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“Once I found Zero Gravity I came off of Zoloft all the way and I was on no medications at all. I’m more inclined to learn. I’m more inclined to be in a positive mood. It’s just really something amazing they have going on here.” Cody Austill – Iraq War Veteran

The simple act of floating in warm salty water is the most relaxing experience on Earth."

A float tank, or float pod, is a small, enclosed pool usually just big enough for one person to lie down in. The water is less than a foot deep, but has so much Epsom salt dissolved in it that it’s more dense than the Dead Sea — each tank contains 800 to 1000 lbs of Epsom salt to provide buoyancy.! You float effortlessly.  The tank is kept warm, body temperature, and it’s enclosed so it’s completely dark and quiet.  It’s your own private world. It’s utterly relaxing.  The lid may be closed or left open, you’re in control.

Float therapy helping veterans with PTSD Youtube Float Therapy

David Manfield Clinical Psychologist on floatation therapy and PTSD  Youtube

“Great news for police and police personnel. Research into Floating has proven to be a very effective activity for reducing physical pain and overall stress.

Floating weightlessly, and effortlessly in skin temperature water infused with 1200 lbs of Epsom salt is as close to the womb experience as one could replicate.  Benefits of one session are immediately obvious, and I can see now how floating on a regular basis can be a positive and uplifting experience, mentally and physically.

From my own personal experience living with PTSD, I noticed immediately how floating reduced my anxiety levels and other PTSD related disorder symptoms.  I had achieved total relaxation and know that floating can benefit others just as well.”

To read the full article, please visit floatation-therapy ~Lynne Rusk, Badge of Life Canada volunteer director 

As you know floatation therapy has shown through research to elicit a reduction in pain and stress (Bood et al, 2006). This is good news for those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  I have struggled with PTSD and Anxiety Disorder for the last ten years.  My diagnosis was a culmination of traumatic events through childhood and into my policing career where I reached my tipping point with a shooting incident.

I was eager to tryout  floatation therapy or REST (restricted environmental stimulation technique), hopeful my body would elicit the much coveted relaxation response.  It’s been understood regular practice of the Relaxation Response can be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders. I actually had a friend question if I ever relax, as they haven’t seen me ever in a relaxed state.

I realize that eliciting the relaxation response through various methods (yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, art therapy, float therapy etc.) can be an important self-management tool for those with PTSD and those comorbid conditions (depressive disorders, substance use disorders, and other anxiety disorders) that co-occur with (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD can vary greatly from one individual to another as can the comorbid conditions, so finding out what works for you is important.  You need to develop your own “tool box” so to speak, filled with the self-management and self-care tools that resonate with you.  Finding out what resources are available to you in your area and discovering what works for you are your first steps in developing your toolbox.

After slipping into the float tank, it amazed me that my body still felt the need to support itself.  As the goal of float therapy is to allow your mind to relax and your body to simply float, I found myself working on it.  Near the end of my 60 minute session, I had achieved total relaxation although a little anxious I had gone over my session time.  The 60 minutes did seem long but I’m sure after completing my initial therapy, I would be more relaxed as to what to expect the second time around.  Interestingly, my neck and shoulders were the last areas to relax.  This is where I feel chronic pain associated to my anxiety disorder on a daily basis.

I must say I felt the benefits of my session lingered on for several days afterward.  I do understand and can see how ongoing sessions on a regular basis would be helpful to those with  PTSD.  I can say that I have an overactive mind on a daily basis.  I’ll refer to this as my “monkey mind”.  I noticed a marked difference in my monkey mind’s level of activity between my drive to my session and my drive home afterwards.  The mantra that popped into mind on my drive home was “It’s a state of mind”.  Something I feel by repeating daily can help me recall or remind myself to tap into my relaxation response by recalling “that state of mind” I experienced in the floatation tank of complete physical and mental relaxation through weightlessness.  I also noticed an overall reduction in my chronic pain which lasted longer, approximately a week and a half after the float.

I have watched David Manfield’s youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wys5xCZEItA) on Floatation Therapy and PTSD.  I’m intrigued by his suggestion that someone should do a controlled study of PTDS with floatation.  He even suggests it wouldn’t take too much to do.

What a great avenue to explore when there isn’t too much cutting edge research into treatment for PTSD.  There have been 30 Canadian suicides with emergency personnel to date in 2015 due to PTSD.  Manfield even suggests a treatment paradigm which sounds quite simple to implement.  Imagine having something so simple, so holistic, contribute so greatly to the recovery of those with PTSD.  Imagine an end to the suffering and stigma.

Sincerely,  Lynne Rusk  B. Sc. (Hons), RMT, CRT, M Ht, PLT

References

Bood, Sven Å.; Sundequist, Ulf; Kjellgren, Anette; Norlander, Torsten; Nordström, Lenneart; Nordenström, Knut; Nordström, Gun

International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 13(2), May 2006, 154-175. Eliciting the relaxation response with the help of flotation-rest (restricted environmental stimulation technique) in patients with stress-related ailments.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.13.2.154