Flotation Therapy helps people suffering from PTSD symptoms in a variety of physical and mental ways.
Though PTSD is such a debilitating disease, there are several effective treatment options out there. Some of the most common methods used to manage PTSD is exposure and cognitive therapies. Even better, these therapies can be complemented by using floating, also known as REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy). Basically, float therapy or “floating” involves spending time floating in a tank or pod full of water nearly saturated with Epsom salts, in which the water is heated to body temperature.
PTSD is an acronym for post-traumatic stress disorder, a debilitating disorder that often develops in the wake of a highly stressful or frightful event. It is important to remember that not everyone that survives traumatic situations end up developing PTSD. Also, symptoms may not always show immediately after the event. For some, it may take up to months or even years for such symptoms to show. So as a general rule, anyone who has been in a highly traumatic situation should seek medical intervention even if they do not display any apparent PTSD symptoms. In this post, we shall uncover how to effectively use float therapy for PTSD.
Who Is the Most Affected With PTSD?
The short answer to this question is anyone who has ever been in a traumatizing situation. One category of such people are combat veterans who often experience flashbacks of the events that took place in their past battlefields. In fact, the U.S Department-of-Veteran-Affairs [http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/epidemiological-facts-ptsd.asp] estimates that up to 20 percent of U.S veterans that have fought in combative situations in Afghanistan and Iraq experience PTSD every year. Of course, the number could be higher depending on how intensive the combat situations are. For instance, up to 30 percent of Vietnam combat veterans are believed to experience PTSD at one point or another in their lifetime. Another group includes young children that lived through abusive childhoods. Though these abuses may have taken place years past, victims are never immune from the occasional dé·jà vu feelings.
Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress-Disorder
Partners that experience turbulent marriages are also likely to experience PTSD. Turbulent marriages could be marked by anything ranging from physical to emotional and even sexual abuse. But apart from the above categories of people, anyone that has ever been involved in a traumatic event is at risk of developing PTSD symptoms. Some of these situations include witnessing a gruesome murder, car accident, experiencing a family member die, sexual assault, to name but a few. According to the Australian-Guidelines-for-the-Treatment-of-Acute-Stress-Disorder-and-Post-traumatic Stress-Disorder [https://www.phoenixaustralia.org/resources/ptsd-guidelines/], between 5 and 10 percent of people get to suffer from PTSD at one point or another in their lives. Also, the National-Center-for-PTSD [http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp] estimates that while about half of the American population will experience traumatic events at some point in time, only a paltry 7 – 8 percent of the cases usually result in PTSD.
The following are some symptoms a PTSD victim will exhibit;
- Flashbacks characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations and sweating.
- Aggressive outbursts.
- Frequent and intrusive memories.
- Emotional numbness. This happens when the victim tries to be insensible to the feelings and thoughts that remind them of their past traumatic experience.
- Avoidance of people, places and things that could trigger the unpleasant memories.
- Irrational and self-destructive behavior.
- Withdrawal accompanied by losing interest in hobbies and other personal interests.
- Hypervigilance, or constantly looking out for anything that could trigger bad memories.
- Hyperarousal, or being emotionally on edge. This is shown by the victim’s sensitivity to people or occurrences. They react disproportionately or in an exaggerated manner to events.
- Anxiety and depression.
- Chronic pain.
- Taking to unhealthy habits such as doing drugs or drinking alcohol.
But just how does float therapy works in terms of alleviating PTSD? Here's how.
Floating for Stress Relief
One of the worst symptoms associated with PTSD, and from which it is aptly named, is stress. However, flotation therapy has been proven to effectively alleviate the stressful feelings that come with PTSD episodes. All you need to do is spend between one and two hours inside a float tank and watch all your stress and anxiety disappear.
Alleviation of Comorbid Disorders
Clinically, comorbid disorders refer to a group of related disorders resulting from an underlying medical condition. Sufferers of PTSD are known to experience anxiety, depression and substance abuse, conditions which float therapy can effectively alleviate. Even better, those who have been in combat situations and are seared with wounds or other physical trauma pains can greatly benefit from float therapy (Sensory Deprivation).
It is important to remember that you are merely treating the symptoms and not the condition itself. However, when pain is alleviated, the patient will have nothing to agonize over during the night. Therefore, they will experience better sleep and be able to get a grip on their biological clock. Habits such as drug and alcohol use are also likely to be managed. Proponents of the float therapy believe that it promotes overall wellness of the body. As such, the sufferer is able to lead a more focused, objective and productive life.
Float Therapy Enhances Meditation
It is only natural that you will be spending some quality time in the float pod. Clearly, there cannot be a better place and time to reach out to the inner you. According to various studies, meditation, coupled with other traditional therapies, has been known to greatly help manage PTSD. Thankfully, float therapy for PTSD helps create an enabling environment for meditation, setting you up on the path of recovery.
