Floating for Veterans
The beneficial effects of Floating for stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD related sufferers has been well discussed, researched and documented.
Scientific Research & Personal Accounts on Floating and PTSD
Floatation Therapy has not been part of many studies on PTSD treatment up until now, with only one study(5) of one subject published in a scientific journal. In that study, a woman suffering from PTSD (along with an anxiety disorder and ADHD) underwent Floatation Therapy sessions, accompanied by in-depth interviews by scientific researchers. Her experience demonstrated, essentially, that Floating helped. The woman described feeling relief from tension and a complete sense of safety that allowed her to relax. She reported feeling more confidence, more energy, and a more positive outlook after Floating.
That’s where the scientific research specific to PTSD ends (published so far), but where personal accounts only begin. Many military veterans with PTSD have reported finding great relief in Floating. Here are just a few of their powerful testimonies:
- One young veteran interviewed by an Austin, Texas news channel described his experience as immensely helpful, saying “I was able to put in line three years of stuff that was trapped in my head…I came off of Zoloft all the way and was on no medications at all. I’m more inclined to learn, I’m more inclined to be in a positive mood.”
- Australian soldier Michael Harding, featured in Time’s 2015 article on floatation therapy, developed PTSD after spending hours under siege and witnessing the death of his second-in-command. After his medical discharge, he suffered from anxiety, sleep problems, nightmares, and emotional distress. Talk therapy, medication, and alcohol didn’t help, so when Harding’s wife found mention of floating in online forums, he tried it. As Time describes:
By three floats, Harding says his anxiety and hyper-vigilance had subsided. By three months of floating, so had his night sweats. “After floating, I was really mellowed out,” he says. “I’m not really sure how it does it, but I do know that floating has allowed me to feel in a more confident, comfortable headspace.”
Veterans are among those who benefit the most from the unique combination of benefits that Floating and sensory deprivation offer. In combination with other traditional therapies, it can be an incredible tool for unwinding the effects of PTSD and its many co-factors – such as depression and anxiety – in addition to aiding recovering from traumatic brain injuries, concussions and blast-induced neurotrauma. The large transdermal (via skin) exposure of magnesium-rich Epsom salts is also one of the most effective ways of physically de-stressing the body and helping return it to peak performance.
Many vets find the solitude of the Floating environment to be a refreshingly different and comfortable space for processing their personal thoughts and memories. The following video captures what the experience of Floating can be like for many veterans, and also contains interviews with veterans and others who use Floating to deal with PTSD, TBIs and concussions.
Veterans may be under-served by the existing institutions available to them, or the traditional solutions that are made available (typically pharmacology and psychotherapy) just don’t work for them. We also realize that veterans may find themselves in a lower economic bracket due to physical and/or psychological issues afflicting they transition back into civilian life.
We want to make Floating, as a tool, as accessible as possible, and so we offer a 25% discount on Floats to all active and retired military personnel with valid identification. This applies to not just single Floats, but also to our already discounted Packages and Frequent Float Club, resulting in what would typically be lower than an insurance co-payment.
Military1 interviewed our friends at Float Brothers in Destin, FL, a veteran-owned Float center, on how Floating is working so effectively as an alternative therapy for PTSD.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Michael A. Roberts: “Float therapy is far superior to other traditional routes, [such as] varying types of drug regiments—one way or another they just temporarily overpower your brain and cause some form of blurred reality—and explaining your situation over and over again to multiple specialists as each one gets to know you and your situation, which caused me recurring internal anxiety and agitation. I’ve tried them all. When I’m Floating, the absolute serenity and calmness is entirely therapeutic.”
Floatation Therapy 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 Floating, but perhaps no group needs that relief more than individuals suffering from PTSD.
What is PTSD?
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a tragic and sometimes debilitating disorder that can develop after an individual survives a trauma. Feeling fear and panic during a dangerous situation is normal (essentially, that is our fight-or-flight response), but PTSD develops when those agitated feelings and symptoms linger long after the trauma has passed in what is often referred to as "hypervigilance."
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
The symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating to leading a full and healthy life for some people, with symptoms including reliving the trauma during waking hours (accompanied by physical complications like sweating or a pounding heart), experiencing vivid nightmares, and having trouble sleeping. Some PTSD sufferers are constantly tense and on edge, while others become emotionally numb and lose interest in the hobbies and passions that once gave great pleasure(1).
Who Suffers From PTSD?
While the National Center for PTSD estimates that nearly half of all Americans experience trauma at some point in their lives, only 7 to 8 percent of the population will have PTSD. While veterans are perhaps the most well-known segment of the population that experiences PTSD, the disorder can also occur when an individual survives a disaster, car accident, physical or sexual assault, or even witnesses a family member or loved one experience danger, harm, or death.
Military veterans, especially those who served in combat situations, are much more likely than the general population to suffer from PTSD. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs suggest that between 11 to 20 percent of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD in a given year, while approximately 12% of Gulf War veterans experience PTSD in a given year. Studies of Vietnam veterans suggest that approximately 30% of these veterans have experienced PTSD in their lifetime.
How Floating Can Help PTSD
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 Floating can provide immense relief from the symptoms of PTSD.
Floating Relieves PTSD-Related Stress
First and foremost, floating has a proven track record of reducing stress. Especially for PTSD sufferers who experience ongoing anxiety and tenseness, an hour or two of complete quiet and calmness that cannot be experience any other way besides Floating can be an incredible relief.
Floating Alleviates Co-morbid Disorders & Symptoms
A person suffering from PTSD often develops one or more related disorders (clinically known as “co-morbid disorders”), such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse(2). Floating can provide immense and immediate relief to many of these related disorders, as well as the chronic pain that many survivors of combat wounds or physical traumas may carry with them years after the initial event.
While treating these symptoms is not precisely the same as treating PTSD, an individual who feels less pain, gets a good night of sleep, and is able to curb unhealthy smoking or drinking habits is very likely to feel better overall—and be better equipped to confront and deal with the trauma behind their PTSD.
Floating Enhances Meditation, a Complementary PTSD Therapy
Finally, Floating can enhance one of the most promising alternative treatments for PTSD: meditation. Multiple studies(3,4) have shown that meditation practice combined with traditional therapy can improve the severity of PTSD symptoms—and there is a growing body of research that indicates time Floating makes meditation more accessible and effective for its practitioners.
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- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health, last revised February 2016.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Ronald C. Kessler, PhD; Amanda Sonnega, PhD; Evelyn Bromet, PhD; Michael Hughes, PhD; Christopher B. Nelson, MPH, PhD. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1995.
- Transcendental Meditation in the Treatment of Post-Vietnam Adjustment. James S. Brooks, Thomas Scarano. Journal of Counseling & Development, November 1985.
- Meditation-based mantram intervention for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized trial. Jill E. Bormann; Steven R. Thorp; Julie L. Wetherell; Shahrokh Golshan; Ariel J. Lang. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, May 2013.
- Quality of life with flotation therapy for a person diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, atypical autism, PTSD, anxiety and depression. Anette Kjellgren, Hanna Edebol, Tommy Nordén, Torsten Norlander. Open Journal of Medical Psychology, 2013.