Depression & Hypnosis

The Role of Hypnosis In The Cause and Cure Depression

                        by C. Devin Hastings


Covered in this article:


How Is Hypnosis Involved With Depression?

Is Hypnosis Dangerous To Depressed Persons?

General Applications of Hypnosis to Depression.

Specific Applications of Hypnosis to Depression.


What Can You Do Right Now?




(Please note you can click on any reference number and be taken immediately to the reference.)




There are two parts to this article.  The first section allows me to share information that is, for the most part, hidden by ignorance and bias. 

Ignorance in this case simply means when a person doesn't know any better.  Bias refers to those who believe they have all the knowledge and answers and therefore will not even take one moment to have an open mind to valid, documented new ideas and information.

The second part of this article discusses how a depressed person really can begin to make gradual, long-term changes for the better. 

This information is intended to be used in two ways: 


(1) It is to be used as an empowering response to depression in general and,


(2) Specifically, it can be used as a response to being constantly ambushed just when one is starting to feel better.


Again, let me stress two things:


(1) After decades of persistent and almost lethal depression, my research and efforts have yielded a life undreamed of before.  It is my passionate hope that my research can help you. 


(2) However, before using any of this information, check with your doctor.  They may know something you don't and therefore may wisely counsel against any changes.


Finally, please understand that much more could be said in this article but, my aim is to be brief while bringing valid ideas to your consideration.


With the preceding having been said, let's address a question that many of my clients have:


How Is Hypnosis Involved With Depression?


First of all, if necessary, a person has to be willing to let go of the traditional idea that the cause of depression is primarily biological. 


Please understand it is acknowledged by the author that some depression does have a purely biological basis but, this is the rare exception rather than the rule.


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Chronic, deep depression, as with any other sustained emotional state, has physiological correlates and what is being proposed here is that in the main, the emotional state of depression came first and then the neurochemical changes followed. 


"Body following mind" is commonly understood to be a true and consistent phenomenon.  What is fascinating is how much the body will follow the mind. 


For example, there is the famous case of "The Production of the So-called 'Rose Cold' by Means of an Artificial Rose" (1)This case is written by Dr. John Noland MacKenzie, a nineteenth-century Baltimore physician.  The story details how one of his patients, a 32-year old woman, experiences debilitating symptoms when exposed to a number of stimuli including the odor of hay and roses.


Her symptoms included violent coryza (watery eyes and runny nose) and severe asthma attacks accompanied by high temperatures ranging from 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  Dr. Noland, suspecting there was more than pollen at work, decided to expose his patient to a rose during one visit.  Predictably, his patient began having a severe asthma attack within 5 minutes of exposure to the rose. 


What is truly fascinating is that the rose he used was just a beautiful paper copy of the real thing.  Dr. Noland exposed his deception to his patient and, interestingly, when she returned to his office a few days later, "she buried her nostrils in a large fragrant specimen of the genuine article and inhaled its pollen" without any of the ill effects that had plagued her for over 15 years.


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The point here is that our first approach to asthma, hay fever and allergies in general is to heave an arsenal of medications at the problem but, a better answer may very well be found in the mind rather than the body.


By the way, after showing my clients a significant amount of mind-body evidence similar to the preceding, some have been tempted to immediately give up their medications and this is a big mistake. 


If you have asthma or an allergy, please continue to take your medications as prescribed until such time as you and your doctor can carefully create a program of safely discovering whether or not you can be free of the need for medications. 


The point I want to make in as strong and succinct a manner as possible, is that our minds profoundly influence our bodies.  This may seem obvious to some but the depth of this intimate communication must be crystal clear so that what follows is easier to take on as a new, emotional (vs. intellectual) belief.  Emotional beliefs have the power to change behavior; intellectual beliefs do not.  They're just ideas that sound good but don't do anything.


What caused Dr. Nolan's female patient to emotionally and physiologically react as she did?  What causes millions of other people to generate similar events?


Personal, deeply held beliefs. 


Beliefs are the driving force behind our attitudes, feelings, behaviors and physiological states.


And, what is hypnosis?  It is only and purely, a person's ability to create, modify or delete deeply held, personal beliefs. 


