The pressures of a modern-day lifestyle have led to an increasing number of cases of anxiety and stress-related illness and addictions.

A growing number of people are now turning to hypnotherapy for help. Siobhan Ryan reports.

Michael, 31, had almost reached the end of his tether before turning to hypnosis for help.

For years, he had been suffering from psoriasis and had tried all the known remedies including tablets, creams, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.

Nothing seemed to have any effect.

So, after hearing about the positive results a friend had when he used hypnotherapy to give up smoking, Michael decided to give it a try.

Stress and anxiety can lead to a flare-up of the condition and Michael hoped that, by working on this, it would be easier to control the psoriasis.

After three sessions of hypnosis, which taught him to relax and be calmer, the anxiety eased and the flareups reduced.

He still gets the odd break out now and again but the condition is much better than before.

Hove-based hypnotherapist and stress management consultant Andrew Spence says life is becoming faster, more hectic and unpredictable and our expectation levels are rising all the time.

He has been running hypnosis sessions for about eight years and says, that with people's lifestyles, it is hardly surprising that sometimes it is difficult to cope with the pressures.

Incidences of anxiety, panic attacks and depression as well as addictions and compulsions increase every year.

These conditions are natural emotional reactions to the stress people find themselves under.

Traditional coping strategies such as over-eating, smoking, alcohol and drugs (recreational and prescribed) may help in the short term but are not the answer in the long term and can lead to illness and disease.

Conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine are recognised as having an emotional element and stressful events can often trigger an outbreak.

Mr Spence says: "The majority of cases I see are anxiety related. People often come to me as a last resort because they can no longer cope.

"The problems are not restricted to being about stress at work. They derive from a combination of factors such as lifestyle and personal problems.

"Relaxation and visualisation techniques are increasingly being used to benefit sufferers and improve the quality of their lives.

"Negative emotions and limiting beliefs stored in the conscious part of the mind from past memories can, and do, have a disabling effect on lives."

Mr Spence says it is not necessary to go through a painful, extended "dig in the past" to release negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, hurt and guilt.

Modern techniques allow healing to take place quickly and painlessly, enabling anxiety to be relieved and depression to be lifted.

The unconscious mind could be described as the computer of your autonomic system.

It is responsible for pumping the blood, regulating the heartbeat and controlling every system within your body.

It is also responsible for storing memories and emotions.

Hypnosis is a state of altered consciousness and heightened awareness.

It is a normal and deeply-relaxed state in which a person is not asleep and stays aware of what is happening.

When a person is in a relaxed state of mind, it is easier for the unconscious mind to communicate with them and make them more susceptible to the positively phrased suggestions which the trained hypnotherapist delivers.

Because matters are dealt with at an unconscious level, the cause of the problem can be ascertained and resolved instead of just treating the symptoms.

Mr Spence says: "You don't have to use hypnosis in every case but problems respond very well to clinical hypnotherapy.

I get a number of referrals from doctors and through word of mouth and the feedback has been positive."

Some of the other conditions that hypnosis and associated techniques can treat successfully are alcoholism, allergies, bedwetting, blushing, disturbed sleep, exam nerves, emotional problems, fear of flying, insecurity, nightmares, phobias and panic attacks.

*FOR more details on hypnotherapy, call 01273 509793 or access Mr Spence's web site at