What does Floating have to do with improving mental health? Well, for lots of folks, including those involved in clinical trials, the link may be stronger than you’d expect. Currently, the top researcher in the field of studying the therapeutic benefits of Sensory Deprivation Floating is Neuroscientist Dr. Justin Feinstein, who founded what is known as the “Float Research Collective”.
In his studies, Dr. Feinstein has focused on reducing anxiety symptoms, and has seen improvement across the board, in conditions including PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and more. “The magnitude of anxiety reduction was not trivial either”, Feinstein recently pointed out, “as we found very large effect sizes and an average 14-point drop on the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory”. This research has all been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The mission of the Float Research Collective is “to establish worldwide acceptance for Floatation-REST* as a treatment to naturally relieve pain, stress, anxiety and other related conditions”.
In one earlier study done with the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, one group of individuals received an hour of Floating, while the control group were placed in private rooms in relaxing chairs and watched nature documentaries. The data showed a significant decrease in stress levels, measured biometrically with blood pressure, in the Float group as compared to the control group. This is huge, as previous studies only measured Qualitative data, which is considered in the Scientific community to be a lot less concrete and reliable than Quantitative data such as biometrics.
From an experiential standpoint, here at A Place to Float we see folks every single day walk in our facility feeling grumpy, anxious, stressed, jumpy, etc, and watch them leave feeling calm and relaxed, often communicating that to us directly. It’s really what makes this job rewarding.
“Our society is in the midst of the worst mental health crisis of our generation; record levels of stress and anxiety permeate our population and the epidemic of addiction only grows as people struggle to find better ways to cope. Yet, hidden beneath this absolute mess lies a secret that only few know… a therapy that does not require any drugs, or have any major side effects, yet within an hour can dramatically reduce levels of pain, stress, and anxiety (with effects often lasting for over 48 hours). As I’ve discussed in many presentations, the effects of floating are profound, but unfortunately the people who need it the most are unable to access the therapy”, Dr. Feinstein states. He, along with so many others involved with Floating, wants to change this. He wants to work towards making Floatation REST therapy accessible for all, and hopes that more funding and research will help his cause of getting the Medical field at large to recognize the therapeutic value of this practice.
Feinstein poses one big question that relates to his next goals in Float research – “What if floating could provide a safe and effective way for people across society to reduce their anxiety and pain, without the side effects, and importantly, without the addiction?” Upcoming research will include clinical trials directly comparing the effects of Floating versus Benzodiazepines and Opioids, two highly addictive pharmaceuticals often prescribed for short term anxiety. Is it possible that for some who take these medications, relief is possible without all the negative side effects? Stay tuned as research develops to find out.
Clinical trials have shown repeatedly that Sensory Deprivation Floating lowers cortisol levels (bottoming out the body’s primary stress hormone and deactivating Fight or Flight response), as well as Blood Pressure, a biometric directly related to stress levels. It’s incredibly exciting to imagine what the future holds for Floatation REST Therapy as it relates to improving mental health.
*Floatation-REST is the term for Sensory Deprivation Floating used specifically by researchers in the Scientific Community.