Sensory Isolation Floating for Depression

What is the promise of sensory isolation floating for depression? If there’s something there, it would mean a lot. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.6% of adults suffer from depression, and 10.4% of physician office visits result in a notation of depression on the medical record. That’s a lot more depression than I would have expected. 

Blues or Depression?

We all feel sad or despondent from time to time. It’s known as feeling “blue,” and it can happen as a result of an event. such as a breakup or job loss, or for no discernible reason at all. Most of the time, the feeling lasts for a day or so, then we shake it off and get on with things. But sometimes it hangs on. There’s a sense of hopelessness, an absence of motivation, a failure to care about things that once engaged us. If it persists for two weeks or more, it may be time to reclassify the feeling. Two weeks of persistent sadness and hopelessness seems to be the dividing line, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) page on depression, between a blue mood and clinical depression.

The NIMH page on depression also provides a list of symptoms and signs of depression, and it’s long. There are 13 things on there, some expected (a feeling of helplessness, decreased energy, loss of pleasure in activities) and some unexpected (irritability, digestive problems, restless feelings). I won’t list them all here, but I suggest you follow the link and have a look at them, particularly if you’re subject to moodiness. If you notice any of these signs in yourself, and they persist for two weeks, get yourself to a doctor because there are a lot of treatment options for depression. You may not need to suffer with it and its interference in your life.

Turn Your Mood Around…

I don’t know how often ordinary, garden-variety moodiness turns into depression. But if you have a way to turn a depressed mood around, it’s probably a good idea. And that’s where sensory isolation floating comes in.

A 2014 study reported in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a peer-reviewed journal, found that sensory isolation in a flotation tank significantly reduced stress, depression, anxiety, and even physical pain in a group of adult volunteers. Furthermore, these same people reported an increase in optimism and sleep quality. My reading of the study is that it was well-controlled and precise. The floaters had 12 45-minute float sessions over the course of 7 weeks (about two per week).

…To Prevent Depression

The most interesting thing about the study is that it was not designed to address clinical depression. It was specifically a study to determine the effects of isolation floating on healthy participants. For this reason, I think it suggests isolation floating can be a depression prevention strategy. I suspect that the best way to fight serious depression is to avoid it to begin with. It seems that isolation floating can help with that.

Book some float pod sessions at Peak Recovery & Health Center and find out for yourself how well isolation floating can help you control your mood.

Image: “alone” by ermadz x. Creative Commons license.