side effects of hypnosis | side effects of medicines | wellbeing blog

5 Side Effects of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a special state of your mind. In hypnosis, the mind is relaxed and shows exceptional focus. In hypnosis, your mind is highly suggestible and changes fast. Due to this, hypnosis makes therapies exceptionally effective.

But what are the side effects of hypnosis? And let’s compare those to the side effects of most used medicines.

General Recommendations

The renowned Mayo Clinic recommends hypnosis as a safe, complementary, alternative medical treatment.

Choosing a trained and certified therapist or health care professional is crucial.

Certification ensures that the hypnotist is appropriately trained, possesses the required knowledge, and continues professional education. I am certified by The International Association of Counselors and Therapists, which also guarantees that certified therapists uphold the Code of Ethics.

However, hypnosis is not always appropriate for people with severe mental illness.

Side Effects of Hypnosis

According to the Mayo Clinic article about hypnosis, adverse reactions or side effects of hypnosis are rare. They may include:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety or distress
  • Creation of false memories

Let’s look at those in more detail.

Headache after Hypnosis

Causes of headaches | headaches as side effect | nervous system disorder | wellbeing blog

The leading causes of headaches are lifestyle factors and can be avoided:

  • Alcohol
  • Certain foods
  • Changes in sleep or lack of sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Skipped meals
  • Stress

Headaches can also be caused by disorders. World Health Organisation states that headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system.

Migraine, tension-type headaches (TTH), and medication-overuse headaches are responsible for high population levels of disability and illness.

Migraine alone is the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability. Headache disorders combined are the third highest.

Headaches as a side effect of hypnosis can happen due to experienced emotions and the intensity of the process, especially if the client tends to have headaches. They neither last long nor repeat.

At the same time, multiple studies have shown that hypnotherapy can effectively reduce both short- and long-term headaches.

Dizziness and Drowsiness after Hypnosis

The most common causes of drowsiness are sleep deprivation and sleep disorders like apnea and insomnia. Other causes of drowsiness are:

  • depression and other psychiatric problems
  • certain medications
  • and medical conditions affecting the brain and body.
Hypnosis | drowsiness 
| sleepiness | sleeping cat | wellbeing blog

Dizziness can have many possible reasons, such as:

  • inner ear disturbance
  • motion sickness
  • medication effects
  • underlying health conditions, like poor circulation, infection, or injury.

In hypnosis, the mind is relaxed, and the slower brain activity resembles the transition into sleep or from sleep to waking.

During a hypnotherapy session, the client may even fall asleep. This happens when the client is no longer actively engaged in the process but listens to the therapist’s positive suggestions spoken in a calm tone.

At the end of the hypnotherapy session, a competent therapist brings the client back from the relaxed state to the normal state of awareness. So, the client should usually not experience any dizziness or drowsiness after the session.

Creation of False Memories under Hypnosis

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Your memories are based on your sensory perception of events in your life.

But your brain filters out only the most significant signals.

Only an insignificant part reaches your consciousness from all the available sensory information you can perceive.

And even those signals you will see in the light of your life experiences and belief system. So, in the end, we perceive a very individual reflection of reality.

This is often observed in crime investigations when witnesses report different or contradictory stories.

And even entirely false memories exist. So-called “implantation studies” showed that about 30% of participants form false memories. And you won’t need any hypnosis to make someone remember what has never happened.

Watch the following video to gain an understanding of the difference between reality and personal perception:

So, in hypnotherapy, the concern is not about “Is that the way it was?”. As Gil Boyne explains in his book “Transforming Therapy. A New Approach to Hypnotherapy”: “Whatever they (clients) report is truth for them, and that’s what must be dealt with therapeutically.”

While dealing with the existing memories, a skilled hypnotherapist makes sure not to implant any (new) false memories, for example, about sexual or physical abuse. Such memories would be harmful to the client. False memories can be easily avoided by not interpreting the client’s words and not making corresponding suggestions.

Distress During Hypnosis

Even if you remember specific events from your past, in hypnosis, you access the memories on a deeper, emotional level.

Most clients who choose hypnotherapy are aware of hurtful or traumatic events in their past. Accessing the memories from those times in hypnosis can be very emotional, but this also holds a vast healing potential.

Suppression of negative emotions about traumatic events in the past can be the reason for serious psychological issues causing continuous high-level distress. Hypnosis is a very effective treatment for anxiety.

Already in World War I and II, hypnotherapy had been offering fast improvements in treating the war fatigue of the soldiers. This was done by accessing and experiencing emotional memories of the traumatic war events.
Soldiers were not able to process these emotions on the battlefield and experienced severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Through the processing of suppressed emotions under hypnosis, soldiers experienced relief from PTSD symptoms.

A competent hypnotherapist creates a safe environment and takes care of you during the whole hypnotherapy session. After an intense session of Transformational Hypnotherapy, a client may feel tired but also experience a huge emotional relief.

Let’s Compare with Medicines

The Most Sold Prescription Medicine

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In 2015-2019, Humira (generic name Adalimumab), the most-sold prescription medicine in the US, grew from $10.1 to 21.4 billion in sales.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, it moved to third place worldwide, preceded by COVID-19 vaccines.

Adalimumab is used to reduce inflammation by acting on the immune system. It treats conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Common side effects of Adalimumab that happen in more than 1 in 10 people are:

  • pain, swelling, redness, or itchy skin where your injection was given
  • a mild nose, throat, or sinus infection
  • a headache
  • stomach pains, feeling or being sick
  • a rash
  • muscle or bone pains

Besides the common side effects, medicines also cause less common, so-called serious side effects and allergic reactions that happen in less than 1 in 100 people.

These side effects might be experienced up to 4 months after you stop taking adalimumab.

Popular non-prescription medicine

Common side effects of Aspirin, as a commonly used medicine and frequently advised by medical specialists, include:

  • rash, gastrointestinal ulcerations, abdominal pain, upset stomach, heartburn, drowsiness, headache, cramping, nausea, gastritis, and bleeding.

FAQ: Side Effects of Hypnosis

Can hypnosis damage your brain?

No, hypnosis is a natural state of your brain – relaxed yet alert and focused.
You naturally enter such a state just before you fall asleep and after you wake up but aren’t fully awake yet.

Does hypnosis have long-term effects?

Yes, the state of hypnosis activates the ability of your brain to change – neuroplasticity. Therapies use the state of hypnosis and enhanced neuroplasticity to achieve fast positive shifts in thinking and behavior. These positive changes are long-term due to changes in the brain.

Conclusions

  • Hypnosis is a safe treatment
  • Side effects of hypnosis are rare, mild, and short-lived
  • The positive and fast results of hypnotherapy overweight significantly the rare and mild negative effects
  • It is highly advisable to spend some quiet time after a longer hypnotherapy session to rest
  • Side effects of hypnosis are insignificant compared to those of the most used medicines

Please share in the comments below what was your personal experience of hypnosis.

References

  • Otgaar H, Howe ML, Patihis L. What science tells us about false and repressed memories. Memory. 2022 Jan;30(1):16-21. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2020.1870699. Epub 2021 Jan 12. PMID: 33435830.
  • Smith, G. Elliot., Pear, T. H. (1918). Shell shock and its lessons. 2d ed. Manchester: University press.
  • Brown, W. (1923) Clinical: William Brown. Psychopathology and Dissociation. British Medical Journal, Vol. I, 1920, p. 139 et seq.. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 4:335

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