Graham D Burrows and Sandra G Boughton

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University of Melbourne, Australia; University of Western Australia, Australia

Depression is a frequently occurring disorder with estimates of the lifetime risk for Major Depressive Disorder varying from 10 to 25% for women and from 5 to 12% for men. Significant levels of depression are also associated with many other major disorders, such as chronic pain. There appears to be a widespread assumption that hypnosis has no role, indeed is inappropriate, in the management of depression. In Australia, over the past 10 years, material presented for examination by the Australian Hypnosis Society or for publication in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Hypnosis has not included any detailed description of clinical or experimental work on the use of hypnosis in the treatment of depression. The understanding has been that expert opinion regards hypnosis as contraindicated for the management of individuals presenting with depression. It would seem that the situation has not significantly changed since Burrows (1980) concluded that

It would seem nevertheless that most experienced clinicians teach that severe depressive illness is a definite contraindication to hypnosis. Although they teach this, depressive illness appears to have received, for such an exceedingly common medical problem, minimal attention in most modern reference books on hypnosis. A possible interpretation is that the authors concerned may believe hypnosis has little place in the therapy of depression. (p. 167)

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