’s anxiety increased significantly in the standard group (logit slope=0.18, p<0.001), did not change in the empathy group (slope=-0.04, p=0.45), and decreased significantly in the hypnosis group (slope=-0.27, p<0.001). Pain increased significantly in all three groups (logit slopes: standard care=0.53, empathy=0.37, hypnosis=0.34; all p<0.001) though less steeply with hypnosis and empathy than standard care (p=0.024 and p=0.018, respectively). Room time and cost were not significantly different in an univariate ANOVA despite hypnosis and empathy requiring an additional professional: 46min/$161 for standard care, 43min/$163 for empathy, and 39min/$152 for hypnosis. We conclude that, while both structured empathy and hypnosis decrease procedural pain and anxiety, hypnosis provides more powerful anxiety relief without undue cost and thus appears attractive for outpatient pain management.

Notes: Medical procedures in outpatient settings have limited options of managing pain and anxiety pharmacologically. We therefore assessed whether this can be achieved by adjunct self-hypnotic relaxation in a common and particularly anxiety provoking procedure. Two hundred and thirty-six women referred for large core needle breast biopsy to an urban tertiary university-affiliated medical center were prospectively randomized to receive standard care (n=76), structured empathic attention (n=82), or self-hypnotic relaxation (n=78) during their procedures. Patients’ self-ratings at 10min-intervals of pain and anxiety on 0-10 verbal analog scales with 0=no pain/anxiety at all, 10=worst pain/anxiety possible, were compared in an ordinal logistic regression model.

PAIN, Volume 126, Issue 1, Pages 155-164, 15 December 2006
By: Elvira V. Lang, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, Department of Radiology
Kevin S. Berbaum, Salomao Faintuch, Olga Hatsiopoulou, Noami Halsey, Xinyu Li, Michael L. Berbaum, Eleanor Laser, Janet Baum

Study 4: Pre-Surgery Hypnosis for Breast Biopsies – Post-Surgery Pain and Anxiety
Brief presurgery hypnosis reduces distress and pain in excisional breast biopsy patients
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140208410088#preview

Results: Hypnosis reduced postsurgery pain and distress.

Notes: Each year, hundreds of thousands of women undergo excisional breast biopsies for definitive diagnosis. Not only do these patients experience pain associated with the procedure, but they also endure distress associated with the threat of cancer. To determine the impact of brief presurgical hypnosis on these patients’ postsurgery pain and distress and to explore possible mediating mechanisms of these effects, 20 excisional breast biopsy patients were randomly assigned to a hypnosis or control group (standard care).

Hypnosis reduced postsurgery pain and distress.
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 50, Issue 1, 2002, pages 17-32
By: Guy H. Montgomerya, Christina R. Weltza, Megan Seltza, Dana H. Bovbjerga, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

Study 5: Hypnosis to Reduce Presurgical Distress Regarding Breast Biopsies
Hypnosis decreases presurgical distress in excisional breast biopsy patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18227298

Results: Post intervention, and before surgery, patients in the hypnosis group had significantly lower mean values for presurgery VAS emotional upset (16.5 vs 38.2, P < 0.0001, d = .85), VAS depressed mood (6.6 vs 19.9, P < 0.02, d = .67), and SV-POMS anxiety (10.0 vs 5.0, P < 0.0001, d = 0.85); and significantly higher levels for VAS relaxation (75.7 vs 54.2, P < 0.001, d = -0.76) than attention controls. The study results indicate that a brief presurgery hypnosis intervention can be an effective means of controlling presurgical distress in women awaiting diagnostic breast cancer surgery.

Notes: Excisional breast biopsy is associated with presurgical psychological distress. Such distress is emotionally taxing, and may have negative implications for postsurgical side effects and satisfaction with anesthesia. We investigated the ability of a brief hypnosis session to reduce presurgical psychological distress in excisional breast biopsy patients. Ninety patients presenting for excisional breast biopsy were randomly assigned to receive either a 15-minute presurgery hypnosis session (n = 49, mean age: 46.4 (95% CI: 42.3-50.4)) or a 15-minute presurgery attention control session (n = 41, mean age: 45.0 (95% CI: 40.8-49.2)). The hypnosis session involved suggestions for increased relaxation and decreased distress. The attention control session involved nondirective empathic listening. Presurgery distress was measured using visual analog scales (VAS) and the short version of the Profile of Mood States (SV-POMS). Data were analyzed using analysis of variance and chi2 procedures.

Anesth Analg. 2008 Feb;106(2):440-4
By: J. B. Schnur, D. H. Bovbjerg, D. David, K. Tatrow, A. B. Goldfarb, J. H. Silverstein, C. R. Weltz, G. H. Montgomery, Department of Oncological Sciences, Box 1130, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, New York City, NY 10029-6574, USA

Study 6: Hypnosis to Alleviate Anxiety Related to Bone Marrow Aspirates and Biopsies
A Randomized Trial of Hypnosis for Relief of Pain and Anxiety in Adult Cancer Patients Undergoing Bone Marrow Procedures
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07347332.2012.664261#preview

Results: The hypnosis intervention reduced the anxiety associated with this procedure, but the difference in pain scores between the two groups was not statistically significant. The authors conclude that brief hypnosis concurrently administered reduces patient anxiety during bone marrow aspirates and biopsies but may not adequately control pain.

Notes: Pain and anxiety are closely associated with bone marrow aspirates and biopsies. To determine whether hypnosis administered concurrently with the procedure can ameliorate these morbidities, the authors randomly assigned 80 cancer patients undergoing bone marrow aspirates and biopsies to either hypnosis or standard of care.

Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, Volume 30, Issue 3, 2012, pages 281-293
By: Alison Snow LCSW-Ra, David Dorfman PhDb, Rachel Warbet LCSWa, Meredith Cammarata LCSWa, Stephanie Eisenman LCSWa, Felice Zilberfein PhDa, Luis Isola MDc & Shyamala Navada MDc

Author Affiliations:
a:  Department of Social Work Services, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
b:  Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
c:  Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA)

Study 7: Hypnosis Versus Analgesic Cream (Local Anesthetic) to Relieve Lumbar Puncture Induced Pain and Anxiety in Cancer Patients Aged 6 to 16
Randomized clinical trial of local anesthetic versus a combination of local anesthetic with self-hypnosis in the management of pediatric procedure-related pain.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16719602

Results: Confirmed that patients in the local anesthetic plus hypnosis group reported less anticipatory anxiety and less procedure-related pain and anxiety and that they were rated as demonstrating less behavioral distress during the procedure. The level of hypnotizability was significantly associated with the magnitude of treatment benefit, and this benefit was maintained when patients used hypnosis independently.

Notes: A prospective controlled trial was conducted to compare the efficacy of an analgesic cream (eutectic mixture of local anesthetics, or EMLA) with a combination of EMLA with hypnosis in the relief of lumbar puncture-induced pain and anxiety in 45 pediatric cancer patients (age 6-16 years). The study also explored whether young patients can be taught and can use hypnosis independently as well as whether the therapeutic benefit depends on hypnotizability. Patients were randomized to 1 of 3 groups: local anesthetic, local anesthetic plus hypnosis, and local anesthetic plus attention.

Health Psychol. 2006 May;25(3):307-15
By: C. Liossi, P. White, P. Hatira, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

Study 8: Hypnosis for Colonoscopies: Anxiety and Pain (as well as decreasing Colonoscopy Recovery Time)
Hypnosis to Manage Anxiety and Pain Associated with Colonoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Screening: Case Studies and Possible Benefits
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140600856780#preview

Results: Results suggest that hypnosis appears to be a feasible method to manage anxiety and pain associated with colonoscopy, reduces the need for sedation, and may have other benefits such as reduced vasovagal events and recovery time.

Notes: This study explored using hypnosis for pain and anxiety management in 6 colonoscopy patients (5 men, 1 woman), who received a hypnotic induction and instruction in self-hypnosis on the day of their colonoscopy. Patients’ levels of anxiety were obtained before and after the hypnotic induction using Visual Analogue Scales (VAS). Following colonoscopy, VASs were used to assess anxiety and pain during colonoscopy, perceived effectiveness of hypnosis, and patient satisfaction with medical care. Hypnotizability was assessed at a separate appointment. The authors also obtained data (time for procedure, number of vasovagal events, and recovery time) for 10 consecutive patients who received standard care.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 54, Issue 4, 2006.
By: Gary Elkins, Joseph White, Parita Patel, Joel Marcus, Michelle M. Perfect und Guy H. Montgomery

Author Affiliations:
a:  Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA
b:  Scott and White Memorial Hospital, Temple, Texas, USA
c:  Texas A & M University College of Medicine, College Station, Texas, USA
d:  Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA)

Study 9: Hypnosis for Biopsy or Lumpectomy for Breast Cancer – Effect on Amount of Analgesics/Sedatives Required, Pain, Nausea, Fatigue, Discomfort, and Upset (as well as Reduced Surgical Time)
A Randomized Clinical Trial of a Brief Hypnosis Intervention to Control Side Effects in Breast Surgery Patients
http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/17/1304.full.pdf+html

Results: Patients in the hypnosis group required less propofol (means = 64.01 versus 96.64 µg; difference = 32.63; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.95 to 61.30) and lidocaine (means = 24.23 versus 31.09 mL; difference = 6.86; 95% CI = 3.05 to 10.68) than patients in the control group. Patients in the hypnosis group also reported less pain intensity (means = 22.43 versus 47.83; difference = 25.40; 95% CI = 17.56 to 33.25), pain unpleasantness (means = 21.19 versus 39.05; difference = 17.86; 95% CI = 9.92 to 25.80), nausea (means = 6.57 versus 25.49; difference = 18.92; 95% CI = 12.98 to 24.87), fatigue (means = 29.47 versus 54.20; difference = 24.73; 95% CI = 16.64 to 32.83), discomfort (means = 23.01 versus 43.20; difference = 20.19; 95% CI = 12.36 to 28.02), and emotional upset (means = 8.67 versus 33.46; difference = 24.79; 95% CI = 18.56 to 31.03). Institutional costs for surgical breast cancer procedures were $8561 per patient at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Patients in the hypnosis group cost the institution $772.71 less per patient than those in the control group (95% CI = 75.10 to 1469.89), mainly due to reduced surgical time.
Conclusions: Hypnosis was superior to attention control regarding propofol and lidocaine use; pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and emotional upset at discharge; and institutional cost. Overall, the present data support the use of hypnosis with breast cancer surgery patients.

Notes: Breast cancer surgery is associated with side effects, including postsurgical pain, nausea, and fatigue. We carried out a randomized clinical trial to test the hypotheses that a brief presurgery hypnosis intervention would decrease intraoperative anesthesia and analgesic use and side effects associated with breast cancer surgery and that it would be cost effective. We randomly assigned 200 patients who were scheduled to undergo excisional breast biopsy or lumpectomy (mean age 48.5 years) to a 15-minute presurgery hypnosis session conducted by a psychologist or nondirective empathic listening (attention control).. Intraoperative anesthesia use (i.e., of the analgesics lidocaine and fentanyl and the sedatives propofol and midazolam) was assessed. Patient-reported pain and other side effects as measured on a visual analog scale (0-100) were assessed at discharge, as was use of analgesics in the recovery room. Institutional costs and time in the operating room were assessed via chart review.

JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst Volume 99, Issue 17Pp. 1304-1312
By: Guy H. Montgomery, Dana H. Bovbjerg, Julie B. Schnur, Daniel David, Alisan Goldfarb, Christina R. Weltz, Clyde Schechter, Joshua Graff-Zivin, Kristin Tatrow, Donald D. Price and Jeffrey H. Silverstein

Author Affiliations:

  1. Department of Oncological Sciences (GHM, DHB, JBS)
  2. Department of Surgery (AG, CRW), and Department of Anesthesiology Sciences (JHS), Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY
  3. Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (DD)
  4. Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY (CS)
  5. Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University, New York, NY (JGZ)
  6. Department of Psychology, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, Allentown, PA (KT)
  7. Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Neuroscience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (DDP)

Study 10: Self-Hypnosis for Percutaneous Tumor Treatment – Pain and Anxiety
Beneficial Effects of Hypnosis and Adverse Effects of Empathic Attention during Percutaneous Tumor Treatment: When Being Nice Does Not Suffice
http://www.jvir.org/article/S1051-0443(08)00180-2/abstract

Results: Patients treated with hypnosis experienced significantly less pain and anxiety than those in the standard care and empathy groups at several time intervals and received significantly fewer median drug units (mean, 2.0; interquartile range [IQR], 1-4) than patients in the standard (mean, 3.0; IQR, 1.5-5.0; P = .0147) and empathy groups (mean, 3.50; IQR, 2.0-5.9; P = .0026). Thirty-one of 65 patients (48%) in the empathy group had adverse events, which was significantly more than in the hypnosis group (eight of 66; 12%; P = .0001) and standard care group (18 of 70; 26%; P = .0118).

Notes: For their tumor embolization or radiofrequency ablation, 201 patients were randomized to receive standard care, empathic attention with defined behaviors displayed by an additional provider, or self-hypnotic relaxation including the defined empathic attention behaviors. All had local anesthesia and access to intravenous medication. Main outcome measures were pain and anxiety assessed every 15 minutes by patient self-report, medication use (with 50 µg fentanyl or 1 mg midazolam counted as one unit), and adverse events, defined as occurrences requiring extra medical attention, including systolic blood pressure fluctuations (=50 mm Hg change to >180 mm Hg or <105 mm Hg), vasovagal episodes, cardiac events, and respiratory impairment.

Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Volume 19, Issue 6, Pages 897-905, June 2008
Elvira V. Lang, MD, Kevin S. Berbaum, PhD, Stephen G. Pauker, MD, Salomao Faintuch, MD, Gloria M. Salazar, MD, Susan Lutgendorf, PhD, Eleanor Laser, PhD, Henrietta Logan, PhD, David Spiegel, MD (Department of Radiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA

Study 11: Hypnosis for Venipuncture for Blood Sampling of Cancer Patients Aged 6 to 16 – Pain, Anxiety (and also Anxiety of Parents)
A randomized clinical trial of a brief hypnosis intervention to control venipuncture-related pain of pediatric cancer patients
http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959(09)00046-3/abstract

Results: Confirmed that patients in the local anesthetic plus hypnosis group reported less anticipatory anxiety, and less procedure-related pain and anxiety, and were rated as demonstrating less behavioral distress during the procedure than patients in the other two groups. Parents whose children were randomized to the local anesthetic plus hypnosis condition experienced less anxiety during their child’s procedure than parents whose children had been randomized to the other two conditions. The therapeutic benefit of the brief hypnotic intervention was maintained in the follow-up.

Notes: Venipuncture for blood sampling can be a distressing experience for a considerable number of children. A prospective controlled trial was conducted to compare the efficacy of a local anesthetic (EMLA) with a combination of EMLA with self-hypnosis in the relief of venipuncture-induced pain and anxiety in 45 pediatric cancer outpatients (age 6-16years). A secondary aim of the trial was to test whether the intervention will have a beneficial effect on parents’ anxiety levels during their child’s procedure. Patients were randomized to one of three groups: local anesthetic, local anesthetic plus hypnosis, and local anesthetic plus attention.

PAIN, Volume 142, Issue 3, Pages 255-263, April 2009
By: Christina Liossi, Paul White, Popi Hatira, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton S017 1BJ, UK

Study 12: Hypnosis for Chemotherapy Related Nausea and Vomiting
Hypnosis for nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy: a systematic review of the research evidence
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2354.2006.00736.x/abstract

Results: Studies report positive results including statistically significant reductions in anticipatory and “cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting” (“CINV”). Meta-analysis revealed a large effect size of hypnotic treatment when compared with treatment as usual, and the effect was at least as large as that of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Meta-analysis has demonstrated that hypnosis could be a clinically valuable intervention for anticipatory and CINV in children with cancer.

Notes: To systematically review the research evidence on the effectiveness of hypnosis for cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). A comprehensive search of major biomedical databases including MEDLINE, EMBASE, ClNAHL, PsycINFO and the Cochrane Library was conducted. Specialist complementary and alternative medicine databases were searched and efforts were made to identify unpublished and ongoing research. Citations were included from the databases’ inception to March 2005. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were appraised and meta-analysis undertaken. Clinical commentaries were obtained. Six RCTs evaluating the effectiveness of hypnosis in CINV were found. In five of these studies the participants were children.

European Journal of Cancer Care, Volume 16, Issue 5, pages 402-412, September 2007
By: J. RICHARDSON bsc(hons), phd, rn, cpsychol, pgce, rnt, reader in nursing and health studies1,*, J.E. SMITH ba(hons), msc, former research assistant2, G. MCCALL dcr(t), msc, applied hypnosis, senior research radiographer & psychological support3, A. RICHARDSON bn(hons), msc, phd, rn, pgdiped, rnt, professor of cancer and palliative nursing care4, K. PILKINGTON bpharm(hons), dipinfsci, msc, pcme, mrpharms5, I. KIRSCH ba , ma , phd , professor of psychology 6

Author Information:

  1. Faculty of Health and Social Work, Portland Square, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon
  2. NHSP/CAMEO project, Research Council for Complementary Medicine, South-East London Cancer Centre, St Thomas’ Hospital, London
  3. The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, Franklin Wilkins Building, London
  4. Project Manager/Senior Research Fellow, School of Integrated Health and Research Council for Complementary Medicine, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London
  5. School of Applied Psychosocial Studies, Portland Square, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Study 13: Hypnosis and Survivorship (Life with Cancer Post Treatment) – Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors
Randomized Trial of a Hypnosis Intervention for Treatment of Hot Flashes Among Breast Cancer Survivors
http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/26/31/5022

Results: Fifty-one randomly assigned women completed the study. By the end of the treatment period, hot flash scores (frequency × average severity) decreased 68% from baseline to end point in the hypnosis arm (P < .001). Significant improvements in self-reported anxiety, depression, interference of hot flashes on daily activities, and sleep were observed for patients who received the hypnosis intervention (P < .005) in comparison to the no treatment control group.
Conclusion: Hypnosis appears to reduce perceived hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and may have additional benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep.

