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Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Mesothelioma Patients

Hypnosis is an ancient practice but is now being used in western medicine to treat modern patients. Hypnotherapy may help patients with mesothelioma in a variety of ways. These ways include relaxing the mind, reducing stress, and relieving pain and side effects of chemotherapy. Hypnotherapy can even help patients quit smoking. Patients can learn self-hypnosis to use as needed.

Hypnotherapy can supplement cancer treatment but is not a treatment in itself. Proven to have many positive health benefits, hypnotherapy should be used by a trained practitioner. As with any alternative treatment, be sure to inform your doctor before using it.

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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 state is often referred to as a trance. During trance the mind is highly focused. While in this high focused state, a patient may be responsive to programmed ideas. The hypnotherapist does not control the patient, although this is a common misconception. Instead, the practitioner helps the patient master his or her own consciousness, awareness, and physical and psychological states.

The purpose of hypnotherapy may be more important than how it works. The point of this type of therapy is to make positive changes behaviors, physical symptoms, 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. This way patients can reach to this tool whenever they experience 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, but it also can reduce negative emotions like fear, stress, and anxiety. The effectiveness of hypnotherapy has been tested in studies with cancer patients. Several studies have found patients using hypnosis during biopsies experienced significantly less stress and fear during the procedure. Those patients also experienced less pain after the procedure.

The same effect is useful before other procedures, including surgery to remove mesothelioma tumors. The stress and fear patients experience before a procedure can be significant. However, hypnotherapy reduces stress and helps patients have less pain and a faster recovery.

Managing Pain

Pain is a big part of life for mesothelioma patients. The cancer causes pain, but so do standard treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Hypnotherapy can relieve pain. Several independent studies confirm this fact.  Specific to cancer, research shows patients who received hypnotherapy before painful procedures required lower amounts of pain relievers. These patients also reported less intense pain than those not receiving hypnotherapy.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and terminal cancer. Many patients receiving treatment are already in advanced stages of the disease. Several studies of advanced cancer patients receiving hypnotherapy have shown the practice reduces pain, both physical and emotional.

Relieving Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer, and specifically for mesothelioma. Drugs introduced to the body target all fast-growing cells. In other words, these substances kill cancer cells, but also kill some healthy cells at the same time. The result is uncomfortable side effects like pain, nausea, bleeding, fatigue, and hair loss. Any alternative treatments that bring relief helps patients better cope with and respond to chemotherapy.

Hypnotherapy often relieves the side effects of chemotherapy. Used of a number of years, this application was one of the first in western medicine. A 1982 study found hypnosis could effectively relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Many other studies have followed and confirmed these findings.

Reducing Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom in mesothelioma patients. Radiation and chemotherapy can cause fatigue, as can the cancer itself. Several 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 while the other did not. Over the course of treatment, fatigue increased steadily for the latter group. Those receiving hypnotherapy experienced reduced levels of fatigue.

Hypnotherapy May Increase Survival Time

Some research into hypnotherapy and cancer patients has concluded it can increase survival rates. However, this idea is controversial. Some studies have found no overall increase in survival time with hypnotherapy. More research is necessary to determine if hypnotherapy could extend the lives of cancer patients. Whether this is true or not, there are few reasons not to try hypnotherapy and reap the other definite benefits.

Learning Self-Hypnosis

Another benefit of hypnotherapy is that patients can learn self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is a kind of self-regulation patients can turn to at any time to relieve stress, pain, or other symptoms. The ability to use this tool not only provides relief from symptoms, it gives patients a feeling of control otherwise lacking in their lives.

Hypnotherapy to Quit Smoking

Smoking often worsens symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. It also increases the risk of developing this type of cancer. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you smoke, quitting can ease symptoms and 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 mesothelioma.

Because nicotine is a highly addictive substance, quitting smoking can be difficult. Quitting cold turkey with no support is virtually impossible. Working with support groups and therapists can help, as can certain medications. Research has shown hypnotherapy can be an effective tool to help you quit. Other studies have questioned this finding, but using this strategy as an aid might help lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

Safety and Risks

Hypnotherapy is generally safe and low-risk. Most people have a positive experience, however, there are instances that could cause negative effects, including anxiety. There is also a low risk of creating false memories while in a trance. As with other alternative treatments, only use hypnotherapy with the approval of your medical team. Some people, especially those with certain psychiatric conditions, should not use hypnotherapy. However, it is safe for most individuals when practiced by a trained professional.

There are many myths surrounding the use of hypnosis, however it is not “magic.”A trained hypnotherapist works like many other therapists, using skills and exercises to help people feel better and regain control over their illnesses. If you are struggling with mesothelioma, there are many good reasons to try hypnotherapy. It could help provide pain relief or help you self-regulate fear and anxiety. With a trained professional, hypnotherapy has the potential to improve your quality of life.

Page edited by Dave Foster

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Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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