Can Hyperbaric Therapy Help With Anxiety?

Anxiety. At its best it can ruin a day, at its worst it can make us seriously ill. Around a decade ago, 8.2 million cases of anxiety were reported in the UK, and since lockdown, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) claims that those figures have soared. So, when you’ve tried everything, is there anything else that can help?

What Is Anxiety, And How Is It Treated?

 Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes, but all anxious experiences share the same underlying theme: an inability to feel relaxed. This makes some people feel nauseous, gives some headaches and migraines, manifests as eating disorders in others, and can lead to life-crippling problems such as not being able to concentrate, work, or leave the house. Clinicians tend to offer pharmacological treatments, but the litany of side effects mean that many people prefer to treat anxiety with meditation, exercise, and nutrition. However, as anyone with anxiety knows, these methods are not always the magic cocktail that is required.

How May Hyperbaric Therapy Help With Anxiety?

Hyperbaric therapy is a method of increasing the levels of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen is a crucial component of the body’s healing process, so hyperbaric therapy has reportedly beneficial effects on a wide range of conditions. Aside from the purely physiological effects of hyperbaric therapy, it is starting to be widely used to help with anxiety. This is largely because the hyperbaric process is highly relaxing and reassuring, and because increased oxygen concentrations in the blood can create a very calming, uplifting feeling.

Why Is Relaxation Crucial For Anxiety?

Anxiety increases the stress hormone cortisol. Whilst cortisol is the vital mechanism that enables life-saving fight or flight responses, its continued elevation has a range of negative physiological impacts. These include muscle tension, blood-pressure changes, and cardiovascular stress. A body flooded with cortisol will also find sleep challenging, meaning that it can’t undertake the necessary repairs. As such, stress is linked to a range of conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A gradual decline in physical health also tends to increase stress, leading to a vicious cycle of anxiety increases. As such, all methods of treating anxiety are based upon finding ways of making a person feel relaxed enough that dangerous cortisol levels are normalised.

Will Hyperbaric Therapy Work For Me?

If you have anxiety, the first port of call should always be your GP. There are also a multitude of helpful online resources, such as guided meditation, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioural therapy guides. These are all recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), and are considered proactive ways to tackle anxiety. However, if you’ve tried all of these and are still struggling, it might be that a soothing rest in an oxygen bath is the answer. It certainly is for Keanu Reeves, who finds that it treats his anxiety-induced insomnia so well that he brings his portable hyperbaric chamber on set so that he can cope with the stress of filming. Everybody is different, but nobody deserves to suffer, so if a big dose of relaxation is what you need, hyperbarics might be worth a try.

What Next?

A life free from anxiety might sound like an impossible dream, but a proactive approach to mental health can work wonders. To learn more, have a chat with one of our hyperbaric advisers today.