Flotation and anxiety

Dr. Justin Feinstein, of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) in Oklahoma, USA, has just published a study on the use of floatation (in a float pool) in relation to a clinical population displaying various manifestations of anxiety … including those diagnostically labelled with “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) and “panic disorder.”

The paper’s abstract explains that: “Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) reduces sensory input to the nervous system through the act of floating supine in a pool of water saturated with Epsom salt. The float experience is calibrated so that sensory signals from visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, thermal, tactile, vestibular, gravitational and proprioceptive channels are minimized, as is most movement and speech.”

It follows other work that Dr. Feinstein has done on healthy people using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to study their brains before and after floating.

In that earlier project, he found significant brain changes in people who floated compared to people who just rested in a comfortable chair, demonstrating that floating is a very special state of relaxation (and, moreover, is non-invasive and not drug-induced).

Now, for the first time ever in a clinical study, 50 anxious people floated for a single float session.

The providers of the equipment (the large floatpool) say: “Normally these people would not go near a commercial float centre because their anxiety, in its many forms, would make it difficult for them to consider such an experience. But every single participant found significant improvement in how they were feeling after just one float session.

They continue: “It is very moving to learn that some of those subjects felt ‘they got their life back’ or that they found more improvement than gold-standard drug therapy was providing. And this was from a single float session, an hour or so of floating peacefully but in monitored, carefully calibrated conditions. …”

You can read more about this here.

And you can read Dr. Feinstein’s paper here.

Flotation and anxiety
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