Category Archives: Physical Health

Always Tired? Is ‘Adrenal Fatigue’ A Real Syndrome?

adrenal fatigue

 

 

We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that significant and protracted childhood trauma can physically damage the developing brain and, in particular, the development of a brain region known as the AMYGDALA.

amygdala

One of the functions of the amygdala is to regulate our emotions, including fear and anxiety, and, as a result of this damage, it can become dysfunctional.

This dysfunction may result in the amygdala becoming ‘stuck in overdrive’ leading us to feel constantly highly anxious and fearful – in other words, locked into a perpetual state of ‘fight or flight’.

When we are in a state of ‘fight or flight’, our bodies undergo certain physical effects; these include :

– increased heart rate

– increased blood pressure

– rapid breathing

– an increase in the production of the stress hormone known as cortisol

– an increase in the stress hormone known as adrenalin

According to Adrenal Fatigue theory, when we are subjected to chronic, intense stress, such as that described above, the adrenal gland becomes dysfunctional resulting in symptoms such as those listed below:

– constant, extreme tiredness

– an impaired ability to concentrate

– difficulty in getting out of bed in the morning

However, it is important to note that, at the time of writing, there exists insufficient evidence to establish Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome as a formally recognized disorder in the world of mainstream medicine.

 

adrenal fatigue

Conclusion:

If  ‘adrenalin fatigue syndrome’ is not, in fact, a real condition, being diagnosed with it by an alternative therapist might detract from the real issue which could be, for example, depressionchronic fatigue syndrome, heart failure, diabetes, poor diet, poor quality sleep or anemia, all of which conditions may produce symptoms of extreme and chronic fatigue.

Resource:

Traumatic childhood

Downloadable MP3 or CD for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome : click here 

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How Emotional Suffering Is Like Physical Pain.

child trauma

At the height of my own mental turmoil, which lasted many years, my emotional distress was so intense that the only way I could carry on was to remind myself constantly that I could escape it through suicide. The major part of each day I spent obsessively going over and over in my mind how I could accomplish it successfully.

physical pain similar to emotional pain

I wanted a method with a one hundred per cent guarantee of working; however, whenever I came up with a method I thought I’d be brave enough to undertake, I always also came up with an idea of how it, just conceivably, might fail.

However remote the chance of this failure was, it would prevent me going ahead as I was terrified that I would end up not only suicidally depressed, but additionally crippled, quadriplegic, and/or brain damaged. (A previous suicide attempt I’d made, which I thought fool-proof, left me in a coma for five days and easily could have caused me to incur brain damage).

compare physical and mental pain

Furthermore, (and I am embarrassed to admit this) although I am not a religious person, in my paranoid state I was afraid that if I succeeded in killing myself I might be cast into hell and tortured for all eternity (actually, this is a common fear many deeply, clinically depressed people have : to sleep, perchance to dream, as Hamlet metaphorically and euphemistically expressed it). I would then go over and over in my mind all the different kinds of torture I might have to endure.

On one’s own, unable to sleep at 3am (cue thunder clap, lightning strike and eerily howling wind), this is a truly terrifying state of mind to be in.

When I would try to describe to doctors, therapists and psychiatrists how I felt (impossible – this is one of the worst aspects of mental illness, the sheer incommunicability of the depth and intensity of one’s suffering) I would explain, as best I could, that I felt a constant pain in my head which tortured me, and that this pain was neither wholly physical nor wholly mental; rather, it was some indefinable combination of the two.

Why is such emotional suffering so painful, even agonizing? In fact, a look at the neurology underlying emotional pain helps us to understand at least part of the answer.

 

The Underlying Neurology Of Emotional And Psychological Suffering:

Recent studies (eg Randle et al; DeWall et al) have highlighted how the brain may respond to emotional pain (such as rejection) in a similar manner to how it responds to physical pain.

Indeed, brain scans have revealed that, irrespective of whethet it’s the case that a person is experiencing emotional pain or physical pain, the same brain regions become highly activated. These two brain regions are:

1) THE SECONDARY SOMTASENSORY CORTEX

2) THE DORSAL POSTERIOR INSULA

Because the brain seems to interpret physical and emotional pain in similar ways, it is perhaps not surprising that some evidence has been found suggesting some pain killer medication (originally intended to treat only physical pain) may help to ameliorate emotional pain/mental distress, such as aspirin and Tylenol. However, this idea remains (currently) controversial due to the paucity of reliable data.

More research needs to be conducted – at the time of writing the jury remains out.