So, to answer the $64,000 prescription problem:  Is hypnosis involved with depression?  Unequivocally yes.  Hypnosis is involved in the cause and the cure of depression.


How?  To answer that question, let's first have a look at a few definitions of depression.  Depression is a feeling.  It is a state of being--a state of self-identity. Depression oftentimes is learned from parents who are themselves depressed to some degree or another.  Depression is a sense of certainty about reality.


All of the previous quick definitions of depression have one thing in common: Each definition reflects a belief or system of beliefs that a depressed person holds to be true. 


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Now, there are two significant ways in which hypnosis is involved in the cause of non-organic depression:


(1) The creation of a belief or belief system 



(2) The maintenance of same via hypnotic phenomena. 


Let's break these two areas down a bit.


A child starts out pretty much tabula rasa. (2)  Essentially, this means it has no inherent beliefs about itself.  Its only concern is survival. 


Survival, for a baby consists of two primary ingredients:


(1) Complete dependence upon a caregiver. 


(2) Emulation of the caregiver which has learned to somehow survive.


This emulation is a learning process.  The point here is that the child learns and will continue to learn from their caregiver, attitudes and beliefs about the world.   Herein lies the establishment of a profound belief system.  Henceforth from the founding of this belief structure, the only beliefs this child can learn easily are those that agree (in general) with their fundamental or learned beliefs.


A belief is an idea that has 'meaningful status' within a person's psyche.  Meaningful status is more likely to be granted to those beliefs that resonate with fundamental beliefs.


If a parent has ideas, beliefs and behaviors that are depressive in nature and, the child learns or emulates these characteristics (which is likely to a degree), then the child will create resonant but not necessarily identical beliefs. 


Now, if one accepts that hypnosis is a person's ability to create, modify or delete a belief or beliefs, then it should now be apparent to see how this state of mind (hypnosis or trance) is intimately involved with the formation of depression.


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Thus far we have touched upon the creation of depressive motivations via beliefs, within an individual.


Now let's have a look at how these depressive motivations are maintained by means of hypnosis or trance and then we will look at how hypnosis can also be used to restore one to a state of emotional and mental health.


There are three means by which hypnosis maintains a depression. 


The first is by filtering.  Typically, most or all ideas contrary to a depressed belief structure are filtered out of existence.   Much more could be said in this area but, it is an aim of this article is to be concise.


The second way in which a state of hypnosis maintains depression is by means of manifesting hypnotic phenomena.  Physical sensations such as aches, pains, heaviness and the like can be manifestations of hypnotic phenomena. 


The pain is real but it is based in perceptions or beliefs rather than in actual physical problems.  For a period of over 10 years, I can remember not going a single day without pain.  Good Lord was that hard after a while.  The problem of pain and depression is that a vicious cycle is perpetuated where the pain causes depression and the depression deepens the physical pain.


To some, the idea of beliefs causing chronic pain may sound like meta-physical mumbo jumbo but, a great deal of documentation clearly suggests that a person can evidence incredible physical changes merely with a suggestion.  Skin temperature can vary by significant amounts, warts can disappear (over time) via suggestion, and other quite amazing physical changes can manifest simply through belief. 


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Here's an interesting example:


     "Japanese researchers tested 57 high school boys for their sensitivity to allergens. The boys filled out questionnaires about past experiences with plants, including lacquer trees, which can cause itchy rashes much as poison oak and poison ivy do. Boys who reported having severe reactions to the poisonous trees were blindfolded. Researchers brushed one arm with leaves from a lacquer tree but told the boys they were chestnut tree leaves. The scientists stroked the other arm with chestnut tree leaves but said the foliage came from a lacquer tree. Within minutes the arm the boys believed to have been exposed to the poisonous tree began to react, turning red and developing a bumpy, itchy rash. In most cases the arm that had contact with the actual poison did not react." (4)


Another fascinating example of belief-mind-body interaction is the story of a Mr. Wright. 


     "Many doctors know the story of "Mr. Wright," who was found to have cancer and in 1957 was given only days to live. Hospitalized in Long Beach, Calif., with tumors the size of oranges, he heard that scientists had discovered a horse serum, Krebiozen, that appeared to be effective against cancer. He begged to receive it.


