Many of the nation’s veterans struggle with the psychological toll of serving their country. In fact, up to 20 percent of veterans who serve in active conflict are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a rate that is much higher than in the general population. They may experience disruptions of sleep, nightmares, and more as a result of PTSD symptoms.
It is beneficial to take a holistic approach when dealing with such complex psychological trauma. While talk therapy and properly prescribed medications can be helpful to alleviate symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder, there are other alternatives that can also help and may be an important part of a well-rounded treatment plan for PTSD.
Float therapy is a type of holistic treatment that can help regulate the parasympathetic nervous system naturally without the use of medication or more invasive procedures. Float therapy is a well-accepted holistic practice that can substantially enhance a patient’s quality of life.
What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
While float tanks are not a cure-all for posttraumatic stress disorder, they can be a vital component of a veteran’s overall treatment plan. PTSD is a debilitating mental disorder that is characterized by a wide variety of symptoms including:
- Hypervigilance of surroundings
- Inability to find pleasure in once treasured hobbies
- Loneliness even when around others
- Inability to sleep due to insomnia or frequent nightmares
- Emotional detachment and a tendency to withdrawal
- Unwanted and intrusive thoughts While all cases of posttraumatic stress disorder feature several of these symptoms, no two cases are ever alike. Comprehensive treatment typically involves some combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), pharmacological intervention (if necessary), and holistic treatments such as yoga, meditation, and float therapy. What Are the Benefits of Float Therapy?
There are many physical and psychological benefits associated with float therapy. Research has show that float therapy helps:
- Reduce blood pressure associated with posttraumatic stress disorder
- Alleviates insomnia and helps the client achieve a more restful night’s sleep
- Decreases muscle tension and helps the client achieve total body relaxation
- Reduces the amount of cortisol being produced in the body According to Dr. Josh Hagen with the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University, research has indicated that veterans may be able to find effective and natural relief from their PTSD symptoms by floating in a float tank. Sensory deprivation allows them to quiet their mind, slow their heart rate, and achieve a state of homeostasis. This is especially beneficial for veterans who are diagnosed with moderate forms of posttraumatic stress disorder.
How Does Float Therapy Work?
During a float therapy session a person enters the room where the float tank is located. After removing their clothes they enter the tank which has been filled with about ten inches of water and several hundred pounds of Epsom salts. When the user lies down they will feel as though they are floating, therefore achieving total body relaxation. A typical session lasts for about sixty minutes, after which they can shower and get dressed.
Veterans who have bravely served their countries deserve comprehensive care and treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. By incorporating float therapy in to their treatment plan they are better able to eliminate intrusive symptoms and enhance their overall quality of life.