Notes: Hot flashes are a significant problem for many breast cancer survivors. Hot flashes can cause discomfort, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and decreased quality of life. A well-tolerated and effective mind-body treatment for hot flashes would be of great value. On the basis of previous case studies, this study was developed to evaluate the effect of a hypnosis intervention for hot flashes. Sixty female breast cancer survivors with hot flashes were randomly assigned to receive hypnosis intervention (five weekly sessions) or no treatment. Eligible patients had to have a history of primary breast cancer without evidence of detectable disease and 14 or more weekly hot flashes for at least 1 month. The major outcome measure was a bivariate construct that represented hot flash frequency and hot flash score, which was analyzed by a classic sums and differences comparison. Secondary outcome measures were self-reports of interference of hot flashes on daily activities.

Journal of Clinical Oncology, JCO November 1, 2008 vol. 26 no. 31 5022-5026
By: Gary Elkins, Joel Marcus, Vered Stearns, Michelle Perfect, M. Hasan Rajab, Christopher Ruud, Lynne Palamara and Timothy Keith

Author Affiliations:

  1. From the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University, Waco
  2. Scott and White Memorial Hospital and Clinic, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Temple
  3. Cancer Treatment and Research Center, San Antonio; and University of Texas at Austin, TX; University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
  4. Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Study 14: Use of Hypnosis for Terminally Ill Hospice Cancer Patients – Insomnia, Itchiness, Bowel Issues, Pain, Chemotherapy Side Effects, Relaxation (and also suggests best time for Cancer Patients to start Hypnotherapy is right at time of diagnosis.)
Efficacy of Hypnotherapy as a supplement therapy in Cancer Intervention
http://bscw.rediris.es/pub/bscw.cgi/d4431493/Peynovska-Efficacy_hypnotherapy_supplement_therapy_cancer

Results: Of the 20 patients who completed the three sessions of hypnotherapy all reported varying degrees of anxiety. 5 patients wanted to have hypnotherapy for insomnia as a primary presenting complain, 1 for excessive itchiness during night time, 1 for excessively frequent bowel actions – 8 to 10 times a day for the last year, which invariably interfered with his social life and prevented him from going out, 8 wanted to have hypnotherapy for pain control, 3 patients opted for hypnotherapy to prevent the side effects of chemotherapy and 2 patients had it specifically for severe anxiety and panic attacks.
The 5 patients who had hypnotherapy for insomnia all reported improved sleeping patterns even after the first session. After the third session none of them complained of insomnia and this result was sustained till the followup, which was 3 to 4 months after the first session. They also reported increased energy levels, less tiredness and improved appetite. 2 of the patients with insomnia have been on Temazepam 10mg before bed, which they voluntarily stopped taking after the first session.

The patient with nighttime itchiness reported that their itchiness stopped after the first session and she continued with the remaining two hypnotherapy sessions working towards pain control.

The patient with frequent bowel action reported that he managed to half the number of times he went to the toilet after the second session.
Of the 8 patients who had hypnotherapy for pain control, all reported that the intensity of pain has significantly been reduced and as a result they have reduced heir dose of opiate analgesics taken daily.

The 3 patients, who took part in the study to prevent the side effects of chemotherapy, also reported very good results with no nausea, sickness and less loss of energy, which was in contrast with their previous experience with chemotherapy.

Most of the patients (19 out of 20) reported that after the first two hypnotherapy sessions they were able to relax for the first time in a very long period, felt less tired and more energetic, had more refreshing night sleep and as a result were able to cope better with their daily activities.

It appears that the best time for hypnotherapy to be offered to cancer patients is right at the time of diagnosis. In that way, patients will be able to develop better coping skills much earlier in the disease process, which will help them to possibly prevent severe anxiety, depression and panic attacks from developing. They will have better treatment compliance and generally will have a more positive psychological response to their illness, which has been suggested as a good prognostic factor with an influence on survival.

Notes: All the patients who took part in the trial were day hospice patients of Ann Delhom Centre, Wisdom Hospice, Rochester, UK. Patients were offered three hypnotherapy sessions and were assessed before the first session and after the third one together with a follow up after 3/4 months after the last session. On the first session all the patients were taught ”progressive muscle relaxation” and self- hypnosis. Short ego boosting was also incorporated at the end of the session. The second and third sessions were different for every patient depending on the expressed symptoms and because of that were always individually tailored. Most of the sessions included guided imagery and direct therapeutic suggestions.

2 European Journal of Clinical Hypnosis: 2005 Volume 6 – Issue 1
By: Dr Rumi Peynovska, Dr Jackie Fisher, Dr David Oliver, Prof V.M. MathewStone House Hospital, Dartford, West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust, Wisdom Hospice, Rochester, Medway NHS Trust
Dr Rumi Peynovska MD, MSc, FBAMH – Research Fellow, Stone House Hospital, Dartford, West Kent NHS Trust
Dr Jackie Fisher BSc, MRCGP – Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Wisdom Hospice, Rochester, Medway NHS Trust
Dr David Oliver BSc, FRCGP – Consultant and Medical Director, Wisdom Hospice, Rochester, Medway NHS Trust
Prof. V.M. Mathew MBBS, MPhil, MRCPsych – Clinical Director, Stone House Hospital, Dartford, West Kent NHS Trust

Hypnosis and Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia


dementia

incidence-of-alzheimers

I have seen first hand the effects of dementia on my grandmother, and it was horrendous to see the person I knew and loved fade away. In the last few months of her life, the occasions when she recognised me where less and less frequent and it was such a joy when the light was flicked back on and recognition of who I was flooded across her face. It was wonderful for both of us and in those moments she knew what was happening to her and she was completely lucid and aware, despite the tinge of sadness we made the most of these moments when I visited her. I used hypnosis with her to focus her on the many fun memories she had and also to help bring her back out of her delusions and sometimes, these delusions were upsetting for her, so I used hypnosis to distract and re-focus her attention onto positive, happy memories.