His physician, Dr. Philip West, finally agreed and gave Mr. Wright an injection on a Friday afternoon. The following Monday, the astonished doctor found his patient out of his "death bed," joking with the nurses. The tumors, the doctor wrote later, "had melted like snowballs on a hot stove."


Two months later, Mr. Wright read medical reports that the horse serum was a quack remedy. He suffered an immediate relapse. "Don't believe what you read in the papers," the doctor told Mr. Wright. Then he injected him with what he said was "a new super-refined double strength" version of the drug. Actually, it was water, but again, the tumor masses melted.


Mr. Wright was "the picture of health" for another two months -- until he read a definitive report stating that Krebiozen was worthless. He died two days later." (5)


The point to take away from all this so far, is that: (a) Hypnosis is the power of an individuals mind and (b) That power is intimately involved in the development and continuation of depression through a variety of means.


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Now, as mentioned, there is a third means by which hypnosis perpetuates depression and it is by.....

The Formation of Depression Activating Post-Hypnotic Suggestions.

A post-hypnotic response is a cause-effect belief program that powerfully dictates behavior. Another way to look at this is that when a specific stimulus becomes uniquely associated with a strong internal state, you have a post-hypnotic suggestion and effect. (stimulus/response)

For example, the physical lethargy and mental apathy that accompanies very high (or low) blood sugars for example, can be a contributing factor to inappropriate cause-effect belief formation.

To illustrate, let me share with you this case history: Shortly before I (CDH) was diagnosed with diabetes, my cognitive functions were significantly reduced and my affect was severely depressed.

In layman's terms this means I felt like garbage due primarily to out of control blood sugar levels that were causing me to lose my vision as well as feel awful. (What is interesting to note is that diabetes and its attendant emotional/physical affects can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years.)

Now, when a person has a strong emotional feeling, that affect state can then become associated with whatever situation and/or thoughts they are currently experiencing. I.E., uncontrolled diabetic consequences coupling with a relationship break-up, a job loss or any other stressful situation.

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These are common events but note that even a small, insignificant incident can also be implicated. This confluence of events is called an I.S.E. or Initial Sensitizing Event. (Please note that, as in the case of many phobias, some initial sensitizing events can have a profound post-hypnotic impact after only one learning event.)

The next stage in deepening the power of this erroneous belief programming occurs when a person is next exposed to the same stimuli that were initially associated with a powerful, negative state of mind.

The result? Generally, with enough repetition and enough time, feelings can become facts cognitively and physically. And then, a pseudo-depression cycle is perpetuated.

As a quick illustration imagine a large spider near your foot. Now, if you are a person who becomes upset when big, hairy spiders with lots of eyes and big fangs are near you, then your body will respond to some degree.

Now, imagine being unconsciously reminded (triggered or post-hypnotically influenced) to thinking and therefore feeling, many times a day that there is a nasty spider about to crawl up your leg. Ultimately, this could become a panic disorder that can even attach itself to unrelated objects and/or events. In fact, this is not uncommon.

Hopefully, this example will help to illustrate why I call it pseudo-depression. I do this because the belief syllogism is: "I feel depressed (like garbage) therefore there must be reasons."

And, when feelings happen, a person must make sense out of their world. So, they justify this unconscious, powerful, emotional experience with a conscious understanding that usually takes the form of inappropriate cause-effect associations. I.E., "I am feeling depressed because of my job--spouse--life--" or whatever seemingly reasonable explanation is available.

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In other words, one's feelings of depression can be in part or whole, built on erroneous beliefs or, post-hypnotic suggestions. Therefore, all a depressed person may need are the tools and coaching in order to be able to disable erroneous cause-effect belief programs.

To finalize this point, please consider a quote from Breaking The Patterns of Depression, by Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D.:

"For most people, depression is the product of a hurtful way of interpreting and responding to life experiences."

What has been covered so far is information that is reasonably sound that supports the idea that hypnosis is deeply involved with the onset and continuation of depression.

So this brings us to our next point which is.....

Is Hypnosis Dangerous To Depressed Persons?


