Hypnosis For Postpartum Depression?

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hypnotherapyThere are a variety of different therapies for anxiety and depression, including postpartum depression. Cristi Comes decided to try hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, to help deal with a past trauma, and today she’s sharing her experience with us. 

Hypnosis: A funny show in Vegas or a legitimate mental health therapy?

What do you think?

I can tell you for me it was a life saver … literally.

I was in the midst of a terrible emotional breakdown. I was hurting myself. I was suicidal. I was suffering from major depression and post-traumatic stress from a date rape in college years before. I had blamed myself and just couldn’t let go. It got so bad that I took leave from my job and started intensive therapy several times a week.

I found this amazing new therapist—Chloe—on the recommendation of a good friend. And I’m so very thankful I found her.

She suggested I try hypnotherapy, in other words hypnosis, to heal from my past trauma. And I was so lost and suffering, I decided to give it a try.

Chloe led me through a series of simple mental relaxation exercises. It was really quite easy. I just focused on the sounds around me, for example, and let my brain relax. Once I was in a deep state of relaxation she led me through my traumatic event, the date rape.

It actually felt like I was reliving it. Moment to moment she helped me “walk through” the events that led up to my rape. It was scary and difficult to experience again, but this incredible thing happened this time. For the first time in almost 10 years I truly saw what had happened to me. Not what I mistakenly felt I did to myself. Not something I thought I could have avoided if I had just made different choices. I saw what REALLY happened TO ME.

It was planned and premeditated. And damn it, NOT MY FAULT.

Now you may be asking, how does this relate to your mental health postpartum? Well, for those of us who have suffered from postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD or psychosis, there are so many moments I know I wish I could forgive myself for, and forget.

Those moments of rage or the intrusive thoughts of hurting yourself or your child can really stick with you. They are your own traumatic events.

I hope you’re finding the help you need to get through the pain, to heal from postpartum depression. There are so many therapies and medications that are so wonderful to help bring YOU back to you and your family. And I believe that hypnotherapy can one of them.

Often misunderstood.

Often not used or suggested.

But when used properly, by a licensed professional, hypnosis can in my experience do amazing things. To help you forgive yourself and truly SEE that your illness, your feelings and your behaviors are NOT YOUR FAULT.

When I was pregnant, one of my favorite sources of information was from the book, The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. So in thinking about hypnosis for mental health, I went back to Mayo to see what they have to say. (Seems like a trusted source to me.) And since I’m in no way a medical professional, I thought it might be helpful to hear from the experts.

From MayoClinic.org:

“Hypnosis, also called hypnotherapy, is considered a type of complementary medicine. During hypnosis, a qualified specialist helps you enter a trance-like state of deeply focused concentration. You may have experienced a similar state of awareness in your daily life, such as becoming so absorbed in a book that you fail to hear someone talking to you. Your free will remains intact and you don’t lose control over your behavior.

Hypnosis may help you become deeply relaxed and leave your unconscious mind open to suggestions that can help improve your health. Hypnosis may be suggested for dealing with a variety of conditions, ranging from pain control to coping with chemotherapy.

…(We) recognize that many complementary and alternative medicine treatments such as hypnosis can help promote physical, mental and spiritual wellness … Mayo Clinic offers hypnosis as a psychological and medical therapy to help relieve symptoms of many diseases and conditions, such as stress, anxiety, insomnia or pain. Hypnosis can also reduce anxiety before a procedure or surgery.”

Have you ever tried hypnotherapy? Has it been helpful for you?

~ Cristi Comes (@MotherUnadorned)
Wife. Mom. Advocate for mental health & suicide prevention. Attachment parent. Survivor of mental illness & PPD. Motherhood Unadorned Blog is motherhood naked, plain & uncensored. 

Editor’s Note: 

There’s not much research that I can find on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for mothers with postpartum depression. There is however, some data on its effectiveness in the treatment of depression. Most of the information I can find at this point considers hypnosis as an adjunctive therapy, meaning it’s not the primary treatment method but an additional method of treatment that helps in recovery.

Photo credit:  © Sergej Razvodovskij – Fotolia.com

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. I am extremely phobic about needles, and while pregnant, I went to hypnotherapy to try to at least not completely panic and pass out every time someone even suggested a blood draw. It sort of worked. I made it through the glucose test (barely – I was a ball of panic for an hour, but I didn’t run screaming) with a nurse who was aware of my phobia and helped make it easier. Then I had to have blood drawn at a lab to test for pre-e and the lab tech was not sympathetic and made things worse. I’m now back to not letting anyone near me with a needle. So I think it may work to some extent, and for some people, but not for me – at least not long term.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Laura. As with all PPD treatments — whether standard or alternative — different things work for different people. We appreciate your perspective.

      • Yes absolutely, everyone is different. I’m glad it helped you at least a little Laura. I have a bit of a needle phobia myself and I know its not fun at all.

        • I have thought about going back and seeing if longer term hypnotherapy could help, but it’s rather expensive here (~ $160/appointment and not covered by insurance), and I’ve gotten really good at avoiding the needles, so it’s not high on my priority list :)

  2. Hi Cristi – Wonderful sharing about a helpful intervention/technique that is not talked about much in PPD circles. There are many mindbody techniques that engage the imagistic/right brain aspects of the self, such as Interactive Guided Imagery and EMDR which complement traditional talk therapy so well, and help with healing on different levels. And of course, different techniques resonate with different people, respect for the individual at all times is the priority. I use interactive guided imagery for pain management during birthing and for medical procedures (such as breast biopsies) and EMDR for healing from trauma and for strengthening a person’s inner resources. Thank you so much for bringing this type of mindbody modalities to light in the PPD world! It was a lovely post, take care, Kathy

  3. I wish I had thought to try hypnotherapy during my PPD. I have a seriously awful phobia of snakes and have toyed with the idea of trying hypnosis. Hearing your experience makes me even more inclined to it.

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