While the consumption of antidepressants and anxiolytics continues to break new records every year – 1 in 4 French people are said to have used them last year – and the theme of “mental health” is becoming an issue for society (or even civilisation?), research is increasingly interested in non-medicinal methods of treating these pathologies.
Research in turmoil
Floating in sensory isolation is obviously one of them. Among the disciplines suspected of having beneficial curative effects on mental health, it has long suffered from a lack of serious studies on the subject. This is now less and less true, especially since the creation of several research groups dedicated to the study of float therapy. The number of clinical tests is increasing.
This is the case of this recent study, entitled ‘Examining the short-term anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of Floatation-REST’ and conducted by Dr Feinstein.
The aim of the study was to examine whether floating in sensory deprivation reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression in a clinical sample.
Fifty participants were recruited from a range of anxiety and stress-related disorders (post-traumatic stress, generalized anxiety, panic, agoraphobia and social disorders, anxiety), most of whom were suffering from depression.
Self-report measures were collected immediately before and after a one-hour float session. The main outcome measure was the change in score before and after floating on Rosenberg’s State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), which measures a subject’s anxiety level across 40 items.
What did the study reveal?
The results are edifying.
Regardless of the patient’s mental health status prior to the experiment, flotation significantly reduced anxiety in the study subjects, as measured by the STAI scale (see graph below)
In addition, participants reported significant reductions in stress levels, muscle tension, pain, depression, accompanied by improved mood, increased serenity, relaxation, happiness and overall sense of well-being (see graph below)
The results were even clearer among the highly anxious sample, who reported the greatest benefits.
The researchers suggest that “float therapy is a promising technique for transiently reducing suffering in people with anxiety and depression”.
The full study is available here for the brave ones
Have a nice float!