Written by Dr. Nicole M. Vienna

March 1, 2019

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Dive GuardiansThe therapeutic effects of scuba diving: Decreasing post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety in First Responders.

It is no surprise that first responders have one of the most stressful careers on the planet. They are exposed to exponential amounts of traumatic events on a daily basis, let alone throughout their career. However, the human brain is not designed to handle daily trauma over and over again without any reprieve. The brain and nervous system need a way to process this stress.

There have been several studies that have shown the physical and mental benefits of Scuba Diving. The effects of water have been proven to help with such injuries. Sunlight has shown to help decrease psychological symptoms. Furthermore, diving teaches and incorporates techniques such as mindfulness and meditation which have shown to help with emotional regulation of PTSD and other psychological injuries.

We have partnered with dive guardians to conduct such a study right here in local Southern California. Our team at Vienna Psychological Group, Inc. attends the orientation class of each cohort to administer symptom inventories to measure pre-scuba diving post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression levels. These inventories are again administered at the completion of the certification class, and 30, 90, and 180 days post completion. Individual interviews with first responders are conducted along the way to gather their feedback regarding the strengths and limitations of the program.

Dive Guardians is a first responder owned non-profit 501(c)(3). They provide an opportunity to first responders who have been in traumatic events to experience SCUBA diving. Each first responder attends a few hours of classroom instruction, pool practice dives, and eventually open water dives. The first responder will ultimately receive a PADI Open Water Diver certification. If you are interested in sponsoring a first responder or are a first responder and want to apply, please visit www.diveguardians.org or call (833) DIVE 911.

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