Psychology as Medical Therapy

I learned about the importance of hypnosis as part of my practice of pediatric pulmonology when I recognized that oftentimes psychology played a major role in causing and relieving my patients’ symptoms. 

For example, my patients with asthma were more likely to complain of shortness of breath when they were stressed by academic pressures. Patients were more likely to present with habitual cough when their social lives had been disrupted. On the other hand, on holidays patients rarely reported physical symptoms as they were preoccupied with the festivities rather than their health issues.  

I found that self-hypnosis could have a profound effect on many of my patients’ symptoms after 10 minutes of instruction about how to use it. Other patients improved after several sessions of hypnosis therapy. 

As I am a pediatrician as well as a pulmonologist, over the years I expanded my use of hypnosis to children, adolescents, and young adults with any medical condition. I have come to understand that nearly everyone with chronic symptoms can benefit from learning about its application. In the majority of cases patients with significant discomforts develop psychological issues because of their symptoms: 

In a minority of patients, psychological problems are the main cause of their symptoms. In these cases, the symptoms often solve a problem for the patients. 

These patients can all benefit from learning how to calm their emotions with an associated improvement in their symptoms. Patients can recover completely in cases wherein the psychological problems, which are the main cause of their symptoms, are addressed adequately. 

Because psychological factors are nearly always involved in patients with chronic symptoms, I believe that healthcare providers should address these factors early in the course of medical therapy, rather than once all of the standard medical therapies fail.  For example, consider how all of the following patients would have benefitted from an early psychological intervention during their medical therapy. 

Takeaway 

Patients who deal with chronic symptoms should ensure that any associated psychological issues are addressed early in the course of a medical evaluation and treatment planning, especially if the symptoms fail to improve sufficiently with initial medical therapy. 

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Author
Profile Photo or Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP Ran D. Anbar, MD Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP, is board certified in both pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics, offering hypnosis and counseling services at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California, and Syracuse, New York. Dr. Anbar is also a fellow and approved consultant of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Dr. Anbar is a leader in clinical hypnosis, and his 20 years of experience have allowed him to successfully treat over 5,000 children. He also served as a professor of pediatrics and medicine and the director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, for 21 years.

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