The Science Behind Float Therapy for Anxiety
Flotation treatment is gaining popularity in today’s digital world, when many of us might feel overwhelmed at times. Flotation tanks are filled with warm water and Epsom salts to keep you floating, the lid is closed, and the lights are turned out. Taking away all sensory stimuli induces a profound state of relaxation by slowing down your brain wave rhythms.
Since its discovery, a number of studies have been published examining the possible therapeutic advantages of floating. The most consistent finding so far has been substantial decreases in subjective tension and improvements in relaxation when comparing pre- to post-float measurements. Additionally to these subjective results, floating has been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels.
The 1st Float Experiment Conducted Was For Reducing Anxiety
The Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) announced the publication in PLoS One of the world’s first float research in patients with anxiety and depression.
Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) lowers sensory input to the nervous system by allowing the user to lie down in a pool of Epsom salt water. The float experience is tuned in such a way that sensory impulses from the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, thermal, tactile, vestibular, gravitational, and proprioceptive channels, as well as the majority of movement and speech, are limited.
These three elements combine to create a unique float session atmosphere that benefits your mind, body, and soul. Together, they provide one of the world’s most calming experiences, refueling your mind and body with essential elements and minerals while refreshing your senses:
- Epsom salt (magnesium and sulphur)
- Very low sensory impulses
- Gravity reduction
The purpose of this open-label research was to determine if float therapy may alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms in a clinical sample. Fifty individuals with a variety of anxiety and stress-related illnesses were recruited (posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety), the majority of whom also had concomitant unipolar depression.
Self-reported affect measures were gathered immediately before and after a 1-hour float session, with the major outcome measure being the change in the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory score from pre- to post-float. Regardless of condition, floatation-REST significantly decreased state anxiety.
Another way of reliving stress and anxiety is doing Yoga Psychology. Learn how Yoga Psychology will empower you with the answers and tools to create the life you want
Result of the Study
Additionally, participants reported substantial decreases in stress, muscular tension, pain, despair, and negative affect, as well as significant improvements in mood, as measured by increases in serenity, relaxation, enjoyment, and general well-being.
The impact sizes were similarly substantial across all diagnostic categories assessed for major symptom-related variables, such as decreases in state anxiety, stress, depression, and negative affect.
An exploratory subgroup study found that those with the highest levels of anxiety saw the greatest impacts. This latter finding is noteworthy in light of the fact that severely anxious participants reported the most severe impairments in life functioning and also demonstrated the greatest resistance to other forms of treatment; approximately two-thirds of severely anxious participants were currently taking an SSRI or SNRI, and more than three-quarters had attempted psychotherapy.
Of potential therapeutic significance, approximately 75% of the total sample and 82% of the highly worried subgroup claimed that Floatation-REST produced more relaxation than any other therapy or procedure they had tried before (S5 Fig).
The operation was generally well tolerated, with no significant safety issues arising from this single session. Although the outcomes of this preliminary investigation need replication in larger controlled trials, they imply that Floatation-REST may be a potential strategy for temporarily alleviating pain in those suffering from anxiety or depression.
Good Things Happen When You Disconnect
Dr. Justin Feinstein explains in this TED presentation how float treatment may assist people, particularly those who suffer from stress and anxiety, unplug their neurological systems from the continual stream of input.
Dr. Feinstein is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and the Director of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research’s Float Clinic and Research Center. His laboratory studies the impact of Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) on the body and brain, as well as its potential as a therapeutic intervention for patients suffering from anxiety and stress-related diseases.
We feel that the future of flotation treatment is bright, and we can’t wait for you to experience our sensory deprivation tank in Utah!