This is such a cruel disease that robs people of their identity, personality and soul and is equally traumatic for their families as they watch them fade away and much more research is needed to enable us to provide better treatment and care for those diagnosed.

Dementia-facts

Study 1: Hypnosis Can Improve Seven Aspects of Quality of Life for Individuals with Dementia
Alternative Approaches to Supporting Individuals With Dementia: Enhancing Quality of Life Through Hypnosis
http://dementiatherapyspecialists.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Alzheimers-Care-Today-article.pdf

Results: This pilot study explored the use of hypnosis to influence 7 aspects of quality of life in individuals with dementia: concentration, relaxation, motivation, activities of daily living, immediate memory, memory of significant events, and socialization. The results indicate that hypnosis has a beneficial impact on quality of life on both a short-term and long-term basis. Unlike the other study participants, the participants in the hypnosis group showed improvement in all 7 items – some of which were maintained over a period of time, such as 21 months or more.

The study authors hypothesize that perhaps an individual with dementia is aware of his or her gradual loss of abilities. That awareness leads to increased levels of anxiety and depression – which are known to involve active cognitive processing. Because the individual’s limited cognitive resources are being used up by anxiety and depression, even greater loss of memory, motivation and ability takes place. The authors further hypothesize that hypnosis may decrease an individual with dementia’s anxiety and depression (through positive suggestion and relaxation), which – in turn – may free up otherwise engaged resources so they are available for the individual to use to successfully accomplish cognitive tasks.

Notes: Eighteen participants were recruited from 2 care homes and were randomly allocated into 1 of 3 groups, the hypnosis group (HG), the discussion group (DG), and the treatment-as-usual group (TG). The HG received weekly individual sessions of hypnosis carried out in their single-occupancy bedrooms at their residential or nursing home. Each session lasted approximately 1 hour. Thus, over the 9-month period each HG participant received a total of 36 hours of hypnosis in 36 sessions. Prior to the first hypnosis session, each participant received 1-hour consultation and interview to customize the terminology used during the hypnosis sessions. This ensured that the language used was familiar and personalized for each participant and to ensure comprehension of suggestions that were to be used.

Participants were also introduced to the process of progressive muscle relaxation. Participants were induced into hypnosis in 3 phases:

(i) eye closure

(ii) progressive muscle relaxation, starting at the scalp and moving progressively down toward the feet

(iii) a permissive induction. Permissive inductions “ask” each participant to allow oneself to become more relaxed. After deepening, the HG participants were given direct suggestions relating to the 7 items described earlier, along with additional “CRC” suggestions (Calmness, Relaxation, and Confidence).

health-alzheimers

Examples of the statements are provided below.

  • At the end of this session, and between now and the next time I see you, you will feel more relaxed and at ease, more motivated to do the things you want to do.
  • You will have clarity of thought; you will be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.
  • You will have fewer concerns and less feelings of anxiousness.
  • Spending time with others will have meaning and you will want to spend time chatting with others.

For each of the 7 items, all participants were rated on a 7-point scale, assessed once at the start of the study period and then at weekly intervals.

Alzheimer’s Care Today 2007; 8(4):321-331
By: Simon Duff, Ph.D., is a chartered forensic psychologist and a trained hypnotherapist, working at the Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, and the Mersey Forensic Psychology Service, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Daniel Nightingale, Ph.D., was first trained in social work, then as a registered nurse in learning disabilities before completing a doctorate in both learning disabilities and transitional shock. He is a trained hypnotherapist and head of dementia services at Southern Cross Healthcare, The Alton Centre, Northampton, United Kingdom.

PTSD and Hypnosis


Over the last year I have been conducting my own meta-analysis of the efficacy of hypnosis in the treatment of a wide variety of different conditions (47 in total) as you can see below.

Hypnosis Research Articles

With my area of expertise being PTSD and Trauma, I could not miss an opportunity to dig deeper into this field and as with all the other subjects, I found that hypnosis either outperformed other modalities or greatly enhanced their performance in the treatment of the illnesses and conditions listed in my research. The papers and articles referenced in the links are available for you to read at your leisure and make your own conclusions, however, in the course of my research I have reinforced and deepened my understanding and belief that hypnosis is a hugely powerful form of treatment for so many afflictions of the human mind, body and spirit.

Study 1: Hypnosis and Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Insomnia (Hypnosis As Effective or Better Than Ambien)

Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Chronic Combat-Related PTSD Patients Suffering From Insomnia: A Randomised, Zolpidem-Controlled Clinical Trial

http://www.medecine.ups-tlse.fr/du_diu/fichiers/ametepe/1212/PTSD_et_Insomnie.pdf
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140802039672

Results: Those in the study given hypnotherapy had improvement in all sleep variables assessed: quality of sleep, total sleep time, number of awakenings during the night, ability to concentrate upon awakening and morning sleepiness. The hypnotherapy group had better quality of sleep, better concentration, and lower sleepiness than the group that received Zolpidem (a prescription insomnia medication sold under brand names such as Ambien). The hypnotherapy group and the group given Zolpidem had equal levels of improvement for total sleep time and number of awakenings.

