By Sheila Menon
Everyone can expect to suffer from depression at least once in their lifetimes. This global problem affects 20 million people in the US and an estimated 40% of Malaysians.
Even the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) concurs that there has been a visible increase in the number of work-related depression cases. The problem is growing and by 2030 depression is expected to become one of the most debilitating illnesses, causing loss of income, loss of workdays to the job industry and increased expenditure to healthcare providers and patients.
Depression is often contagious resulting in families and friends being dragged into feelings of misery, helplessness and low self-esteem.
There are two ways of tackling the problem. The first is by providing better education and coping skills so that people are more resilient or inoculated against the disease. The other is through effective psychotherapy, including clinical hypnotherapy to treat people with this illness.
There are three primary causes of depression; biological, psychological and social. Biological components may sometimes need medication. But increasingly, the therapeutic relationship between patient and therapist is considered important.
In fact talking therapies which include clinical hypnosis are considered a first treatment option for mild and moderate depression. Clinical hypnosis is an ideal rapport-based treatment, and research also indicates that hypnosis itself can specifically target the symptoms of depression and reverse their effect.
Clinical hypnosis to help employees cope with stress
This year the World Health Organisation launched a one-year awareness campaign and the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH Asia) has expanded its training to provide future therapists with the skills and tools to help both individuals and organisations deal with depression.
This stems from the growing belief that consultants will be required to provide specialist training to the industry. These consultants will help employees acquire the skills to cope with the negative impact of stress and other psycho-social contributors which may lead to future depression.
In short, clinical hypnosis just may be the career of the future, establishing a new group of professionals who are equipped to provide preventative training for groups as well as therapeutic treatment for patients.
Asian culture often avoids conversation about emotions, which means that Malaysians are sometimes reluctant about reporting depression. They may worry about being labeled as crazy, or considered weak or lazy.
People with depression can find it very hurtful to be told to snap out of it or buck up. The clinical hypnotherapist therefore has an important role to play and research shows that 90% of people can recover from depression with the right support and help.
Growing acceptance of clinical hypnotherapy in Malaysia
In Malaysia, the legislation governing Allied Healthcare and Complementary Medicine professionals means that more people are open to visiting clinical hypnotherapists.
In the Klang Valley alone, 40% of patients welcome the opportunity to see alternative therapists. An increased number of medical professionals offer clinical hypnosis as an adjunct to mainstream treatment and clinical hypnosis is also available in a growing number of hospitals.
One of the reasons for the popularity of clinical hypnosis is that it treats the biological, psychological and social aspects of the disease. This means it can provide relief for the associated symptoms of insomnia and physical discomfort as well as the mental anguish, intrusive negative thoughts and low self-esteem common to depression.
Clinical hypnotherapy has the additional benefit of combining well with all other forms of psychotherapy and is shown to enhance the efficacy of other therapy because clinical hypnosis works with both the conscious (analytical mind) and the unconscious (emotions).
Clinical hypnosis is part of a new approach to medicine and healthcare known as integrative medicine, which is expected to put the heart back into medicine.
Symptoms of depression
Common symptoms are prolonged loss of pleasure, fixation on sad thoughts, tearfulness, thoughts of self-harm, general loss of interest, low self-esteem.
The common symptoms across all cultures is insomnia. For more information contact your medical doctor or contact the LCCH.
Sheila Menon is Principal of the London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH Asia). You can visit the www.lcch.asia website; email [email protected]; or call 03-7960-6439 for more information.
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