The Cycle Of Pain:

The pain cycle

Above: The cycle of pain shown above is applicable to both mental and physical pain:

 

eBook:

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Studies Show Pain Of Rejection Worse Than Physical Pain

Have you ever experienced intense, almost unbearable, emotional pain and mental anguish as a result of a rejection?

I remember, on occasions in the past, trying to explain to my psychiatrist how the turmoil in my mind resembled an excruciating, almost physical, pain.

Such pain, of course, is likely to be particularly acute and devastating if that rejection comes from a parent, or, indeed, from both parents.

As I have stated in other posts on this site, I have the dubious distinction of having been rejected by both my parents on separate occasions – by my mother when I was thirteen years old and then, some years later, by my father and step-mother, making me homeless and, therefore,  humiliatingly necessitating me to be taken in to the home of a friend’s parents, to whom I remain grateful (incidentally, my step-mother was deeply religious and founded a charity for the homeless – Watford New Hope Trust – a cruel irony that was far from lost on me, let me assure you).

Recent studies have shown that the emotional pain of rejection activates the same area of the brain that physical does; the brain area involved is known as: the ANTERIOR CINGULATE CORTEX.

download

Further evidence that the way we experience emotional pain is similar  to how we experience physical pain comes from the finding that the medication Tylenol, which is taken to reduce feelings of physical pain, also ameliorates sensations of emotional pain.

Also, a study connected to Purdue University, Australia, compared two groups of individuals:

GROUP 1 : were asked to recall a physically painful event that had taken place in the previous 5 years.

GROUP 2 : were asked to recall an emotionally painful event which had taken place in the last 5 years.

RESULTS : Those in GROUP 2 (who relived the adverse emotional event) reported experiencing higher levels of pain induced by this replaying in their minds of this unhappy event than those in GROUP 1 experienced as a result of recalling their physically painful event.

One reason for the level of pain we may feel as a result of rejection is that we have a marked tendency to blame ourselves for the rejection (we may infer we must be in some way lacking) even though such self-blame is very often objectively unwarranted.

Also, emotional pain caused by a rejection can keep coming back to haunt us, again and again and again…we may even obsessively think about our rejection and the person who rejected us. When it comes to physical pain, however, once it is over the memory of it does not result in us re-experiencing it.

Evolutionary Explanation Of Why Rejection Can Be So Painful:

We have evolved to find rejection painful as our distant ancestors lived in groups which increased their likelihood of survival. Rejection by the group would have endangered their survival so they evolved to find social rejection painful as it discouraged them from behaving in ways that could result in such rejection (just as, for example, we have evolved to find coming into direct contact with fire painful to help to prevent burning and damaging our skin).

And rejection by parents, for our ancestors, could easily prove fatal.

Resources:

Dealing With Rejection (downloadable hypnosis MP3). Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

How PTSD Can Leave Us Feeling Unremittingly Exhausted.

Many sufferers of PTSD feel constantly exhausted and, in this article, I want to examine the reasons why:

Causes of exhaustion in the PTSD sufferer:

1) Disrupted sleep.

At my illest, I was having to retire to bed at 3pm and would not re-emerge until about 15 hours later (ie 6am the next day).The sleep itself was very low quality, extremely broken and unrefreshing; I would wake up literally dozens of times and the sleep I did get was full of hideous, terrifying nightmares.

Indeed, badly disrupted sleep is very common in individuals who suffer from PTSD. The person may have frequent and intense nightmares, suffer broken sleep, take a long time to fall asleep and wake up undesirably early in the morning, unable to get back to sleep despite feeling exhausted (indeed, this is also one of the hallmarks of major depression).

PTSD sufferers who experience such symptoms of insomnia wake up feeling both mentally and physically unrefreshed and, as a consequence, find both their physical and mental abilities are impaired.

Also, as a result of not sleeping properly, they often find their ability to cope with everyday life is greatly diminished and their vulnerability to the adverse effects of stress are greatly increased.

2) Psychological strain.

People with PTSD are constantly tormented by, and attempting to fight, extremely painful memories and distressing intrusive thoughts. This, too, is exhausting.

3) Effort of ‘putting up a front’/hiding behind a false self.

Many sufferers of PTSD do not want others  (such as acquaintances and work associates) to know about their illness so feel they need to ‘wear a social mask’ and pretend that ‘everything’s fine’. Keeping up such a pretence is mentally taxing and extremely tiring.

4) Effects on diet.

People with PTSD may lose their appetites and consequently under-eat, leading to malnutrition and deprivation of important minerals and vitamins which may cause increased fatigue.

5) Workaholism.

Woody Allen, who has written, directed and, often, acted in one film a year for many decades says he works so much to distract himself from pessimistic thoughts and existential angst. In a similar way, one way some PTSD sufferers try to cope with their disturbing thoughts and feelings is to immerse themselves in work in order to divert their minds, working each day for excessive hours ( up to 20 hours a day, in the most extreme cases).