It used to be taught that hypnosis was contra-indicated for a depressed person.  It is now becoming recognized that the exact opposite is the case except for those who are in severe and immediate risk of decompensation and/or suicide.  At this point calling 911 is a person's best answer.


With the previous caveat understood, it can then be stated that research so far indicates that hypnosis is not dangerous to a depressed person.  Given what we've covered so far it would appear to be obvious that a skilled application of hypnosis is indeed required to help a person recover from depression....permanently.


In fact, let's go one step further and consider whether or not it makes sense that if a depressed person is unaware of hypnosis, then they are in fact, in danger.  This is because a depressed person can come to greater harm because of their lack of knowledge about how their heart, mind and body are interacting in a potent and harmful manner.


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At this point, my clients then ask me how hypnosis can actually help them now that they understand they have to take a more active role in the maintenance of their mind and heart.


This brings us to....


General Applications of Hypnosis to Depression.


I tell my clients that there are several general areas in which hypnosis can help them.  These areas include but are not limited to:

--Beliefs about client's capability

--Beliefs about client's worth

--Beliefs about client's future

--Beliefs about client's parents

--Client beliefs concerning their spirituality; if any

--Client perceptions of current, personal events and their impact on client


And many more are covered.  However, this is a discussion that is far beyond the scope of this article.  The point is that a thread must be found and followed to where the old, harmful beliefs can be nullified.  At the same time a client must also be guided to taking pro-active steps now to changing their situation. 


Learned helplessness (6)  is an ally of depression.  Interesting how the expression 'learned helplessness' in fact describes the 'hypnosis' of depression.


While reversing learned helplessness is an art and science that cannot be taught in an article there are several hypnotic interventions that can provide almost immediate help.


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Specific Applications of Hypnosis to Depression.


Almost all depressed people tend to suffer from one or more of the following:


--Chronic pain




--Lack of confidence


--Anger (esp. passively angry)

--Lack of knowledge about depression and what to do

--Poor or non-existent exercise



Sometimes baby steps are the best steps to take on one's path to health.  There are occasions where I recommend no treatment yet for my clients because I think they would benefit from taking easy steps.


One example might be simply improving one's sleep.  Very often this can make a tremendous difference in a person's outlook on life.  


Other depressed clients may simply be so stressed out from their life/job/relationship that they need to start somewhere before getting into the bigger 'stuff'. 


For these people I suggest a low-cost answer in the form of a self-hypnosis CD.  Also, quite frankly, it shows me their commitment to change.  If they get the CD and then 3 weeks later call for an appointment but, they tell me they haven't listened to the CD I then have to wonder how much they want to get better. 


Each situation is unique but, there have been times when I have chosen to save my client's money by not seeing them until they took some kind of step in the right direction.  An easy step is listening to self-hypnosis CDs for healing in one of the above mentioned areas.


By the way, you don't have to buy any of the above CDs.  There are many other safe ways for a person to get better sleep, quit smoking and so on.   Just please make sure that you address at least one of the above areas.  My personal favorite is sleep.  Imagine a month where somehow you have slept better than you have in years.  Your stress levels go down; less need for cigarettes; less cravings for foods that do not serve your happiness, etc...


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This article has come from the heart.  There is so much more information but this web page would probably be about 100 yards in length.


There were 4 distinct purposes to this article:


(1) To give you a new perspective on healing depression.


(2) To give you a deep look at this perspective and its relevancy.


(3) To give you ideas on what you can do to begin changing your life now.


(4) To give you hope because there really is a different world waiting for you.


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What Can You Do Right Now?


When I was going blind from diabetes and entering a deeper depression as a result, there were two things that greatly helped me:


1) A resolve to find an answer.  And, by the way, I did not really feel like doing anything either.  I just knew something had to change and I figured I was probably the only one to find an answer that best fit me.


2) Therefore, I learned as much as I could.  Keeping busy kept the dogs of depression from nipping at my emotional Achilles' heel. 


As a result of the doing what I could, I kept the depression from spiraling out of control (as it had before) and I found myself surprisingly motivated.  Not much but it was enough to keep me going.


I discussed everything I learned with my doctor and it was funny but I felt like we were partners in my search for wellness rather than me being a helpless victim of "I wish my doctor cared enough to save me" syndrome. 


