What do first aiders do for their mental health?
We've heard far too many stories of EMT's, paramedics, fire fighters, and police involved in extremely traumatic events. It's part of their job. But, all too often, it becomes part of their psyches. Memories haunt them. These traumas often repeat themselves inside their heads and hearts and nervous systems for years, like a bad echo that keeps looping.
What to do? Talk therapy helps some. Others pursue vigorous exercise as an outlet. Still others seek prescriptions to calm their chronic anxieties. Those are a few of the ways people cope.
Many of us know of others who finally resort to far more extreme measures, including suicide. The data is very clear about that.
For some, flotation therapy has made all the difference.
We'd like to offer two dramatic stories about what floating has done for the mental health of PTSD survivors.
Anxiety, Hyper-Vigilance and Night Sweats
In 2015 TIME Magazine published a ground-breaking story on how floating became a treatment of last resort for an Australian veteran of the Afghanistan war who had PTSD. His name is Michael Harding.
Here's what TIME Magazine's reported about the soldier's experience of floating:
“To me, it seemed like a sham,” Harding says. But in March last year, he decided to try it anyway. He fell asleep in the tank, he says, and woke up an hour later feeling refreshed. 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.”
Michael Harding knew floating worked for him. He just didn't know how.
You can read the rest of the TIME report here.
Float Therapy vs Anti-Anxiety Meds
On August 1 of 2014, TV station WKRC in Austin, Texas reported on another U.S. Army veteran with PTSD, Cody Austell. It's an astounding story.
Cody was on 12 different anti-anxiety meds. He walked around like a ghost. His friends didn't know where the real Cody--their friend--has disappeared to. He was a shell of himself.
Once again, float therapy came to the rescue. Cody's first float was amazing. Soon enough, he got off all of his meds. He recruited 2 other vets with PTSD to try float therapy, and they, too, loved it.
You can listen to Cody's story here.
Dr. Justin Feinstein is a Clinical Neuropsychologist. He is the Director of the LIBR Float Clinic and Research Center and a Principal Investigator at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.
Over the past year, Dr. Feinstein has been peering into the brains of people who float. What he found is fascinating.
On August 20, 2016, neuroscientist Dr. Justin Feinstein revealed results of a key study on floating about to be published. You can see Dr Feinstein unveil his ground-breaking research here. (We'll let you know when it's published.)
In summary, Feinstein has been using fMRI's on both a control group and a test group (of floaters) to see just what it is that floating does to reduce our anxieties. His team's research confirms that floating alters our brains to reduce stress significantly, just like anti-anxiety medicine. (But floating does not have the anti-anxiety medicine's highly addictive qualities.)
Floating can do really good things to your brain.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So, does floating work for everybody with severe mental health issues? Of course not!
Floating is not a panacea. But neuroscience and the testimony of many show us that floating is a viable option.
Next up for Dr. Feinstein's research team: studying the effects of floating specifically on 3 groups of patients: those with PTSD, anorexia nervosa, and high anxiety. We can't wait to see what neuroscience finds!
If you know a front-line worker suffering the mental effects of trauma, tell them about floating. Share this blog.