Consequences of extreme tiredness/exhaustion in the PTSD sufferer:

The consequences of the great fatigue the PTSD sufferer may experience include:

1) Lacking in mental and physical energy

Above: Exhaustion from PTSD? (Pussycat Traumatic Stress Disorder).

2) Poor concentration

3) Poor decision making / poor judgment

4) Irritable mood

5) Extreme tiredness can lead to the development of depression (on the other hand, depression can also lead to constant tiredness)

6) Reduced ability to cope with everyday life

7) Impaired work performance / leads to more days absent from work

8) Impaired social life

9) Increased risk to physical health

Resources:

Deep Sleep Program Insomnia Cure – click here for information

Overcome Fatigue And Lethargy Self-Hypnosis Download – click here for more information

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Is Your Anxiety Caused By Hyperventilation? A Look At The Science.

the-science-behind-hyperventilation-and-anxiety

Hyperventilation (deriving from HYPER = TOO MUCH and VENTILATION = AIR MOVEMENT) refers to a type of breathing which is too deep and too rapid.

Such breathing results in :

1) too much oxygen

and

2) too little carbon dioxide

entering the blood stream.

Indeed, severe hyperventilation can result in the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood stream falling by 50℅ within sixty seconds.

Why is a reduction of the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood undesirable?

A significant reduction of the normal amount of carbon dioxide circulating in the blood stream is undesirable because it raises the pH levels in nerve cells.

This, in turn, makes the nerve cells too excitable and can trigger the fight/flight response (click here to read my article about this). The physiological effect of this can then lead to symptoms such as those I list below:

– sweating

– dizziness/faintness/light – headedness

– tingling sensations in the hands and feet

– rapid heart beat ( also known as tachycardia) and/or heart palpitations

– chest pains/heart burn

– a dry mouth

– muscle tension and/or muscle spasms

– shortness of breath/a choking sensation

– difficulty swallowing

– fatigue and/or feelings of weakness

Such symptoms of anxiety can occur very quickly once we start to hyperventilate ; within a minute, in fact.

 

Lack of awareness:

Many people whose anxiety is linked to the fact that they hyperventilate do not realise that their maladaptive breathing style is significantly contributing to their symptoms. Indeed, many do not realise that they are hyperventilating. I myself hyperventilated for years without being properly aware of the fact and without fully appreciating how important it is to train oneself to stop doing it. I suppose an (irrational) part of me felt that such a simple change could not make a significant difference to how I was feeling.

 

Two main types of hyperventilation:

These two types are:

1) At rest, breathing from the upper chest instead of from the diaphragm

2) At rest, breathing through the mouth instead of the nose

Many people who suffer from anxiety breathe from the upper chest whilst at rest. Whilst breathing from the upper chest is normal when we are in imminent danger (as it prepares us for ‘ fight or flight’ by introducing extra oxyden into the blood stream) and evolved to help our distant ancestors avoid danger from predators (eg by feeding muscles with extra oxygen to help them run away from the threat as fast as possible), such breathing was designed by evolution to be a temporary response triggered by a life-threatening, physical danger – so it only rarely serves a useful purpose for us today.

On the contrary, in fact, continuous, chronic breathing in this way can effectively permanently trap us in the ‘ fight/flight’ response.

This, in turn, can lead us feel under threat, nervous, fearful and in danger chronically.

 

Examples of conditions to which hyperventilation can be particularly relevant:

The three examples are :

social phobia

PTSD/flashbacks (click here to read my article about childhood trauma and PTSD)

panic disorder

1) Social phobia:

A person with social phobia may have their tendency to hyperventilate triggered by stressful social situations. The hyperventilation, in turn, will lead to increased symptoms of anxiety which can then result in the person’s hyperventilating becoming more severe still. In this way, a vicious cycle can develop (see below).

vicious_cycle_of_hyperventilation

2) PTSD/flashbacks:

A similar vicious cycle may occur when anxiety symptoms are triggered by a flashback.

3) Panic disorder:

In extreme cases, the vicious cycle of anxiety/panic can increase symptoms of anxiety to a level at which a panic attack occurs.

why_does_breathing_into_paper_bag_help_lower_anxiety_levels?

Based on the science above, some people find that breathing into a paper bag helps when experiencing a panic attack, as doing so increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood stream and returns them to normal.

