Weighted Blankets for Adults with Anxiety
Anxiety is the number one mental health condition among American adults. Although the National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 18% of adults in the US have an anxiety disorder, it is widely believed that the actual percentage is closer to 30%. This is due to the fact that many anxiety sufferers do not seek professional help or report their anxiety to a doctor. Successfully managing anxiety is an ongoing challenge. Adding a weighted blanket to your anxiety fighting arsenal is an option anyone with anxiety should explore.
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are constructed of soft blanket material and quilted sections filled with plastic pellets and polyfill. These pellets add evenly distributed weight to the user harnessing the therapeutic power of Deep Pressure Touch (DPT). DPT works to calm the nervous system by administering a firm touch equally across the body.
When your nervous system is over excited you are operating in your sympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for the "fight or flight" reaction to stress. DPT activates your bodyís parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for "rest and digest" following a stressful experience. Cortisol levels decrease and serotonin levels increase. The result is a more relaxed and calm state of mind.
The benefits of DPT are behind the time honored tradition of swaddling infants to soothe them to sleep and the wildly successful Thundershirt that eases dog anxiety by wrapping them up tight. A weighted blanket is a comfortable, easy way to self administer DPT during times of heightened anxiety.
Anxiety Symptoms Relieved by a Weighted Blanket
Anxiety symptoms vary by individual but there are some common ones that most people with anxiety feel to some degree or another. Anxiety can take the form of worry. With good reason, we all worry about things from time to time. Those of us with anxiety feel worried about things for no good reason. Things that most people would consider "no big deal" are a really big deal to those with anxiety.
This constant worry makes it hard to concentrate and accomplish everyday tasks. This inability to focus is another common symptom. Anxiety often goes hand in hand with insomnia, too. You canít sleep because you are worried and overstimulated. You worry and become overstimulated because you canít sleep. Itís a vicious cycle.
Another close companion of anxiety is muscle tension. This is another example of a cycle and professionals are not clear on which comes first, the anxiety or the tension. Muscle tension leads to pain. The ongoing pain of tense muscles can feed irritability and make it harder to get through a productive day.
Fatigue is common in people with anxiety. With insomnia, muscle tension, and constant worry on the shoulders of those with anxiety, it is no wonder fatigue shortly follows. For anyone who experiences any combination of these symptoms, a weighted blanket can provide much needed relief.
Weighted blankets calm the body and the mind. A pilot study tested the efficacy of using a comfort room equipped with a weighted blanket on reducing anxiety on psychiatric patients. They found that the weighted blankets were "particularly useful" at lowering clinician rated anxiety. Another study showed that using a weighted blanket helped insomnia sufferers sleep better. Objectively, the participants had less movements and less frequent wakings. Subjectively, they felt like they slept more securely and comfortably. Weighted blankets are an excellent addition to any anti-anxiety toolbox.
How does a weighted blanket compare to other treatment options?
Anxiety disorders are often treated with a combination of medication and cognitive behavior therapy. There are many drawbacks to prescription anti-anxiety medications that many people simply canít swallow. Headache, sexual dysfunction, nausea, dizziness, and insomnia are documented side effects. For those who cannot tolerate these side effects or just want to try natural remedies, a weighted blanket is an excellent choice. Of course, you and your health care professional will come up with a treatment plan that is right for you that may include pharmaceuticals. A weighted blanket can complement that approach as well.
Choosing the Best Weighted Blanket for You
The most important decision when choosing a weighted blanket is the weight itself. Weighted blankets for adults range from 7-25 pounds. It is typically recommended that adults use a weighted blanket that weighs 10% of their ideal body weight. For example, an adult weighing 200 pounds would use a 20 pound weighted blanket. This formula works for many people but if you are seeing a professional for support with your anxiety, consult with them about what weight is recommended before placing an order. Some weighted blankets are custom made to order so youíll want to ensure youíve requested the appropriate weight.
You will want to consider how you will be using the weighted blanket. If you plan to sleep under it most nights you will want to get one big enough to cover your entire body or even your entire bed. Some people only use their blanket over their legs or around their shoulders while still more find it comforting to simply lay one across their lap. In these cases, a smaller blanket will suit your needs perfectly.
Relief of common anxiety symptoms is ready and waiting to wrap itself around you. If you suffer from anxiety, give a weighted blanket a try and see how deep pressure touch can calm and soothe a stimulated mind.