Hypnosis is an ancient practice, but one that is now being used in modern medicine by trained hypnotherapists. Hypnotherapy may help patients with mesothelioma in a variety of ways: relaxing the mind, relieving pain, relieving side effects of chemotherapy, reducing stress and fear, and even helping patients to quit smoking. Patients can learn self-hypnosis to be able to relax as needed.
Hypnotherapy is something that can supplement cancer treatment, but it is not a treatment in itself. It has been proven in research to have positive benefits, but as with any kind of alternative medicine, if you want to try it, be sure to inform your doctor and find a trained practitioner to help you.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is practiced by trained professionals who use exercises to bring a patient to a deep state of relaxation and altered consciousness. This is sometimes referred to as a trance. This state of mind is highly focused and while a patient is in it, she may be suggestible or responsive to ideas. The hypnotherapist is not in control of the patient, a common misconception, but rather is helping the patient master her own consciousness, awareness, and physical and psychological states.
The purpose of hypnotherapy is equally important as describing what it is and how it works. The point of engaging in this type of therapy is to make positive changes, to behaviors, to physical symptoms, or to psychological and emotional states. Hypnotherapists not only bring patients into trances to make these changes, they also help patients learn how to do it themselves, so that they can reach to this tool when in pain, discomfort, or distress.
Hypnotherapy to Manage Fear, Anxiety, and Stress
Hypnotherapy can be a powerful emotional tool. It has been proven to help people relax and reduce negative emotions like fear, stress, and anxiety. This has been tested in studies with cancer patients. Several studies, for instance, found that patients using hypnosis while undergoing biopsies to determine if they had cancer experienced significantly less stress and fear during the procedure. They also had less pain after the procedure.
The same effect can be used before patients undergo other procedures, such as surgery to remove mesothelioma tumors. The stress and fear that patients experience before a procedure can be significant, but hypnotherapy reduces them and may even help the patients have less pain and recover more quickly afterward.
Pain is a big part of life for mesothelioma patients. The cancer itself causes pain, as do treatments, like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Pain relief has been proven to be a benefit of hypnotherapy in numerous studies. Specific to cancer, studies have shown that patients who received hypnotherapy before procedures that cause pain in recovery required lower amounts of pain relievers and reported less intense pain than those patients not getting hypnotherapy.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and terminal kind of cancer and many patients receiving treatment are already in advanced stages of the disease. Several studies of advanced cancer patients receiving hypnotherapy have shown that the practice reduces pain, both physical and emotional.
Relieving Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer, and specifically for mesothelioma. The drugs that are introduced to the body target all fast-growing cells, which means that they kill cancer cells along with some healthy cells. This results in some uncomfortable side effects like pain, nausea, bleeding, fatigue, and hair loss. Any alternative treatments that can bring relief helps patients better cope with and respond to chemotherapy.
Hypnotherapy has been used to relieve chemotherapy side effects for a long time and this was actually one of the first applications of hypnosis in medicine. An early study from 1982 found that hypnosis could effectively relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Many other studies followed and backed up these findings.
Fatigue is a common symptom in people with mesothelioma. It can be caused by treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, and by the cancer. A few studies have investigated how hypnotherapy affects fatigue in cancer patients, with positive results. In one study researchers looked at two groups of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. One group received hypnotherapy and the other did not. Over the course of treatment, fatigue increased steadily for the latter group. For those who got hypnotherapy, fatigue was considerably less.
Hypnotherapy May Increase Survival Time
Some research into hypnotherapy and cancer patients has concluded that it can increase the survival rates among these patients, but the idea is controversial. Some studies have found that there is no overall increase in survival time with hypnotherapy. More research needs to be done to determine if hypnotherapy could actually extend the lives of cancer patients. Whether it turns out to be true or not, there are few reasons not to try hypnotherapy and reap the other definite benefits.
Another benefit of trying hypnotherapy is that patients can learn self-hypnosis, a kind of self-regulation that patients can turn to at any time to relieve stress, pain, or other symptoms. Being able to use this tool at any time not only provides relief from symptoms, it helps to give patients with chronic and terminal illnesses a feeling of control that is otherwise lacking in their lives.
Hypnotherapy to Quit Smoking
Smoking worsens symptoms of pleural mesothelioma and also increases the risk of developing this type of cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and you smoke, quitting will help you feel better. If you know you have been exposed to asbestos, but have not been diagnosed, quitting smoking will reduce your risks of developing cancer.
Quitting smoking is hard because nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Quitting cold turkey with no support is virtually impossible. Working with support groups, therapists, and using medications may help, but it is still tough. Hypnotherapy has been shown in some studies to be an effective tool in quitting. Other studies have questioned this finding, but it certainly does not hurt to try using this strategy to quit smoking for better health.
Safety and Risks
Hypnotherapy is considered to be generally safe and low-risk. Most people have a positive experience, but there are some instances in which patients have reported negative effects, like anxiety. There is also a low risk of creating false memories while in a trance. As with other alternative treatments is important to use hypnotherapy only with the approval of your medical team. There are some people who should not use it, such as those with certain psychiatric conditions. However, for most people this is a safe type of therapy as long as it is practiced by a trained professional.
Hypnotherapy is not magic and there are many myths surrounding this alternative medicinepractice. A trained professional is someone who works like many other therapists, using skills and exercises to help people feel better and to help them regain control over their illnesses. If you are struggling with mesothelioma, there are many good reasons to try hypnotherapy, from pain relief to self-regulation of anxiety. With a trained professional, this kind of therapy has the potential to improve your quality of life.
Reprinted with permission