Resource:

Learn Deep Breathing Relaxation Techniques Rapidly. CLICK HERE.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Possible Adverse Physical Effects of CPTSD

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Unfortunately, as well as psychological effects, if we have developed complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a result of our childhood experiences (click here to read my article on the difference between PTSD and CPTSD), the condition can also give rise to adverse physical effects (i.e. bodily/somatic effects).

The main reason for this is that, as sufferers of CPTSD, we tend to be chronically locked into a state of distressing hyper-arousal (which psychologists often refer to as the fight/flight state – click here to read my article on this).

Essentially, this means that our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM becomes CHRONICALLY OVER-ACTIVATED, which, in turn, can lead to harmful bodily processes resulting in, for example :

– over-production of ADRENALINE (a hormone that is produced by the body when we perceive ourselves to be in danger, preparing us for ‘fight or flight’)

– disrupted sleep (which can have a deleterious effect on our physical health).

– stomach disorders (due to a tightened digestive tract)

– excessive muscle tension

– shallow/rapid breathing (causing us to take in too much CO2 (carbon dioxide)  and not enough O (oxygen) – this can cause panic attacks

– a general inability to relax leading to unhealthy ‘self-medication’ such as excessive drinking, smoking, over-eating, use of narcotics

images

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

There are various strategies we can use to help manage this problem, including :

– stretching exercises

– yoga

– massage

– mindfulness meditation

– self-hypnosis for relaxation

(See ‘RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS’ in the MAIN MENU for mindfulness and self-hypnosis products, or click here).

The above therapies are likely to be more effective if combined with other therapies that address the root of the problem (i.e. adverse childhood experiences). In relation to this, the following may be considered :

– COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) – click here to read my article on this

– DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (DBT) – click here to read my article on this

– EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITISATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY (EMDR) – click here to read my article on this

RESOURCES :

HELP FOR PTSD – ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRY

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Stressful Experiences Linked to Childhood Obesity

cropped-childhood-trauma-fact-sheet15.png

Stress And Childhood Obesity

We are frequently reminded by the media that, in the western world, obesity in children has increased at an alarming rate since around the 1970s ; worse, this rate of increase is expected to keep on growing for the foreseeable future. Indeed, in the United States, for example, one in six children are now medically classified as overweight or obese. The reasons that children become obese can be contributed to by both genetic and environmental factors. In the past, research into the causes of childhood obesity have tended to focus on the balance between the child’s intake of calories versus his/her level of physical exercise ; in this article, however, I intend to focus on other environmental causes – more specifically, the effects of stress.

child_stress_obesity

The link between stress and childhood obesity has only been examined by psychologists since relatively recently. Some of the main findings from studies that have been conducted have been :

– research by the psychologists Avisont and Walters (2007) found that children growing up in one-parent families were more likely to be obese than those who grow up in a secure nuclear family (although this by no means implies a simple, direct, cause and effect relationship ; it could, for example, be that one-parent families tend to have less money which in turn causes more stress which, in its own turn, makes it more likely the children in the family will become obese (due to a reliance on cheap, junk food, for instance)

– the researcher, Rhee (2008), found that children from dysfunctional families were more likely to be obese than were children from stable homes.

– children who suffered neglect were more likely than non-neglected children to be obese (Lissan, 1994).

– children who live in homes where at least one other has mental or physical health problems were more likely to be obese than those children who did not – children who grew up in households where money worries were substantial were more likely to be obese than their more financially privileged contemporaries

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE LINK BETWEEN STRESS AND CHILDHOOD OBESITY :

The main theories for the link between stressful experiences and obesity in childhood are as follows : – the researchers Booth et al (2000) have suggested that there is a direct physiological link between stress and obesity, namely that stress causes an increase of CORTISOL in the body and this, in turn, adversely interferes with the METABOLIC PROCESS – stress leads to poor eating habits (eg due to ‘comfort eating’, craving carbohydrates etc) and lower physical activity levels (eg due to poor motivation to exercise connected to low mood/reduced will-power)

IMPLICATIONS FOR TREATMENT :

The implications of these findings for treatment are clear – by addressing factors such as those referred to above, and, thereby, reducing stress levels in the members of problematic families, it may well follow that childhood obesity levels can be reduced.

RESOURCES :

www.bpd.org.uk – Article entitled ‘Does Stress Cause Childhood Obesity – CLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Adverse Effects on Physical Health of Childhood Trauma

child trauma and health

A vast amount of research has been carried out on the potentially devastating psychological impact of childhood trauma upon the individual. Far less, however, has been conducted on such trauma’s effect on physical health (or, as it’s also termed, psychobiological effects). Indeed, it is only in the last decade that studies into physical health effects of early trauma have become more frequent. In this article, which serves as an introduction to the topic, I will review some of the main findings of research thus far.