Notes: This study evaluated the benefits of add-on hypnotherapy in patients with chronic PTSD who were suffering with chronic difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep, night terrors, and nightmares. Thirty-two PTSD combat veteran patients treated by SSRI antidepressants and supportive psychotherapy were randomised to 2 groups: 15 patients in the first group received Zolpidem 10 mg nightly for 14 nights, and 17 patients in the hypnotherapy group were treated by symptom-oriented hypnotherapy, twice-a-week 1.5-hour sessions for 2 weeks. The hypnotherapy included age regression where participants imagined returning to earlier periods in which normal restorative sleep was present (for example, an exhausting day of games with friends during childhood). All patients completed the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C, Beck Depression Inventory, Impact of Event Scale, and Visual Subjective Sleep Quality Questionnaire before and after treatment.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 56, Issue 3, 2008
By: Eitan Abramowitz, Yoram Borak, Irit Ben-Avit et Haim Y. Knobler, Israel Defense Forces, Mental Health Department, Israel

Study 2: Hypnosis for PTSD in Children Traumatized by Death of Close Relatives
Hypnotic Treatment of PTSD in Children Who Have Complicated Bereavement.

http://www.asch.net/portals/0/journallibrary/articles/ajch-48/iglesias.pdf

Results: Following the single session hypnosis, the mother reported significant improvements in her son’s skin with noticeable changes in itching, irritation, and swelling. The dermatologist was impressed with the child’s recent progress. According to the mother, at follow up, her daughter was feeling increasing relief from the abdominal discomfort. She was no longer debilitated by pain, which had narrowed her range of activities. Follow-up a month later was conducted by phone with the mother and she reported that both children had recovered completely from the debilitating somatisation (that is, the production of recurrent and multiple medical symptoms with no discernible organic cause) features. The children were no longer demonstrating intrusive morbid ideations of the course of their father’s death and were no longer experiencing obsessive preoccupations over the degree of terror and agony their father must have endured during the course of the traumatic events that led up to his death. The mother indicated that at this juncture both children were also able to reminisce about happy times with their father. The mother at this follow-up also reported the restart of grief in both children and assured us that her family would offer comfort for their mourning. (Note—It was suspected that the traumatisation/PTSD had been interfering with the children’s ability to complete normal grieving and move on, so this was a good sign.)

Notes: This paper reports on two cases where children were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the traumatic death of close relatives in rural Guatemala. The normal grieving process had been inhibited due to the horrific nature of these deaths and the children’s grief had become a pathological psychiatric disorder. Both children were only treated with a single session of hypnosis involving the Hypnotic Trauma Narrative (a protocol the authors developed specifically to help children deal with situations like this). There was a follow-up one week later and again after two months when the authors noted that the children’s symptoms had cleared and they were now beginning to grieve in a normal fashion.

The hypnotic induction consisted of simply asking the children to close their eyes. The following “Hypnotic Trauma Narrative” was then used: You’re old enough to know that when you look through telescope things that are far away look much closer. Important events in our lives can also be viewed as though you were looking through a telescope that brought them close to you. When you do that, you gain access to even the minutest details of the image that you are examining. At that point, you could see more than you need to see and could become stuck with certain images and unable to let them go. This can be overwhelming because the details that you seem stuck on are upsetting and hurtful. There is an alternative—you can turn the telescope around and view the same picture form the wide lens and then things can seem very, very far away. When that happens, you may not realise it, but many details of the image that you are examining get lost and are no longer available. Events that take place in life can be examined from either end of the telescope…. Now, I ask that you see yourself looking through the wide lens of a telescope at events that have taken place in your life, that need to be viewed from a less painful perspective, so that you can be well again. Look through the eye of your mind into the wide end of the telescope. This offers you the ability to see things in a far away, far away, far away space, place, and time.

By placing them far away, you’re able to see them in a more manageable fashion and elements of that image that used to upset you, are no longer so noticeable. Of course, horrible events in our lives do not simply disappear, but with the passage of time the details of the painful event get blurry, you start forgetting, and your mind makes room for current memories. Your mind is also capable of giving you a picture of yourself a week from today, a month from today, three months from today, and even a year from today…It’s fun to be able to look ahead and to get a glimpse of what our lives will be like in the future. As we now look ahead…. and I wonder if you are able to project ahead a week…. I wonder if you can move ahead a month or two or three, and I wonder if you are old enough to be able to see a year into the future. As you look ahead, no matter how far into the future, you find yourself able to accept all of the happy memories that you have not given yourself the opportunity to enjoy. As you put everything that is painful in its proper perspective, you grow and strengthen inside, as well as outside, and you become more mature and older. Also, any complaints that your body has been voicing that are no longer necessary can quietly follow in the same direction as the images that you are looking at through the wide lens of the telescope. As these complaints become a thing of the distant past, never to trouble you again, you become well and able to move ahead with the assignments that are appropriate for someone your age.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2005 Oct-2006 Jan;48(2-3):183-9
By: A. Iglesias, Virginia Commonwealth University

Study 3: Hypnosis for “Complex Trauma” PTSD (such as from childhood abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence)
Hypnosis For Complex Trauma Survivors: Four Case Studies

http://bscw.rediris.es/pub/bscw.cgi/d4438997/Poon-Hypnosis_complex_trauma_survivors.pdf

Results: Data from self-reports, observation and objective measures indicate a significant reduction in the trauma symptoms of these four subjects after hypnosis treatment.
Notes: This report describes the use of hypnosis to help four Chinese woman who were suffering from complex trauma. Two were victims of sexual abuse when they were children, the third had been raped and the fourth had been repeatedly battered by her husband. The hypnotic treatment involved three steps: “stabilisation, trauma processing, and integration.” Hypnosis was first used to help stabilise the victims. Then age regression techniques were used to help them to remember the traumatic events that led to their condition (and to begin to distance themselves from these memories). Finally, hypnosis was used to help them integrate and consolidate the gains they had made. When their treatment was finished they were all assessed by various self-reported and objective measurements. These all indicated that they experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms as a direct result of this hypnotic treatment. One key thing to note is that the researchers comment that adequate rapport and explanation about hypnosis must be provided before clients feel comfortable to use the tool, especially in survivors of childhood abuse who tend not to trust people easily.

Am J Clin Hypn. 2009 Jan;51(3):263-71
By: Maggie Wai-ling Poon, Clinical Psychologist, Social Welfare Dept. Hong Kong

Study 4: Hypnosis for PTSD in Immigrants who Escaped to America After Being Tortured, Raped and Abused
Indirect Ego-Strengthening in Treating PTSD in Immigrants from Central America.

http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1002/ch.227?locale=en

Results: This report focuses on the limitations of conventional therapy to help these individuals and it presents two ego-strengthening techniques involving indirect hypnosis that have proved helpful in treating this population.

