In today’s fast-paced world it’s common for many of us to feel anxious or depressed. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, floatation therapy can be a helpful treatment for you. Float therapy has had proven effects when it comes to elevating people’s moods and relieving anxiety, helping people feel better and think more clearly since its development for general use in the 1950s. But how?
High levels of stress have reached epidemic proportions in our culture.
Our stressful lives mean we perpetually send fear signals through our body, putting us into a constant fight or flight mode.
As a result we experience anxiety, depression, tension, pain, sleep disturbance, poor self esteem and lowered immune function. Over 3 million Australians suffer from anxiety and depression in any year.
What is anxiety?
Everyone feels anxious or stressed from time to time, which is a normal temporary response to a situation where we feel under pressure. Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside and they can’t be easily controlled.
It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder include muscle tension, migraine headaches, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia. The constant state of stress can lead to clinical depression, and be a source of substance abuse or addiction in an attempt to quell feelings of anxiety. It can also result in chronic physical illnesses, such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.
What is depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. It is more than just a low mood – people with depression struggle daily (weeks, months or even years), and it can have serious effects on your mental and physical health.
Depression affects the whole person. Whilst the disorder is perceived to begin in the mind with “negative thoughts”, this is not always the case.
Depression can have biological, psychological, physiological and biochemical causes such as imbalances in brain chemistry, but also it has been shown that our gut health and nutrition also has a direct effect on the brain via the vagus nerve. Also, serotonin (the brain chemical responsible for regulating moods) is mainly produced in the stomach!
As a result we experience anxiety, tension, pain, sleep disturbance, poor self esteem and lowered immune function.
Depression and the stress response
Negative thoughts can trigger depression, or feed it further if you are already in a low mood. When a negative thought or image arises in the mind, this can create stress and tension in both the mind and the body.
Whether it is a frown, a feeling of tightness in the stomach, or tension in the shoulders or back – all of these are responses to the brain perceiving a threat and triggering a fight/flight/freeze response via the sympathetic nervous system.
This is our basic survival instinct at work, which is located in our “reptilian” part of the brain. This ancient part of the brain makes no distinction between actual physical threats (like an animal about to attack us) or perceived threats (a negative thought/ worry about the future/ memory from the past).
When this survival response is triggered, we release a hormone called cortisol (also referred to the “stress” hormone). A build up of cortisol in the system can have detrimental effects on the whole system including decreased immune function, decreased memory, increased inflammation and generally can negatively affect metabolism and health over time.
While depression and anxiety are different conditions, it’s not uncommon for them to occur at the same time. Over half of those who experience depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. In some cases, one can lead to the onset of the other.
Float therapy & stress relief
Floatation provides powerful and almost instant stress relief. You will find it nearly impossible to maintain a high stress level with the consistent use of floating.
Physically, floating helps to clear cortisol and stress from the body, allowing the body to deeply relax.
Studies have shown that floatation is an effective treatment for anxiety, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression.
Float therapy is endorsed by the Swedish Government and German doctors are now prescribing floats instead of drugs for stress and relaxation.
How does float therapy help with anxiety & depression?
Float therapy can help in the treatment of anxiety and depression in a number of ways.
One reason floatation therapy is so helpful for anxiety and depression is because it slows down the more analytical side of your brain, turning off parts of your brain that might keep you worrying or make you suffer from racing thoughts.
Floating can help your brain to slow down and re-synchronise its two halves. A slowed down brain is a less anxious brain.
This slowed down brain, may begin releasing theta waves, and acts like a brain in deep meditation, calming your body and mind, and bringing about relaxation. This meditative state can be very powerful in calming and de-stressing for those with anxiety and depression.
Magnesium: alternative treatment for anxiety & depression
Magnesium – an essential and important mineral – plays an important role in anxiety and depression, as it can become easily depleted during times of stress.
Our float tanks contain over 600kgs of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate). Magnesium is easily absorbed via the skin while you float and thereby can be utilised by the cells immediately.
The high levels of magnesium are beneficial to relax the muscles, clearing away physical tension.
A depressed brain is a brain that simply isn’t working properly on a chemical level. Research has shown that magnesium plays a key role in the treatment of depression, as it is commonly depleted in those who suffer depression and affects brain chemistry, particularly serotonin.
Increasing dietary magnesium can be beneficial to improving serotonin production, as well as being beneficial to improving sleep, and enhancing many physiological processes in the body.
People often find that after a float, their sleep is improved.
Feel good naturally
In addition, floating causes the brain to release a flood of endorphins.
Endorphins – also called feel good chemicals – are good for lifting your mood and also help to relieve pain. Relaxing in a float tank can help correct a brain deficient in these chemicals.
Along with the positive feelings caused by endorphins, it is not uncommon for those who engage with float therapy to feel very peaceful, or even joyful or euphoric.
Floatation can result in clear and creative thoughts, very different from the often cloudy thinking of the depressed brain.
On a mental level, floatation can be a wonderful way to introduce the concept of meditation and mindfulness, the awareness that emerges from non-judgementally paying attention to how things are in the present moment.
The simple act of observing our thought processes can increase our awareness of our mental activity, and you can become more aware of the specific thoughts, behaviours or choices which may be contributing to your state of being.
Float tanks help people with anxiety become more aware of their own body: those with anxiety will often imagine that their heart is beating out of control, and a float tank allows them to lie still and really hear their own heart rate and breathing.
Swap your meds
While the float tank offers a way to relax and self-reflect, for scientists like Dr Justin Feinstein, the world’s leading float therapy researcher, floatation also shows promise of helping people deal with anxiety.
Floatation allows the nervous system a chance to relax. According to Feinstein, the level of relaxation achieved in a float tank is similar to what would be achieved with anti-anxiety drugs or meditation.
“I have been diagnosed with multiple health issues from severe anxiety and depression as well as issues that effect my joints and mobility. After my first 1hr session at The Float Space I felt so much more relaxed, calm and energetic. The following week my family constantly commented on how much of an improvement it had made to my overall mood and behaviour. The second and third floats made just as much of an improvement and I really do feel like I am regaining my sanity and my health. I will strongly recommend this place to any of my friends or that has similar health issues. Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience. I cant wait to come back there soon.” Mr D
Float therapy can be an integral part of a comprehensive health care plan. This natural relaxation process can help change your brain so dramatically that it will change your life.
How often do you think … “I wish I didn’t have to take medication for pain, anxiety, depression or sleeping”? So why not take one hour out of your life to help yourself heal naturally?
Start your journey to a happier and more relaxed you! Contact us for more information or book a float now.