The data collected so far shows that childhood trauma is related to poorer physical health in later life (ie compared to those who did not suffer significant early trauma). It is certainly worth noting, too, that this adverse effect on physical health of childhood trauma is DOUBLED if there continues to be significant stress in later life.

An important point to make is that childhood trauma can adversely impact upon the later physical health of  the person in two different ways :

a) DIRECTLY

b) INDIRECTLY

It is theorized that DIRECT effects include the harmful effect childhood trauma can have on brain development which then lowers the individual’s ability to cope with stress and also lowers his/her immune functioning.

INDIRECT effects result from behaviours which might manifest themselves in response to childhood trauma; these include :

excessive drinking

heavy/early onset smoking

illicit drug use

high risk sexual behavior (unprotected/multiple partners)

– decreased physical activity

– compulsive eating/severe obesity (Felitti et al, 1998).

 

 

WHICH PHYSICAL HEALTH PROBLEMS HAS CHILDHOOD TRAUMA BEEN LINKED TO ?

The list is, sadly, extensive. So far, studies indicate the following physical problems occur significantly more frequently in those who have suffered childhood trauma :

– diabetes

– gastrointestinal problems

– irritable bowel syndrome

– obesity

– headaches

– breast cancer (Golding, 1994, 1999)

– thyroid disease (Stein and Barrett-Connor, 2000)

– bladder problems

– asthma

– heart problems (Dong et al, 2004)

 

 

THE ROLE OF FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS :

Family characteristics, linked to childhood trauma, may also contribute to poor health outcomes for those who grew up in such families. These family characteristics include :

– parental abandonment

parental psychopathology

– family conflict

– low socioeconomic status

– parental loss or absence

– parental divorce

Research into the relationship between family characteristics like those described above is ongoing in order to distinguish the influence of such factors from co-occurring childhood adversities.

 

THE ROLE OF PSYCHIATRIC FACTORS :

Because those who suffer childhood trauma are at significantly greater risk of developing psychiatric disorders. these too (eg by increasing risk taking behavior) will often have a marked knock on effect in relation to the person’s physical health. In particular, insomnia leading to sleep deprivation is an area of interest for more research into this. Also, of course, the side-effects of potent psychiatric drugs need to be further examined.

Finally, it should be pointed out that different types of childhood trauma are likely to lead to different adverse physical effects, which in turn means different treatment approaches need to be considered.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Hypnotherapy Treatment to Reduce Damaging Behaviours Caused by Trauma – 1) Smoking

childhood_trauma_effects

The experience of childhood trauma can lead us to develop maladaptive (self-damaging) coping strategies to attempt to gain some relief from symptoms caused by the trauma such as depression and anxiety. Such self-damaging behaviours, to give just a few examples, may include : smoking, drinking too much, drug use and gambling – these are all what are known as ways of dissociating from uncomfortable emotions.

These self-damaging behaviours can be regarded, in part, as indirect symptoms of our painful life experiences. In this post, I want to discuss how such harmful behaviours may be addressed by employing the use of hypnotherapy

Self-damaging behaviours frequently give rise to what are known as PREVENTABLE DISEASES. Lung cancers caused by smoking (about 80% of all lung cancer cases) would clearly be one example of a preventable disease.

Hypnosis can be used to not only reduce the incidence of health damaging behaviours, but, it may, too, be used to ENHANCE BEHAVIOURS WHICH BENEFIT HEALTH such as keeping to a healthy diet or increasing the amount of exercise a person takes, to give just two examples.

Extremely often, however, when people attempt to alter their health behaviours for the better on their own, they find it extremely difficult. Because of this, about a quarter of people in the U.S. are at increased risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

It is particularly important to focus on the self-damaging health behaviours of people who have suffered childhood trauma because, frequently, they will have developed psychological problems as a result of their painful experiences such as depression and anxiety., both they and their doctors may well have been focusing so much upon their emotional difficulties that their physical health issues have taken a back seat.

HYPNOTHERAPY AS AN AID TO HELP PEOPLE STOP SMOKING :

Out of 65 million people in the U.S. who smoke, up to 80% of them want to quit the habit at any one time. However, research shows that only about 5% of those individuals will be able to achieve this on their own.

Because of the very poor success rate of individuals stopping smoking without any help, many turn to hypnotherapy. Research studies into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in helping people to quit their habit has yielded varying results, but one study, by Elkins et al (2003), showed that its success rate can be as high as 80%.

Further research, by Glover and Glover (2001) demonstrated that hypnotherapy can be even more successful in helping individuals stop smoking when it is combined with nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges.

childhood_ trauma _workbook

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Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery