Can floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) provide insulation against depression? There’s a reason why so many people turn to the tank for a mental reset. In fact, some researchers are confident that floating tamps down anxiety in the brain in a way that rivals some prescription drugs and meditation. The likely explanation for why floating does what other forms of “relaxation” can’t is that floating with sensory deprivation turns off the part of the brain called the amygdala that houses our fight-or-flight stress response.
According to a 2018 study, just one hour of flotation-REST was able to reduce depression levels substantially. In addition, a one-hour session also helped to decrease anxiety levels, muscle tension, pain, and negative affect. Participants also saw improvements in happiness, serenity, relaxation, and overall well-being. This research has caused many mental health practitioners to consider floatation-REST a viable option for short-term relief of depression.
As many people suffering from depression know, anxiety and stress often accompany depression symptoms. That’s why this 2018 study involving 50 participants with a cross-spectrum of anxiety and stress-related disorders is so interesting. Researchers conducting this study discovered that floatation REST appears to be a “promising technique for transiently reducing the suffering of those with anxiety and depression.” While this particular study focused on the short-term mental health benefits of floating, other studies show that it can help over the long term, as well.
A study from 2014 found that floatation therapy was powerful enough to help restore the quality of life for people suffering from pain, anxiety, stress, and depression. What’s more, many patients involved in the study were not new to alternative therapies for depression. In fact, participants who had tried yoga, massage, and physiotherapy reported never being “so successfully relieved” from pain, tension, and stress using any other treatment.
There’s still so much to be revealed about depression and floating. It’s too soon to say that floating alone can be used to fully treat depression in all people. However, the people who have already experienced the results feel that they have discovered a way to reduce depression by working with the brain instead of fighting against it.