Exploring Possibilities: Floatation, Veterans, and PTSD

Explore the Possibilities

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real and can be debilitating. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a disorder that can develop in people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD can include severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, confusion, and the inability to function in daily life. Unfortunately, a large number of our Veterans suffer from PTSD. According to a study conducted by RAND, 20% of Veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced symptoms of PTSD. It is the 3rd most common psychiatric diagnosis for Veterans and frequently occurs with alcohol use disorders.

Floatation Therapy appears to be a promising alternative to conventional treatment. Floatation has been gaining popularity in the alternative health field due to its beneficial effects for the mind and body. The Laureate Institute of Brain Research in Oklahoma is currently conducting randomized trials to evaluate the benefits of floatation therapy on anxiety, depression, addiction and eating disorders. In 2012, Float Boston posted a case study titled,  A Story of Depression, Anxiety and PTSD, and cited the benefits that their client “Andrew” experienced while floating three times over a three week period. One interesting improvement was a reduction of “hyper-vigilance” associated with PTSD. In addition, Andrew experienced an increased feeling of well-being that he identified as similar to his anti-anxiety medications, as well as more restful sleep and a decrease in nightmares.

Another case study reported by Anthony Natale, cited similar benefits. Shane Stott, in his book The Float Tank Cure shares Anthony’s story. Anthony,  a veteran counselor, writer and massage therapist suffered from PTSD that caused severe anxiety and insomnia for years. Anthony reported sleeping through the night after his first float. He has since become an advocate for floatation through his own process of recovery. Anthony describes floating as “a cleaning out of your hard-drive”,  it is a way to reorganize and calm our central nervous system.  The deep meditative states achieved in the float assist in re-patterning the nervous system and can help you change the way you think, feel and react permanently.

In addition to calming the nervous system, floatation has been shown to decrease pain, relax the soft tissues of the body, and speed muscle recovery after exercise. If you are suffering from PTSD or know someone who is, floatation is a safe, affordable, and empowering option.


Floating: A Future for Chronic Pain Management

Pain can be debilitating. Chronic pain can steal the days and make nights seem like they go on forever. A new study from Gallup-Healthways showed that 47% of those surveyed reported some type of chronic pain. The majority, 36% reported chronic neck and back pain. The pain cycle intensifies with stress and lack of sleep, which are caused by the pain itself. It is a vicious cycle that has the potential to lead to depression and hopelessness.

Sensory deprivation floatation, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, R.E.S.T. offers a non-toxic, healthy alternative to pain management.   Roderick A Borrie, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at South Oaks Hospital, Amityville, New York and Thomas H. Fine, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the Medical College of Ohio, have researched Floatation R.E.S.T. for chronic pain with some interesting results. They found that Floatation benefits chronic pain patients greatly. The majority of patients that utilized Flotation REST suffered from chronic pain for longer than six months and floated from one to 16 sessions. The most common causes of pain in this group of patients were from motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, or chronic illness. The participants reported a reduction in pain that averaged 31.3%!  The highest level of relief was reported in the upper back at 63.6%.

At Peace Floatation Spa participated in a study in 2011 which yielded similar results. The participants in this study were Fibromyalgia patients with chronic pain. The study showed an average of 33% reduction in pain and muscle tension and a 30% reduction in stress levels with an average of 2.5 days of post float pain relief. Both studies show promise for chronic pain suffers with the use of Floatation Therapy.

“[F]lotation REST can have an important role at several stages of the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, flotation provides a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of relaxation. Relief is immediate and, although temporary, offers promise of further relief from REST and other relaxation-based strategies. Symptom reduction gained from flotation can increase a patient’s motivation and interest in the remainder of the therapy plan. Pain patients generally come into treatment feeling suspicious and skeptical, requiring a clear demonstration that they can be helped.”

Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology
Thomas H. Fine, M.A. and Roderick Borrie, Ph.D.

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