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Could Hypnotherapy Put an End to Your Clinical Depression? The effectiveness of hypnosis to treat mental disorders reaches the highest level of efficacy when it is utilized following a known trauma. While this can be a physical trauma such as sexual abuse, it also applies to long-term psychological trauma, ranging from verbal abuse to stress following an intensely unpleasant circumstance such as might be experienced by a soldier during war. Indeed, the patient suffering from depression need not necessarily be the victim of abuse, but the perpetrator. In addition, when dealing with suspected psychological trauma that has been repressed, hypnosis is often, and controversially, used to retrieve forgotten memories. One theory of depression treatment centers on the effect of releasing endorphins, the chemical that prompts, among other thing, the so-called runner’s high. Endorphin release typically results in a person experiencing a heightened sense of positive emotions; in certain cases people report feeling euphoric. One method of hypnotherapy is to give a verbal suggestion to the patient that are designed to release these endorphins. Contraindications related to hypnotherapy are primarily related to concerns about the efficacy of treatment. Despite the fact that most people are believed to have a high enough level of hypnotisability, it has been estimated that up to 40% of patients are not sufficiently susceptible to suggestion to make hypnosis a worthwhile treatment. Another concern is that many subjects have been urged toward hypnosis by family members or friends and do not really desire to undergo the kind of behavioral changes that may be suggested or desired by others. Finally, there is a contraindication specifically related to manic-depression. Hypnosis is generally discouraged as a treatment to those suffering manic-depressive episodes due to the tendency of the unstable variabilities of these individuals regarding the formation of interpersonal relationships. The primary concern has to do with the idealistic expectations of the manic-depressive and the potential for irreparable damage to the bond with his therapist should the hypnotherapy fail to fulfill the patient’s already high expectations. Resistance to hypnosis as a viable therapy technique to deal with clinical depression remains high. Not only is there resistance on the basis of not knowing exactly how it works, there is resistance due to the fact that suggestibility carries with the threat of altering the basic character of a patient by tampering not only with the cause and effect of his depression, but also unwittingly altering other natural aspects of his personality. There even remains significant debate over the actual role of the therapist with some arguing that any hypnotic state is actually self-induced, such as when one begins to drift off during a boring conversation or a relaxing environment. Taken from this perspective, the therapist acts merely as a kind of guide after the hypnotic state has been achieved. In this view, the hypnotist is only a guide who facilitates the process. And yet, medical technology has revealed that brain activity does change as a result of hypnosis. Electroencephalographs (EEGs) that measure electrical activity taking place within the brain reveal that the rhythms of brain waves undergo significant change dependent upon the mental state of the subject. EEGs that have been taken of patient while under the effect of hypnosis demonstrated a rise in those brain wave of a lesser frequency that are related to sleeping state, while revealing a reduction in the high frequency waves experienced during normal consciousness. Brain waves alone are not enough to suggest that hypnosis actually affects change, but the evidence certainly indicates that something is taking place. The fact that nobody really knows what that something is only serves to raise more questions about the reliability of hypnosis as a means of treating depression.