Scientific Studies Backing Float Therapy
It is undeniable that float therapy has been used as an alternative medicine for years. But up until recently, there were never real studies investigating the effectiveness of the therapy, especially with anxiety-related disorders such as PTSD. As a matter of fact, only this study [https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=34022] has been peer-reviewed and subsequently published in scientific journals.
In the study, there was a woman who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, along with ADHD and other severe anxiety disorders. The woman underwent several float therapy sessions with scientific researchers diligently monitoring her progress. In the end, there was conclusive evidence on how effective the therapy was. According to the woman, she would feel relieved and less nervous after every flotation therapy. All her fears and racing thoughts were gone, and she felt more confident and determined to face life. She also reports feeling more re energized, and with a more objective outlook of life. Well, that is the only valid scientific research for now, but one with reliable findings all the same.
There is no doubt that flotation therapy or Sensory Deprivation Therapy has always been a common practice among health and wellness proponents. However, this study undeniably renewed interest in the therapy. In 2011, the US had only 85 float centers, a number that has risen to over 250. This clearly proves two things. First, more PTSD sufferers are becoming aware of the role of medical interventions. And secondly, that float therapy for PTSD actually works.
One scientist who is credited with much of the research around float therapy and PTSD is Dr. Justin Feinstein from the Laureate-Institute for Brain-Research. Dr. Feinstein who is a neuropsychologist by profession strongly believes in the potential of flotation therapy in alleviating PTSD, so much that he has a complete laboratory dedicated to this study.
Dr. Feinstein strongly believes in the potential of flotation therapy in alleviating PTSD, so much that he has a complete laboratory dedicated to this study.
Dr. Feinstein has also opened up a float lab that’s based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center features custom-made pools that are designed with no enclosures. According to Feinstein, that is an ingenious way of helping PTSD victims that are dealing with claustrophobia. Each float room has warm air that is heated to your skin’s temperature. And in the middle of the room sits a small pool containing 2,000 pounds worth of Epsom salts. There are other custom-features that ensure your experience in the float pool is as pleasant as possible.
Sensory Deprivation – Anecdotal Evidence
As we have seen, there is still ongoing scientific research on how float therapy works in regard to PTSD. For now, we can only rely on anecdotal accounts. And there are so many accounts to that effect.
- According to one war veteran, he was able to get rid of PTSD three years after trying in vain to do so. In this video, [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFDkVu9HSgkptsd], the veteran remarks as to how recovery came naturally to him, without any medications.
According to the veteran, calmness, confidence and stress release came seamlessly from the therapy.
- Also, according to this story [http://www.floatboston.com/a-story-of-anxiety-and-ptsd/], Float Boston inquired to know how a PTSD sufferer felt whenever he was inside the float tank. And his answers were amazing. First, he remarked how the experience helped him banish insomnia and the frequent nightmares that interfered with his sleep. He also added that as a result of deep sleep he now had from the float therapy, he was able to feel calmer, confident and free of nerves.
- Perhaps one anecdotal account that stands out is that of the 23-year-old Michael Harding, an Australian soldier who was unable to shake off some gruesome event he had experienced. In this interview [http://time.com/floating/], Harding narrates how he witnessed firsthand the murder of his second-in-command in an hours-long siege in Afghanistan.
First, the experience left him trembling so much to an extent he could not light a cigarette on his own. When he was discharged on medical grounds sometime in 2012, his condition only worsened. He became withdrawn, sleep vanished and his life was characterized by nightmares and flashbacks. He tried various kinds of talk therapy, and medication, but nothing worked. Though yoga and meditation somewhat came through, they did not help much. That is when his wife while browsing the internet, came upon flotation therapy REST. His life was never the same again.
Living with PTSD is not easy, but treatment options are available—and as a complement to traditional methods of treatment such as cognitive and exposure therapy, spending time in a float tank can provide tremendous relief from the symptoms of PTSD.
Floating provides a unique opportunity for unplugging from the routine and chaos of daily life. Many people dealing with stress or anxiety can find relief in the float tank, but perhaps no group needs that relief more than veterans suffering from PTSD.
While there is still active research on the effectiveness of float therapy for PTSD, the much we have from anecdotal evidence points out to a very potent and beneficial therapy. But as a general rule, it is important to discuss with your doctor or psychiatrist before undergoing this therapy. If you are looking for more information on how the float therapy can help with PTSD, look no further than https://indigofloat.com/float-therapy/. Here, you will be able to uncover all the benefits of floating for the treatment of PTSD.
If you know someone dealing with PTSD symptoms, reach out and inform him/her about the benefits float therapy can bring to their lives. Indigo Float in all three float centers (Denver, Jacksonville, and Orlando) is committed to bringing mental health awareness to the community as well as providing a most needed quiet time to everyone dealing depression, anxiety, insomnia, or any other symptom from PTSD.
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