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Hypnosis is a powerful psychological method to help individuals focus their attention and access their subconscious resources in order to facilitate positive change. In recent years, hypnosis therapies have gained traction for treating a wide range of cognitive issues, including, but not limited to, mental health disorders, anxiety, depression, addiction, chronic pain, and even physical ailments. Hypnosis in the therapeutic setting can be defined as a natural process of focusing attention and heightened perception of inner thinking and sensation, characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to positive suggestions.

Hypnosis allows one to direct his or her attention with greater focus toward a goal by an increased ability to filter out distractions. Dr. Daniel Nightingale (2019) posits that the suggestion of deep relaxation elicited during hypnosis in the therapeutic setting likely leads to an increase in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Patients with dementia have lowered production of this essential brain chemical. In a 2021 meta-study (a review of published studies) researchers determined the following: “Thanks to the highly relaxed state, and inner concentration and focused attention achieved through hypnosis, patients with dementia may experience more cognitive stimulation and less chonic pain . . . improve sleep, and/or alleviate some symptoms of depression or anxiety.” (Wawrziczny, et. al 2021)

The benefits of hypnosis for cognitive health are felt on both a physical and psychological level:

  1. Hypnosis enhances mental clarity and focus

Hypnosis is a powerful tool that has been found to enhance mental clarity and focus, making it an effective method for improving cognitive health. Research shows that hypnosis can help prevent dementia by reducing stress levels, improving memory retention and recall, and increasing overall mental functioning. One key benefit of hypnosis is that it allows individuals to access and utilize unconscious perceptions and models of thinking, which can lead to a wealth of insights. By tapping into this resource, individuals can improve their ability to focus, concentrate, and retain information, ultimately leading to better cognitive health. As a preventative measure, hypnosis can help delay the onset of dementia and other age-related cognitive decline, making it an excellent tool for those looking to maintain their mental faculties.

  1. Provides cognitive stimulation for dementia prevention

Hypnosis has been shown to provide cognitive stimulation, making it an effective tool for cognitive health. As dementia and other cognitive disorders become more prevalent, prevention is necessary to keep our minds healthy as we age. Hypnosis offers one such prevention benefit, helping to stimulate brain activity and increase overall cognitive function. Hypnosis can provide a method for nourishing the mind and strengthening the capacities of focus, recall, and sustained attention, and thus is a powerful tool for those looking to maintain cognitive health and prevent potential cognitive decline in the future.

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Hypnosis has gained popularity in recent years as an effective practice for reducing stress and anxiety, which are two of the most widespread cognitive health concerns complicating symptoms of MCI and dementia. Research has shown that hypnosis can benefit the mind by promoting a state of relaxation and facilitating better coping strategies during stressful events. Therefore, hypnosis can be a key component for dementia prevention through its ability to reduce anxiety which is believed to be a contributing factor to cognitive decline. In fact, hypnosis is now regarded as a valuable preventive measure against the symptoms of dementia in those diagnosed by their physician with Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD).

  1. Improves outlook and reduces chronic pain

Hypnosis is an effective practice for preserving cognitive health with a range of benefits that go beyond reducing stress and anxiety. Two other advantageous effects of hypnosis are its ability through hypnotic suggestion to improve outlook while reducing chronic pain. Hypnosis is a therapeutic process that involves guiding the mind into a deep state of relaxation and inner focus. This process can help alleviate chronic pain by removing the emotional burdens heaped upon the pain by stress or anxiety. Additionally, we can point out that many people have the experience of being bedridden during the recovery from an illness, picking up a book or turning on a movie, and having it absorb their attention to the point they become no longer aware of the pain or other symptoms. Hypnosis can offer the conscious direction away from the awareness of the pain in much the same way, yet throughout one’s day. By reducing one’s conscious awareness of pain leading one to focus upon the pain less and less, hypnosis can benefit cognitive function, particularly for sustained attention to a task and working memory.

  1. Supports better emotional regulation

Hypnosis has been increasingly recognized for promoting cognitive health, including dementia prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s symptoms, by supporting better emotional regulation. This involves helping individuals to effectively manage and regulate their emotions in response to external stimuli, which can have long-term positive effects on their mental health and cognitive functioning. Studies have suggested that hypnosis can improve one’s ability to manage anger, anxiety, depression, stress, and impulses, all of which can lead to more stable and balanced emotional regulation. By training the patient to become aware of his or her own emotional state, and redirecting thoughts toward more helpful and calmer perspectives, hypnosis can help individuals develop a more positive outlook on life, reduce negative thoughts and worries, and promote a greater sense of well-being. Emotional regulation can help individuals maintain a healthy mind, and potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life.

Hypnosis can be most beneficial through the use of a wide range of therapeutic techniques that are facilitated by the focused attention in hypnosis include deep relaxation, visualization, emotional regulation, and positive suggestion. These help to manage stress and anxiety, reduce perception of pain, foster a more positive outlook, and even improve memory and concentration. Studies have shown that hypnosis can aid in the treatment of various cognitive disorders including age-associated cognitive impairment. While further research is needed to fully understand the extent of hypnosis’ benefits, it’s clear that it has a valuable place in the world of cognitive health.

Works cited:
Wawrziczny, E., Buquet, A. Picard, S. (2021) Use of hypnosis in the field of dementia: A scoping review. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Vol. 96

Nightingale, D. (2019) A Clinician’s Guide to Non-Pharmacological Dementia Therapies. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK & Philadelphia, PA, USA

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