Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) for Anxiety and Depression

L

Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR)

Status

Active, not recruiting

Conditions

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
Panic Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Agoraphobia
Social Anxiety Disorder

Treatments

Behavioral: Float pool
Behavioral: Float chair

Study type

Interventional

Funder types

Other
NIH

Identifiers

NCT03899090
Float R34
R34AT009889 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility

About

This early-stage trial aims to examine the feasibility, tolerability, and safety of Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) or an active comparison condition in 75 participants with clinical anxiety and depression.

Full description

Anxiety and depression are the two most common psychiatric conditions, affecting over a quarter of the population, and representing the leading cause of disability, worldwide. More than three-quarters of patients never receive treatment, and recent meta-analyses and large-scale clinical trials suggest that only about half of patients improve with treatment, with substantially poorer outcomes and adherence in patients with comorbid anxiety and depression. Given the insufficient treatment response and adherence to currently available therapies, it is important to explore novel ways of helping patients with anxiety and depression. Floatation-REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) is a relatively unexplored mind-body intervention for naturally reducing physiological stress by attenuating exteroceptive sensory input to the nervous system through the act of floating supine in a pool of water saturated with Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). Over the past decade, floating has witnessed a rapid rise in popularity, with hundreds of recreational float centers opening across America. Despite the surge in public interest and consumption, there has been little research investigation Floatation-REST, especially in clinical populations. The investigators recently completed several pilot studies in patients with comorbid anxiety and depression showing that a single float session was capable of inducing a large short-term anxiolytic and antidepressant response accompanied by a substantial improvement in mood and subjective well-being. This proposal aims to follow-up on these promising preliminary findings by investigating the feasibility, tolerability, and safety of undergoing multiple sessions of Floatation-REST or an active comparison condition in 75 participants with clinical anxiety and depression. A subset of these participants will have the opportunity to select their preference with regard to float duration and frequency, providing important information for optimizing the "dose" in future trials. Since this study is aimed at examining feasibility, tolerability, and safety, the primary endpoint is adherence (as a proxy of feasibility), and the secondary outcome measures are dropout rate (as a proxy for tolerability) and adverse effects (as a proxy for safety). An exploratory aim examines the magnitude and duration of the anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of Floatation-REST at both short-term (up to 48 hours) and long-term (up to 6 months) intervals, providing an initial indication for whether any beneficial effects are sustained beyond the float experience. The results of this early phase clinical trials will help optimize the design of a future efficacy study exploring the long-term effects of Floatation-REST.

Enrollment

75 patients

Sex

All

Ages

18 to 60 years old

Volunteers

No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  1. High level of acute anxiety (OASIS score ≥ 6)
  2. High anxiety sensitivity (ASI-3 total score ≥ 24)
  3. If taking medication or receiving psychotherapy, must be stably undergoing treatment prior to participation (defined as having taken the medication or been in therapy for 8 weeks or longer). If taking a benzodiazepine or opioid, must be willing to abstain within 24 hours of a float session (daily users will be excluded from the study).
  4. No prior Floatation-REST experience or a minimum of 1 year since previous float session
  5. Seeking treatment for their anxiety/depression and willing to complete the study

Exclusion criteria

  1. History of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorders
  2. Current Eating Disorder (anorexia/bulimia nervosa)
  3. Current Substance Use Disorder ≥ moderate. Tobacco and Caffeine Use is allowed. Must be willing to abstain from all other substances within 24 hours of a float session.
  4. Active suicidality with plan/intent
  5. History of a neurological condition (e.g., epilepsy) or any other medical condition that could interfere with the protocol
  6. Any skin conditions or open wounds that could cause pain when exposed to saltwater
  7. Uncomfortable being in water
  8. Positive pregnancy test
  9. Acutely intoxicated day of floating (determined via positive urine drug screen or breathalyzer)

Trial design

Primary purpose

Treatment

Allocation

Randomized

Interventional model

Parallel Assignment

Masking

Double Blind

75 participants in 3 patient groups

Float Pool
Experimental group
Description:
Floating supine in a pool for a prescribed amount of time (6 total sessions, 1 hour/session, 1 session/week)
Treatment:
Behavioral: Float pool
Float Chair
Active Comparator group
Description:
Floating supine in a zero-gravity chair for a prescribed amount of time (6 total sessions, 1 hour/session, 1 session/week)
Treatment:
Behavioral: Float chair
Float Pool Preferred
Experimental group
Description:
Floating supine in a pool for a preferred amount of time (6 total sessions, up to 2 hours/session, as frequently as they prefer within a 12-week period with a minimum of 24 hours between sessions)
Treatment:
Behavioral: Float pool

Trial contacts and locations

1

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Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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