Hypnosis has a reputation of being a form of “hippie magic” and many people just can’t take the idea of hypnosis as a medical therapy seriously. But the results of hypnosis can be seriously helpful for people experiencing chronic or serious pain. Humans have been using hypnosis as pain management since as early as the 1800s. Hypnosis therapy is currently used to help cancer patients manage chemotherapy symptoms and sufferers of severe anxiety and PTSD manage panic attacks. Women in labor even rely on hypnotherapy to help them manage contractions and have an unmedicated labor. If hypnosis can help so many people in pain, can it help those of us dealing with severe migraine headache?
Hypnosis for Migraines
Research scientists have been studying the affects of hypnotherapy on pain since the 1970s. Since that time, research has indicated that hypnosis can help migraine sufferers manage their pain symptoms. Because many migraineurs experience aura (also called prodrome) or other indications that they will soon experience a migraine, hypnosis can be an especially appropriate form of treatment. When patients can achieve the hypnotized state before the migraine occurs, pain can be significantly reduced.
What is Hypnosis?
It’s not really like what you see in the movies. When you visit a hypnotherapist, he or she will counsel you on ways to concentrate and focus so that you can use the power of your mind to overcome physical sensations. Hypnotherapy utilizes your imagination to help you create mental imagery that can help you cope with whatever challenging physical sensations you are experiencing.
While hypnosis can help you manage the pain of a migraine headache, it may also help you prevent the triggers that cause your migraines. If your migraines are stress related, your hypnotherapist may be able to help you focus during times of stress so that these stressful experiences do not cascade until they cause a migraine. If lack of sleep or diet are your migraine triggers, hypnosis may be able to encourage you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent the onset of migraines.
Should I Try Hypnosis for Migraines?
First, you’ll want to talk to your doctor or headache specialist about trying hypnosis. There aren’t any real risks to hypnosis, so if you are interesting in trying it out, it’s unlikely to cause any interruption in your migraine treatment plan. Hypnosis for migraine is generally cost effective, especially when you consider the cost of migraine medication, but it is usually not covered by insurance so it may be cost prohibitive for some people.
Kukuruzovic, R. (2004). Hypnosis in the treatment of migraine. Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, 32(1), 53-61.