Hypnosis for anxiety, depression, and fear: Does it work?

Besides hypnosis, other forms of therapy may help people with anxiety and other mental health conditions. These treatments have varying success among those with anxiety, depression, or extreme fear.


CBT is a form of talk therapy. It uses structured psychotherapy across a specific number of sessions and focuses on the present rather than the past.

The approach helps individuals identify what is most important to them and work towards achieving these goals, no matter the obstacle. As the name suggests, the cognitive model is the basis of CBT, meaning that the way someone views a situation is more critical than the situation itself.

CBT borrows techniques from many other forms of psychotherapy, including:

  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • compassion-focused therapy
  • solution-focused therapy
  • mindfulness
  • positive psychology
  • motivational interviewing
  • interpersonal psychotherapy

CBT may benefit those with anxiety and depressive disorders. However, it can be more effective for some than others. For example, CBT works better than medication for panic disorder, but the reverse is true in individuals with social anxiety disorder.

Learn more about CBT.

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) creates a link between a person’s mood and the disturbing life events they have experienced.

IPT can often help people cope with major depressive disorder and may offer an alternative to medication. It could also help with anxiety disorders such as social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Learn more about interpersonal therapy.


Meditation is a form of mental training, requiring the individual to calm their mind. It allows people to increase feelings of calmness and physical relaxation, cope with illness, improve psychological balance, and enhance their overall health and well-being.

Some meditation approaches include:

  • mindfulness-based training
  • mindfulness-based intervention
  • mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • mindfulness-based stress reduction

Meditation is particularly effective for depression and potentially more so than other therapies. Under some circumstances, this approach is as effective as prescription medications.

However, for anxiety disorders, meditation is only moderately effective. It also works better for some forms of depressive and anxiety disorders. For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction may improve symptoms of depression and PTSD.

Learn more about meditation.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that practitioners use to help people face their fears. Often, when someone is afraid of something, they avoid it. Exposure therapy works by breaking the pattern of fear and avoidance by “exposing” individuals to the things they avoid and fear in a safe environment.

Various forms of exposure therapy exist. One of them involves in vivo exposure, where the individual directly faces the feared situation, object, or activity in real life. Imaginal exposure is another variation, where an individual vividly imagines the feared situation, object, or activity. Virtual reality technology is also an option when in vivo exposure is not possible, such as for someone with a fear of heights.

Exposure therapy helps with anxiety disorders, including:

  • phobias
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PTSD
  • generalized anxiety disorder

Learn more about exposure therapy