Specifically, weighted blankets have been found to be incredibly effective, and the treatment therapy relies heavily on something called ‘deep pressure touch stimulation’ (DPTS).
Mental health conditions are some of the worst chronic conditions a person will ever have to deal with. And one of the biggest downsides to having a mental illness or a declining mental health in general is the fact that many of the treatment options include pharmaceutical drugs, something that less and less people are wanting to use.
Oddly enough, it is some of the simplest methods of treatment that have shown the most promise when it comes to making the symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, stress, and insomnia disappear or lessen. Specifically, weighted blankets have been found to be incredibly effective, and the treatment therapy relies heavily on something called ‘deep pressure touch stimulation’ (DPTS).
DPTS is similar to a massage in that it applies a certain amount of pressure to large areas of the body. When this pressure is applied, it helps to create positive feelings both physically and psychologically. “[DPTS] is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling,” says Temple Grandin, Ph.D..
Whereas light touching can be a cause for concern for the nervous system, heavy pressure promotes relaxation and calmness.
Anxiety related to autism and the effects of deep pressure were focused on during one study that used Temple Grandin’s ‘Hug Machine’ device to apply lateral pressure across a subject’s body. What they found was a “significant reduction in tension and a marginally significant reduction in anxiety for children who received the deep pressure compared with the children who did not.”
Weighted blankets are used fairly often by occupational therapists hoping to better the lives of patients suffering from sensory disorders, anxiety, stress and issues related to autism. Occupational therapist Karen Moore says “weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control.”
A 2008 study published in *Occupational Therapy in Mental Health* found that weighted blankets helped reduce anxiety in patients and a 2012 study published in *Australasian Psychiatry* found the same thing.
Think you want to try one out?
A simple Google search will net you plenty of results for purchasing your own weighted blanket. But first, it’s a good idea to research exactly what you need--this includes speaking with a doctor or occupational therapist. Typically, adult-sized weighted blankets will range from 15 to 30 pounds.
It is also important to remember that anyone who suffers from respiratory, circulatory or temperature regulation problems should not use weighted blankets unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional.
Otherwise, weighted blankets might just be the answer you are looking for!