Interview - Alfred Bellanti: Author and Clinical Hypnotherapist

Interview: Alfred Bellanti: Author and Clinical Hypnotherapist - September 2017


How To Treat Depression Hypnosis Sydney: Professional Hypnotherapy Eastern Suburbs

Alfred Bellanti and Matt Thistlethwaite MP


Another awesome interview with one of the very valued and appreciated members of Maroubra Business Media.

Alfred is a wise man who is an expert in a number of fields of health, including mental heath. Read about the sometimes controversial and stigma associated areas such as depression and anxiety. Another Media Man scoop!

You work in an area which would be considered somewhat sensitive. When and why did you embark on your journey of covering matters such as depression, anxiety and such?

I started back in 1993 after graduating with a Graduate Diploma in Social Science and a Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy. It was my clients that really got me started on this journey.

Prior to this, what was your career background, and was there a key element that triggered or motivated you to take your career into a new area?

There was no clear career path in my background but what led me to take my career into this area was the knowledge I had gained through my personal experiences, from seeing the clients in my clinic, and from researching the literature.

Do you believe that much or all stigma has been removed from the field of depression and anxiety, be it from a practitioner or patient perspective?

From a practitioner perspective I found that the clients preferred confidentiality because of the stigma associated with any psychological problems.

It was hard to get testimonials that I could use for publicity therefore it was difficult to get new clients and I had to keep funding my practice through part time jobs.

In the meetup group that I run, some of the participants do not want to take part in photographs or even give their real names, such is the stigma they still perceive.

It wasn't until some football stars had publicly declared their depression that the stigma started to lift. But still hear and read of people being 'shunned' by friends and family when they find out that they have a 'mental health' problem.

One hears about different figures been thrown around about how many % of the population has been affected by depression. Do you believe the real numbers are closer to 30 or 50% of people?

This is a very loaded question Greg because the only statistics we have come from reported cases of depression and therefore are not a true statistic. And then there are various types and levels of depression.

If you are talking about all these types and levels of depression then the numbers could very well be close to about 25%.

If you are talking about the kind of depression that incapacitates one's functioning in society or the workforce then the number is not that high, though I am told that the suicide rate, especially among men in Australia is high.

How would someone be able to work out if they have depression and / or anxiety?

Now that's an interesting question and there is no straight forward answer.
We all have days when we feel down, unmotivated, tired, and not sociable but we also know the mood will pass. It's when this mood does not pass week after week that we may work out that there is depression.
There are times we can feel absolutely awful and we think we are depressed but are not.

For example people who go through a relationship breakup or divorce may feel worse than they have ever felt in their life and believe they are depressed, when in fact it's a normal reaction to such an event. Time usually heals that kind of hurt and the individuals recover and get on with life.

The same can be said when someone loses a parent or someone close through death. If feels awful for them and they may believe they are depressed when in fact it is just a normal feeling of grief.

If the feelings or state of mind they experience affects their ability to function normally in society or the workplace in the long term, then depression is a possibility.

With regards to anxiety, it comes down to whether the anxiety affects a person's functioning in society and the workplace.

For example if someone is so anxious socially that they avoid going to parties or going out with friends, or really anxious all the time in the workplace, there is a strong indication there.

On the other hand if someone becoming anxious about a speech or presentation they have to make as part of their job, this is normal. But if it affects them to the extent that they just can't function at all, they may have an anxiety disorder.

There is a 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' or DSM that defines the symptoms for various kinds of depression and anxiety disorders. I have explained these in my book, for educational purpose, though I do not recommend self-diagnosis.

If someone really wants to know they could talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist about their symptoms. Mind you the DSM V is coming into some criticism and at a Mental Health seminar I attended earlier this year the presenter said that many health professionals have turned away from it.

With this heath sector, it would seem to me that prevention would be better than cure? Would you agree? Explain?

I definitely agree that prevention would be better than cure Greg and I even dare suggest that there is no real 'illness' to cure. Other professionals share this opinion. Let me explain.

In a more natural setting, say a tribal setting, in which our ancestors would have lived, each member of the tribe had a sense of belonging and each member knew their role within the tribe.

