The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry puts the number of general anxiety disorder cases in the USA alone at over 19 million people! Of this, it's estimated that around 6 million suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.
This statistic is very revealing.
But one of the most troubling facts about it is that the vast majority of these cases are treated almost exclusively with pharmacological means.
So-called "alternative" therapies have only recently began gathering momentum, as it is now becoming patently obvious to the sufferers of this condition that the "orthodox" pharmacological approach simply doesn't work very well in most cases.
What's worse, it's fraught with dangers and side-effects and whatever results are achieved, usually don't last (not without continuing to use these medications!)..
It is now a widely accepted fact that psychotherapy offers the best tools to effectively (and side-effect-free) deal with panic attacks.
And among the various tools available to psychotherapy, hypnotherapy - and particularly RCH - is presently broadly acknowledged as the (almost) undisputed champion (though proponents of CBT may disagree: see my other reports for more on this subject).
The "disputes" which still exist come almost invariably from the psychiatric/medical and pharmacological circles (and some from "competing" natural therapies).
But the voices that matter most - the patients themselves - once they've tried this method, rarely if ever go back.
There's no need, because they get cured very quickly! It needs to be acknowledged that not all forms of panic attacks yield to hypnotherapy.
Usually, these are linked to "clinical depressions.
" This may be because they indeed have a "physical" background as the majority of psychiatrists maintain, or because these particular individuals are simply extremely resistant to "digging in their subconscious past.
" For those (minority) sufferers, the orthodox, medicinal route may be the only way to go.
For the rest, there are many different types of alternative and "natural" treatments, and many of them report excellent results.
If a particular practitioner of a given method is sufficiently adept at applying it to his or her patients, he or she may even achieve an incredibly high cure rate.
But a method which tends to work the best for most therapists, is hypnosis.
This said, there are many different types of hypnotic therapies, so this statement shouldn't be left unqualified.
The methodology which I advocate ("Root Cause Hypnotherapy") is one which works the best, even if it isn't entirely conventional.
At the heart of psychotherapeutic treatments aimed at curing panic attacks lies one deceptively simple assumption: the cause for them can be traced to one or more traumatic experiences in the patient's past.
Some of those traumatic experiences may have been obvious to an outsider, others may have been very subtle and convoluted and a logical link may appear tenuous at best or even unlikely.
The psychotherapist's job is not to unravel these logical - or illogical - connections.
The job is simply to help the patient discover that root event and then help him or her deal with it - once it's discovered.
A psychologist always strives to look for purely "natural" or "psychological" solutions to all the various psychological conditions.
This is what most psychologists have in common.
But the difference between different treatments really comes down to the manner in which the therapies are conducted.
In case of panic attacks, for instance a psychologist may try to "reason" with the patient or "persuade" him or her or perhaps make "lifestyle recommendations".
Or, as in my case, resort to "techniques" such as hypnosis.
Some psychologists prefer not to look for those root causes, but rather choose to focus on rebuilding and strengthening their patients' personality structures - a process which, if conducted well, can also lead to excellent results.
Other non-psychological approaches include diets, exercise regimens or meditation, and there is a lot to recommend some of these methods, when taken on a case by case basis.
It also needs to be pointed out that combination methodologies can also work very well.
Recently even some psychiatric treatments started employing elements of hypnotherapy.
Most methodologies which do not address the root causes, however, unlike hypnotherapy, have less chance of long-term success.
My personal issue with many of those "alternative treatments" is the highly variant methodology.
It seems that for every "healer" there's a different method.
This means that while some may indeed be very successful with their techniques, others may be total failures - but the public is still left none the wiser, and no one can reasonably say that, for example, "special diet techniques cure panic attacks.
" SOME may well do.
But which ones? In case of hypnotherapy, this reservation also holds true, but to a much lesser degree.
Modern therapeutic methodologies are now quite well established and as long as the practitioner applies them correctly, his or her results are actually quite predictable.
Not in all cases, of course.
Recently the number of hypnosis courses has skyrocketed and it may seem like every Tom, Dick and Harry is now a hypnotist.
This amateur hypnosis trend is perhaps the single most troubling development in this otherwise superbly promising field.
Thousands of well-meaning amateurs can do much damage to hypnotherapy's reputation.
I've frequently heard of patients bitterly complaining how they were mislead or cheated by a "hypnotist".
But it needs to be said that these kind of situations are not limited to hypnosis.
Charlatans are everywhere.
And they're not limited to "alternative" circles.
As a university student I remember a popular booklet being circulated, entitled "How To Cheat With Statistics...