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Grief or something else? Is hypnosis a legitimate therapy?

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March 1st, 2016

Q. It’s been over a year since her sister died, but my wife still seems sad. She doesn’t go out of the house very much, and is tired all the time. Is she still grieving or is this something more serious?

A. Everyone has a different way of dealing with grief, and depending on the person, it can take different lengths of time to resolve. Nevertheless, people typically adjust to the death of a loved one and return to their normal activities within a few weeks or months. Because it seems as if your wife has been showing significant signs of sadness for a long time, she should see her doctor as soon as possible. She might have a health condition (such as thyroid disease or a vitamin B12 deficiency) that could be contributing to her symptoms, or she may be clinically depressed. Along with the symptoms you mention, other signs of depression include anxiety, irritability, appetite disturbances, persistent aches and pains, or difficulty concentrating. There are effective treatments available, which may include medication and/or counseling from a mental health professional. Some people also benefit from a grief support group. 

Q. Is hypnosis a legitimate therapy?

A. Hypnosis is a process in which you become in a very relaxed state and are able to focus on a particular problem. Unlike how it is portrayed in movies, people do not lose control of their behavior during hypnosis and also usually remember what has transpired during the session. Hypnosis has been shown to be significantly effective for reducing stress and anxiety before a medical procedure or surgery. It has also been studied for other uses such as pain control, insomnia, smoking cessation, and phobias. Use caution, however, when choosing a hypnotherapist. Ask about training, experience, licensure, and membership in professional organizations. Also check on the cost and whether or not your insurance covers it.

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Roberta Feldhausen, P.M.H.C.N.S.-B.C.

Director, Mental Health Services, Riderwood

Silver Spring, Md.

Roberta Feldhausen received one bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Hood College in Frederick, Md., and another in nursing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. She graduated with a master’s degree in adult and geriatric psychiatric nursing from the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, Md. Feldhausen is certified in adult psychiatric mental health nursing. She joined Riderwood in October 2004.

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