Ask yourself, did depression exist then, or was there too much focus on survival for depression to exist?

Today's civilization has become so vast and complex that individuals can easily become lost, alienated and feel they have no role or true purpose. Physical survival has become relatively easy, at least in a country such as ours. There is no shortage of food or clean water.

I believe society as a whole seems to have lost a lot of true values and focused on success, glamour and materialism. Our fundamental needs such as food, water and shelter are taken care of yet a lot of emotional and spiritual needs are not fulfilled and success is usually measured as social status, money and material possessions.

When individuals fail to achieve emotional and physical needs and also find themselves unable to meet the implied standards that our society has set, this combination can put the individual at risk of depression.

So you can ask yourself, are depression and anxiety really 'illnesses' or 'diseases' that need to be prevented or cured? Could someone invent or discover a vaccine that would prevent depression or anxiety? … Or is it Society as a whole that needs to be 'cured?'

Is it common that may people effectively use sport and nature to help keep any potential 'black dog' from the door (as I have done rather effectively)?

Sport or exercise have been recommend by a lot of experts as a way to help keep this black dog from the door, and nature too, as you have successfully done Greg.

Getting out in the sunshine and among nature, walking, exercising can all help raise serotonin, which in turn can generate a feeling of wellbeing.

The other thing is finishing tasks that have been put off for a long time, e.g. cleaning your room, mowing the lawn, doing an accumulated stack of dishes. Any of these can generate a feeling of accomplishment which is different to feeling depressed all the time.

What sort of matters could ignite depression or anxiety in someone for either the first time, or as a repeat occurrence?

Let's separate Depression from Anxiety to answer this question.

Depression was once classed as being endogenous or exogenous but now it comes under the label of Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Researchers don't know the exact cause depression. However, they believe that it may be caused by a combination of:

" genetic factors
" biological factors
" psychological factors
" environmental factors

Some people become depressed after losing a loved one, ending a relationship, or experiencing a trauma. However, endogenous depression occurs without an obvious stressful event or other trigger. Symptoms often appear suddenly and for no apparent reason.

Exogenous depression happens after a stressful or traumatic event takes place. This type of depression is more commonly called "reactive" depression.

Regarding anxiety, 'BEYOND BLUE' says an anxiety condition isn't developed or caused by a single factor but a combination of things. A number of other factors play a role, including personality factors, difficult life experiences and physical health.

Other possible causes are prolonged stressful situations e.g.

Work stress

Other mental disorders

Substance use i.e. drugs or alcohol

In your opinion what is the oceans main therapeutic or healing properties, and could this be related to when one is born into the world, or something else?

Yes, and a lot of people may laugh at this, it could be that it's because we were comfortably bathed in amniotic fluid in our mother's womb before birth. Then going into the ocean unconsciously revives some of the pleasant feeling, especially if the water is warm.

But oceans have other properties. For instance:
" We are outside in nature
" Ocean waters contains natural salts and iodine which is otherwise lacking in many people's diet
" Bathing in the ocean is refreshing
" Ocean waters provide the opportunity for exercise e.g. swimming, body surfing etc …
" Then there is a 'deeper' meaning of 'ocean' when it comes to Vedic Meditation

If someone was suffering mild depression, would you recommend coffee drinking or not? (we heard many times that coffee is an anti depressant)?

Coffee can offer a mood lift that can get us going in the morning, I am not sure about its effect as an anti depressant.

I know that regular coffee consumption can become habitual and there are several reports of withdrawal symptoms if coffee consumption is stopped abruptly. There include headaches, irritability, mood change, and inability to concentrate.

And it has been shown that more one coffee daily can increase anxiety levels. My recommendation is that if you must have coffee, only have it in the mornings, and if you find it affects anxiety levels, cut back to just one, or eliminate it altogether.

What sort of drugs or alcohol should someone suffering depression avoid?

Alcohol for someone suffering depression could offer temporary relief but in the long run I believe it will make the depression worse. Alcohol is defined as a nervous system depressant' and consistent alcohol consumption can a lead to alcohol dependency, and that becomes a second problem.