Notes: As a result of civil war in Central America many refugees escaped to America suffering from PTSD as a result of being tortured, raped and abused.
Contemporary Hypnosis Vol. 18(3):135-144

By: G. Gafner, S. Benson, Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Tucson Arizona; Progressive Insurance Employee Assistance Program, Temple, Arizona

Please feel free to comment and discuss the findings and any experience you have had either personally with PTSD and Trauma or in treating people who are struggling with it, as I would love to hear about different experiences and view points.

The Effects of Cortisol On our Mind and Body


Depression

Over the last few months, I have been working more and more with stressed out people. I have been stunned at the age range to be honest as they have ranged from 10 – 80 years old.

I began to notice the increase early this year when many people started being made redundant in the Oil and Gas Industry in Aberdeen, where I am based. The downturn has created a huge amount of uncertainty which has lead to people feeling nervous, anxious, stressed and depressed and the knock on effects are quite significant. Many of my clients this year, on top of the initial stress have become insomniacs, they have either lost or gained large amounts of weight, have unexplained aches and pains, erratic mood swings, failed relationships…the list goes on.

This turns into a vicious circle, because the initial cause of the stress is still there and then the additional physical, mental and emotional symptoms add more stress into the mix and obviously compound the whole situation.

I have also recently started working with schools in Aberdeenshire running Stress Perception Workshops for both staff and pupils. It seems that the Curriculum for Excellence is creating and excellently high level of stress for all concerned and some pupils are becoming more and more stressed, depressed, suicidal and some resorting to self harming.

The self harming has also become something of a trend and there is a certain element of peer pressure to conform, and as you can imagine, this pressure is highly stressful for someone who really has no desire to self harm in the first place, yet in order to fit in they feel they have to run with the herd. This level of stress is extremely detrimental to the pupils ability to focus, concentrate, learn and absorb in formation and to remember it, this then adds more stress because they either feel they can’t pass they exams or they actually fail them. Pressure upon pressure upon pressure, until they break.

So after doing much reading, I have written this post today that I hope will help some of you to some degree or other and/or, perhaps help you help someone else.

STRESS
The stress hormone, cortisol, is a sneaky, insidious little bugger that creeps up on you. Even low levels over a long period of time can have hugely detrimental affects on your entire system of body and mind. Scientists have known for years that increased cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… and the list is significantly longer.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels are also responsible for an increased risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Recently two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience—especially in adolescence.

You can find research papers here:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

Our body releases cortisol through the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of our fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his findings in a short seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of this general adaption syndrome. As soon as our fight or flight alarm system signals our body to release cortisol, your body becomes mobilised and ready for action, however, there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

Eustress creates a “seize-the-day” heightened state of arousal, which is exciting, invigorating and often linked with an achievable goal. Cortisol returns to normal when we’ve completed the task. Distress, or free floating anxiety, doesn’t provide any outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology, which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers, is actually sabotaging our own bodies and minds in this sedentary, technology oriented age. So what can we do to put the pin back in this socially engineered hand grenade?

Fortunately, there are a few simple lifestyle choices you can make that will help you to reduce your stress, anxiety and lower your cortisol levels. Below are some tips to help you reduce your cortisol levels:

1. Regular Exercise: Martial arts and any martial arts based exercise classes, boxing, sparring, or a punching bag are fantastic ways to recreate the “fight” response by letting out aggression (without beating the crap out of anyone) and to reduce cortisol.
Any aerobic activity, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking etc are great ways to recreate the ‘flight’ outlet and burn-up cortisol.  A little bit of cardio goes a long way. Just 20-30 minutes of activity most days of the week pays huge dividends by lowering cortisol every day and in the long term.

I recommend a short burst of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. There are an abundance of training methods under this banner and you can find a host of them on Youtube. This gets your heart rate up high, gives minimal rest and puts your body and mind under pressure. The pay off is that your body also releases endorphins which make you feel good, so this is a form of Eustress (good stress) and is highly beneficial for you both physically and mentally.

Fear increases cortisol. Regular physical activity will decrease fear by increasing your self-confidence, resilience, and fortitude, which will reduce your cortisol levels. Yoga will have similar benefits with added benefits of mindfulness training.

If your schedule is too hectic to squeeze in a continuous exercise session, you can build up the same benefits by breaking daily activity into smaller doses. A simple way to guarantee regular activity is to build your normal routine activity into your daily exercise routine. Where possible start riding a bike to work, walking to the shops and walk at lunchtime, this also gets you out of the office and away from your desk and will get you thinking about other things instead of work. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or the lift.If you normally eat your lunch at your desk, maybe you could go to the gym at lunchtime and eat your lunch at your desk afterwards instead. All these things will add up and help you to reduce your cortisol levels throughout the day.

2. Mindfulness and Self Hypnosis: Any type of meditation will reduce anxiety and lower cortisol levels. Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the Vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure and decreases cortisol. The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response take 10 deep breaths and feel your entire body relax, calm down and slow down.

Setting aside 5-15 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or self hypnosis will develop a sense of calm throughout your nervous system, mind, and brain. There are many different types of meditation. “Meditating” doesn’t have to be a sacred or tree huggey experience. I’m often asked as to specifically what kind of meditation or self hypnosis do I use and how do I do it/use it. There are so many techniques/methods and to be honest it is best to explore and find what works for you and then refine it and make it your own. I suggest that you do more research, and fine-tune a daily meditation/self hypnosis routine that fits your schedule and personality.

3. Social Connectivity: Two studies have been published in the journal Science illustrate that social agression and isolation lead to increased levels of cortisol in mice that trigger a cascade of potential mental health problems—especially in adolescence.