By the way, this syndrome?  It belongs to those of us who wish(ed) our parents would (have) save(d) us and what sucks is that it gets inappropriately assigned to our doctors.


This sucks because it's unfair to our doctors (they are not our parents) and it is an abdication of personal responsibility which just makes it harder to recover.


The good thing about this syndrome is that it is a sign post pointing out  unresolved issues that, once taken care of, can bring us closer to wellness and happiness.


So, to finalize this brief section, what can you do right now?


1) Resolve to do the best you can to find an answer.


2) Learn what you can and then discuss it with your doctor.  More options means more ways out of the quicksand of depression.


Below is something that might help you.


Never give up.  


C. Devin Hastings

"Speak gently to yourself because your deep mind is always listening."


Depression and Hypnosis:
Tranceformation Information—6 CDs

(Click thumbnail picture to enlarge. Remember to use your 'Back' button or arrow to return.)


Description Excerpt:  "I want to start with a very personal note before letting you know how much nifty information you're getting.

For many years I suffered from massive depression and it has been a long journey to a place that many take for granted but that many more can't even conceive of. This place? Normalcy.

In this case normal means 4 things: The first is that Life doesn't hurt most or all of the time. The second incredible change in my life is that my life now has many contented, satisfied, challenging, painful, good and beautiful moments all of which are unbelievably precious.

Part of my self-healing journey is that I learned how to string these moments together in a necklace of growing happiness that I wear lightly around my soul.

Some people would call this normal. I call it a miracle because at one point in my life not only did I not have a clue as to how to be happy, I was afraid to be happy. It was too great a risk.

And this brings me to the third thing that a depressed person can look forward to on their fantastic journey out of depression---not being afraid to live."


Click here to learn more:




Click on reference number to return to referenced text.


(1) The Healer Within by Stephen Locke, M.D. and Douglas Colligan.  Pg. 131


(2) Of course there are some genetic tendencies but, with the advent of the science of neurogenesis (3), specifically concerning the work of Ernest Rossi, Ph.D., it is becoming understood that initially unexpressed but present genes, for the most part have more to do with possibilities than certainties.


(3) Adult brain neurogenesis and psychiatry:a novel theory of depression  byJacobs BL, Praag H, Gage FH--Program in Neuroscience, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010, USA. Mol Psychiatry 2000 May; 5(3):262-269

(4) Morse, Gardiner. 1999. "The Nocebo Effect - Scattered studies suggest that negative thinking can harm patients’ health," Hippocrates, November, Vol. 13, No. 10.


 (5) Placebos Prove So Powerful Even Experts Are Surprised; New Studies Explore the Brain's Triumph Over Reality---The New York Times
October 13, 1998--By Sandra Blakeslee


 (6) In early 1965, Martin E. P. Seligman and his colleagues, while studying the relationship between fear and learning, accidentally discovered an unexpected phenomenon while doing experiments on dogs using Pavlovian conditioning. In Seligman's experiment, instead of pairing the tone with food, he paired it with a harmless shock, restraining the dog in a hammock during the learning phase. The idea, then, was that after the dog learned this, the dog would feel fear on the presentation of a tone, and would then run away or do some other behavior.

Next, they put the conditioned dog into a shuttle box, which consists of a low fence dividing the box into two compartments. The dog can easily see over the fence, and jump over if it wishes. So they rang the bell.


Surprisingly, nothing happened! (They were expecting the dog to jump over the fence.) Then, they decided to shock the conditioned dog, and again nothing happened! The dog just pathetically laid there! Hey, what's going!


When they put a normal dog into the shuttlebox, who never experienced inescapable shock, the dog, as expected, immediately jumped over the fence to the other side. Apparently, what the conditioned dog learned in the hammock, was that trying to escape from the shocks is futile. The dog had learned to be helpless.

The theory of learned helplessness was then extended to human behavior, providing a model for explaining
depression, a state characterized by a lack of affect and feeling. Depressed people became that way because they learned to be helpless. Depressed people learned that whatever they did, is futile.


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Exciting News!  Self-Compassion is a powerful and effective means of improving one's outlook on life.  Learn more about Self-Compassion by clicking here


Date of last update: March 9, 2011


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