Same as drugs. They may provide temporary but could lead to psychological or physiological dependency, creating a secondary problem.

Prescription drugs should be used minimally and then only if the depression sufferer becomes non-functional or suicidal as a result of the depression.

Your books are awesome.

Depression Self Help

Anxiety Self Help


Why did they take what would seem to be so long to complete?

The book about depression took much longer than the second one on anxiety. That was because I got the idea to write it while I was still working part time and working in my Clinic.

Once I retired I made more rapid process.

The second book, about anxiety was written a lot more quickly, after experience was gained from writing the first book.

For myself, I get much more nervous before I do a radio interview, rather than a television interview. To what could you attribute that to?

When you do a radio interview Greg, are you in the studio by yourself, interviewing or being interviewed remotely? Because in this case there is no visual feedback or body language cues as indicators of how you are doing.

When you do a television interview, it is a visual media and therefore feedback and cues are right there and available to you. You can then adjust yourself accordingly.

How important is good diet to good mental health?

The keystones to good mental health are:

" Nutrition
" Exercise
" Sunshine and fresh air
" Enjoyable use of time

What's your take on positive mental attitude?

If one can maintain a positive mental attitude even while going through depression it would certainly help in recovery however it is near imposible to maintain this when the mind is immersed in that dark space.

Any candid thoughts on the well known organisations Beyond Blue and The Black Dog Institute?

The online resources of these organizations were a great help when I was doing the research to write my books. Other than that, I haven't had any personal experience with them and cannot say very much about them.

It's possible that structured organizations such as these lack spontaneous fluidity and flexibility. Think of a company. Can a company make an instant change or decision or, or does it first have to go through a hierarchy of processes beforehand?

What's your thoughts on business networking events, such as Maroubra Business Media Meet-Up?

I think these events can be good to connect with other business people, learning from each other, networking, maintaining the energy and offering each other support.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as someone who prevented depression from becoming the fourth leading medical cause of disability in Western Civilization as the World Health Organization has predicted will happen by 2020.

What do you do to relax?

Practicing an ancient Vedic Meditation technique that is easy to do and provides a deep rest helps me a lot with relaxation and having fun.


Depression Self Help

Anxiety Self Help


The author, Alfred Bellanti, came from a working class family. The first hint of depression and anxiety were noticed during his final school years when he was transferred to a different high school.

From having been a star pupil he plummeted to the bottom of the class because he lost the ability to focus, concentrate or remember what was being taught in the classroom, especially the mathematics.

A visit to the family physician about this problem was not very helpful. He was prescribed some pills which, apart from making his vision blurry, seemed to make hardly any difference at all. The result was that he failed the end of year exams.

He was glad when the year was over, and determined he wouldn't return. He told his parents he would catch up with his schooling at evening college.

After a few weeks of finishing school, and at the urging from his mother, Alfred got his first full time job and started evening college soon after. The course was spread over five evenings a week.

Working all day and going to evening school five days a week was very difficult and Alfred stopped attending after a few months.

The following year after having changed jobs he enrolled for a course in accountancy and commercial law. Although attendance was required only two nights a week the course was so dry and boring he couldn't stand it any longer.

His full time job as an accounts clerk became more and more meaningless. In 1969 Alfred "dropped out" and found meaning within the hippie culture, he liked their freedom of thought, and the experimentation with psychedelics.

The down side was that the fun, the meaning and freedom he had found was somewhat illusory, and the depression resurfaced, with a vengeance, much worse than before.

Alfred experienced deeper bouts of despair and hopelessness and spent more years trying to find meaning in life, through reading, relationships, travel and a few admissions to a clinic.

Finally he took on the task of completing his high school subjects and went on to complete his first University Degree in Science.

This was indeed very therapeutic for him. From there he moved to graduate study in Psychology, Hypnotherapy and Herbalism.

Alfred is the now author of many articles and established in his practice as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Medical Herbalist.

This was interrupted In 2002 when he suffered a severe cancer that brought him close to death because of the complications after surgery.

Since then he has found his purpose in life and is happy to help others through his practice and by writing articles and books that help the people who don't have access to his services.