Follow the link here to find theses papers and many more:
http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins established that elevated levels of cortisol in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They discovered that these changes in young adulthood, which is a crucial time for brain development, could cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it. These findings, reported in the January 2013 journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and his team set out to simulate social isolation associated with the difficult years of adolescence in human teens. They found that isolating mice known to have a genetic predisposition for mental illness during their adolescence triggered ‘abnormal behaviours’ that continued even when returned to the group. They found that the effects of adolescent isolation lasted into the equivalent of mouse adulthood.

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

“We have discovered a mechanism for how environmental factors, such as stress hormones, can affect the brain’s physiology and bring about mental illness,” says Sawa, the study leader. “We’ve shown in mice that stress in adolescence can affect the expression of a gene that codes for a key neurotransmitter related to mental function and psychiatric illness. While many genes are believed to be involved in the development of mental illness, my gut feeling is environmental factors are critically important to the process.”

To shed light on how and why some mice got better, Sawa and his team studied the link between cortisol and the release of dopamine. Sawa says the new study suggests that we need to think about better preventative care for teenagers who have mental illness in their families, including efforts to protect them from social stressors, such as neglect. Meanwhile, by understanding the flood of events that occurs when cortisol levels are elevated, researchers may be able to develop new compounds to target tough-to-treat psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects.

In another study, published on January 18, 2013 in the journal Science researchers from France revealed that mice who were subjected to aggression, by specific mice bred to be ‘bullies’ released cortisol which triggered a response that led to social aversion to all other mice. The exact cascade of neurobiological changes was complex but also involved dopamine. The researchers found that if they blocked the cortisol receptors that the ‘bullied’ mice became more resilient and no longer avoided their fellow creatures.

Close knit human bonds, whether it be family, friendship or a romantic partner, are vital for your physical and mental health at any age.  Recent studies have shown that the Vagus nerve also responds to human connectivity and physical touch to relax your parasympathetic nervous system.

The “tend-and-befriend” response is the exact opposite to “fight-or-flight”. The “tend-and-befriend” response increases oxytocin and reduces cortisol. Make an effort to spend real face-to-face time with loved ones whenever you can, however, even phone calls and Facebook can reduce cortisol if they foster a feeling of genuine connectivity.

4. Have Fun and Laugh Often: Having fun and laughing reduces cortisol levels. Dr. William Fry is an American psychiatrist who has been studying the benefits of laughter for the past 30 years and has found links to laughter and lowered levels of stress hormones. Many studies have shown the benefits of having a sense of humor, laughter and levity. Try to find ways in your daily life to laugh and joke as much as possible and you’ll lower cortisol levels. Watch your favourite comedy movie, favourite comedian or anything on Youtube for example that makes you laugh, feel good and happy, as this will begin to reduce your cortisol levels.

5. Music: Listening to Music that you love, and fits whatever mood you’re in, has been shown to lower cortisol levels. We all know the power of music to improve mood and reduce stress. Add reducing your cortisol levels as another reason to keep the music playing as a soundtrack of health and happiness in your life.

6. Quality Nutrition: What we eat and the quality of that food is important when life is good and we’re happy and content. When life throws a curve ball at you and you’re stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, it is even more important to eat high quality nutrition.

Society has change much in recent years and life and work is becoming faster paced, we often look for the quick, easy and convenient option for food which is not necessarily the best option. So, to combat this, it is beneficial for you to look at high quality nutritional supplements that help to keep the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at bay. When you feel good on the inside it makes you much more capable of dealing with the stresses of the outside world and one of the downsides of eating too much wheat, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol etc, is that it puts your body’s PH out of balance and leads you into an acidic state. When your body is too acidic it promotes the growth of unhealthy bacteria, virus, fungus etc in your gut and causes joint pain and inflammation of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Also our gut becomes unable to fully and efficiently absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, which further runs down our immune system and metabolism.

When you redress that balance and return it to a slightly alkaline state, as you can see in the image below, our bodies return to a state of equilibrium that allows our gut to absorb nutrients efficiently and effectively which means we get everything we need to stay in the optimum state of health.

PH Range

Conclusion
The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for all of us and this creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on the economy. So, if we all work individually, and together, to reduce cortisol our levels we will all benefit and we will reduce the amount of stress hormones flowing around in our society and in individual lives.

In short, when we feel socially connected, safe, and self-reliant it reduces our cortisol levels. I hope the top tips presented above will help you make lifestyle choices that reduce your own levels of stress hormone and help you to help your friends, family work colleagues and perhaps even some strangers to reduce theirs and feel happier and healthier.

References:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Stress%20and%20mental%20illness&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

http://www.sciencemag.org/search?site_area=sciencejournals&y=0&fulltext=Social%20aggression%20and%20isolation&x=0&journalcode=sci&journalcode=sigtrans&journalcode=scitransmed&submit=yes

https://bbrfoundation.org/scientific-council/akira-sawa

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable

What Are Your Biggest Challenges Right Now?


2013-11-26 21.58.54

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be designing something completely new and I’d like to ask you what you really want to change about your life.

I’d really appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to tell me what is your single biggest challenge you’re struggling with in your life right now, it would mean the world to me AND even more importantly I’ll be able to use that information to create webinars and blog posts around topics you want to know more about.

http://SimonMaryan.formstack.com/forms/simonmaryan_copy

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and thank you if you choose to take the survey as it may help a whole load of other people. How great a start to the week would that be 🙂

Have a fantastic week

Simon

Brain2Body Lifestyle Nutrition & Exercise Manual – 2nd Edition coming soon!!


brain2body-cover

I have been working on the 2nd edition of my Lifestyle Nutrition and Exercise Manual, with the main focus having been on updating the supplements section later on in the book. This now emphasises health supplementation as opposed to more sports based supplements in the 1st edition and this update is based heavily on my research into this form of supplementation.

Having health issues myself, I have wanted to find ways to enhance my bodies’ ability to recover, repair and regenerate and what I found really made me smile, and feel good. So, I am almost ready to get this new version published and I will keep you all posted when it is ready.

Thanks again to everyone who bought the 1st edition and I am confident that you will find this new edition enlightening as well.

Simon