Free Float Therapy Treatments to Alleviate PTSD in Vets

This practice that is proven to reduce PTSD, anxiety, and muscular pain.

Sep 15, 2019

Floating can be very relaxing activity. Whether you are floating on a raft in a swimming pool or floating in the Dead Sea, the sensation of being on the water can calm the most restless spirit.

Now, veterans across the US are finding comfort from their PTSD symptoms and pain through an alternative treatment called flotation therapy.

Float therapy has been around since the 1970’s but has recently gained attention and popularity as an effective method to increase emotional and physical wellbeing. The treatment uses the power of floating to foster a calming experience that is proven to relieve psychological distress, such as PTSD, panic disorder, and depression, as well as muscle tension, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. 

For this reason, the Weightless Warrior program has provided free treatments to over 3,000 US veterans and military members since 2015. True REST Float Spa, a participating member, recently announced that they will celebrate military appreciation day on the 11th of every month by offering free 60-minute sessions to veterans and active-duty military members. 

Veteran Kris Kitchens attests to the impact of float therapy on his life. He told AZ Family TV, “The way my pain decreased from float one to float six was more substantial than any pharmaceuticals that the VA could’ve given me in order to manage my pain. I like the fact that I’m not taking medication anymore. I found it's the biggest benefit of all.” 

Also known as sensory deprivation chambers, float therapy is designed to quiet the physical senses, enabling the mind to enter the theta state- a frequency that the brain experiences right before falling into a deep sleep. The theta state is associated with creativity, learning, intuition, and the subconscious. 

The participants lay in a small pool with 10 inches of saltwater that is heated to 94.2 fahrenheit  (33.3 celsius) The high levels of salt act like the Dead Sea by counteracting the effects of gravity and allowing the patient to float on the top.  

Furthermore, floating itself tends to move our hormonal system away from “flight or fight” mode (which triggers feelings of pain) and into “rest and recovery” mode- which is why many refer to the treatment as deeply meditative. A 2014 study also showed that in addition to a reduction in stress, blood pressure, and physical pain, people who underwent float therapy showed an increase in optimism and sleep quality. 

In a refreshing and exciting addition, the US House of Representatives passed the Whole Veteran Act (H.R. 2359) in May 2019. If approved by the Senate, the bill would encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate alternative healing practices, with the eventual goal of offering holistic methods (such as yoga and acupuncture) alongside conventional treatment. 

By providing veterans with alternative healing practices, such as float therapy, the government and health providers can facilitate meaningful and long-lasting recovery for our brave veterans  suffering from PTSD and other emotional and physical conditions. 

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.