Floatation therapy or float therapy is becoming an increasingly popular treatment among veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is an alternative treatment used for a variety of mental and physical conditions.
In floatation therapy, the patient rests in a small tank or pool filled with ten inches of water mixed with a half-ton of Epsom salt, more formally known as magnesium sulfate. The high concentration of salt lets the patient float. The water is kept at a temperature of 94.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pool itself sits in a sensory-deprivation chamber, which is a dark and soundless room. The lack of stimuli in the chamber allows the patient to meditate, and it enables their mind to enter the Theta state, the frequency achieved by the brain right before it enters deep sleep.
Floatation therapy thus works by cutting patients off from distracting stimuli and providing them with a safe environment where they can relax and possibly work through their trauma.
Trey Hearn, an Air Force veteran, is a big believer in floatation therapy. In fact, he and his brother Chris established a float spa called Float Brothers in Destin, Florida. In an interview, Trey Hearn described floatation therapy as an “internal counseling session.”
Float Brothers offers free treatment sessions to active duty personnel and veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD. Some of the brothers’ clients have credited floatation therapy with such benefits as improved sleep or decreased need for anti-anxiety medication.
Another veteran, Wesley Hernadez, has been undergoing floatation therapy in Nashville, Tennessee, since this past June. He called it an escape from “the stress and the drama” and admitted that he didn’t want to leave the water after the end of his last session. His wife and caregiver, Leah, has said that floatation therapy is the best therapy that they have yet tried.
In 2014, the science journal “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” published a study in which researchers evaluated the benefits of floatation therapy. The scientists worked with 65 volunteers. They divided them into a control group and a group who underwent 12 floatation sessions over a seven-week period. The participants who underwent floatation therapy reported a decrease in pain, anxiety, depression, and stress along with improved sleep and greater optimism. The control group reported no changes.