Sensory Deprivation Tanks Offer New Hope for Anorexia Patients

Sensory Deprivation Tanks Offer New Hope for Anorexia Patients

Float therapy, a tranquil voyage of self-discovery, significantly decreases anxiety and depression, which unlocks a new era in mental and physical health treatments.

News Published 2024.03.01 | Shine Lee

(Photo=New York Times)

The recent study has unveiled that sensory deprivation tanks, also known as float therapy, may represent a groundbreaking treatment for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa. These tanks are meticulously designed to create lightproof, soundproof, and temperature-controlled environments where users float in water saturated with Epsom salts, providing a distinctive form of reduced environmental stimulation therapy.


The study, conducted by the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in the United States, involved 68 women and girls undergoing treatment for anorexia nervosa. Participants who underwent float therapy sessions reported significant reductions in body dissatisfaction and anxiety levels, outcomes not observed in participants receiving usual care alone.

The research suggests that sensory deprivation tanks could serve as an effective supplementary treatment for anorexia nervosa, particularly in addressing body image disturbance and anxiety, which are often resistant to traditional anxiolytic medications. This suggests a promising new direction for enhancing the treatment of a disorder known for its challenging prognosis.

(Photo=News Medical)

“This breakthrough offers a new therapeutic direction in treating anorexia nervosa, a psychiatric disorder known for its challenging prognosis and high mortality rate,” noted psychiatrist Sahib Khalsa, MD, Ph.D., the study's senior author. He highlighted the potential of the therapy to treat anorexia nervosa patients suffering from anxiety non-pharmacologically. Emily Choquette, the study's co-first author, also added, “These findings also make way for new forms of treatment for eating disorders which, in conjunction with traditional treatments, may help to alleviate diagnostic features of anorexia nervosa that are more difficult to treat, such as body image.” She called for more studies to explore float therapy in conjunction with conventional eating disorder psychotherapies.

Sensory deprivation tanks are innovative treatment modalities for eating disorders, offering hope for more effective management of anorexia nervosa's complex symptoms. As research continues, this could become an essential part of a comprehensive approach to treatment, which aims to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

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