Float Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Originally developed in the 1950s by researchers at Washington’s National Institute of Mental Health, float therapy has been reported to have wide-ranging mental and physical benefits. The relaxation response in particular is of interest to those affected by PTSD.

Floating in a float tank suppresses the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system which when active produces the ‘fight or flight’ response. This then activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxation, healing, replenishment, etc. Some physical symptoms of the relaxation response are decreased muscle tension, decreased blood pressure, decreased stress hormones and increased endorphins.

Further, floating facilitates increased stress resistance. Regular floating can alter the set-points in the endocrine homeostatic mechanism which can cause adjustments such as a lower adrenal activation threshold. This results in higher resistance to the stimuli of chronic stressors and development of a physiological higher threshold. Other positive effects commonly experienced are improved sleep patterns, energy levels and overall greater levels of perceived levels of quality of life.

Recent research conducted on floating in the US holds exciting news for anxiety and PTSD, showing the level of relaxation achieved in a float tank is similar to that of anti-anxiety drugs.

Based on our experience with clients suffering from chronic stress related issues including PTSD, we have seen that a regular float practice achieves very positive outcomes. Below is a brief written by one of our clients, Nicholas Hodge, a retired war veteran, about his experience after his first three float sessions at The Float Space Maroochydore. Float Therapy s now being tested as a treatment for anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Case Study: A Medically Retired War Veteran’s Ongoing Experience of Floating

By Nicholas Hodge, Former Infantry Soldier and Former Australian Federal Police

 

Background

I am 41 years of age and served 10 years in both the Australian Army and another ten years with Australian Federal Police.  I was officially Medically Retired at the age of 37 on 28 August 2013.  I have been medically diagnosed with the following:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Conversion Disorder
  • Spinal Spondylyosis
  • Herniated Spinal Disks
  • Centralised Neuropathic Pain
  • Alcohol Dependence (now sober)
  • Hearing Loss
  • Tinnitus

The current standard treatment available to a Veteran by the Department of Veteran Affairs is mainly based on Western Medicine, e.g. Psychiatric Medications, Chiropractor, and Pain Relief Medications.

On the advice from a Veteran Organisation named Weeded Warriors, my wife and I have now commenced the treatment of Floating which basically is immersing the body into a tank filled with water that contains a significant amount of Epsom Salts.   This allows the body and mind to achieve in my own experience:

  • Zero Gravity effect on the body
  • Achievement of Neutral Buoyancy
  • Graduated Deprivation of sound/lighting
  • Significant Pain Relief for approx 12 hours after
  • Ability to practice Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
  • Reduction of PTSD Symptoms for approx 24 hours
  • Trusting the experience that the body can float without a feeling of drowning

Concurrently, Floating is an experience I do with my Wife as a “Together Heal Time” as my Wife Suffers from secondary PTSD as a result of my medical conditions.

Personal Benefits

The experience of floating I have found thus far has enabled me to practice Mindfulness Meditation using several techniques in a safe space.  I have cried and let out some deep emotion whilst floating and have also received increased libido for approx 6 hours, it’s the feeling of been naked and free that does it to me.

My wife and I will continue to Float, as it provides a relief in our lifestyle and offers a Holistic Self Care Approach whilst in the Float Tank.

Initial Experience

My first float I felt nervous especially been in a pod filled with water not knowing that it is completely safe, I gradually settled and began to practice mindfulness, it was also about trusting the process and the equipment.

Conclusion

Floating has provided my wife and I another tool to use in our ongoing journey with Mental and Physical Illnesses, it also has provided significant pain relief and whilst in the Pod, it is an extremely positive effect on self-awareness of Mind and Body.  Although this Treatment is not recognised by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Float Space is considering a suitable discounted package for Veterans.

Contact our friendly team at The Float Space today to find out how we can help you or a loved one.

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