Do Weighted Blankets help treat Anxiety Symptoms?

Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the US alone. With the stresses of a modern lifestyle, that number is rising at an alarming rate.

Factors ranging from genetics to medical conditions predisposition you for an anxiety disorder. But it doesn’t stop there. Stressors from work, school, and finances also have a huge effect on your emotional and mental wellbeing.

For those of you who suffer from anxiety understand that it takes its toll on your daily life.

For years, occupational therapists have been using weighted blankets as a natural therapeutic tool. The added weighted of the blanket calms the body’s “fight or flight” response. This not only combats anxiety symptoms but promotes a more restful sleep.

How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
To understand how weighted blankets work, we need to first understand the nervous system.

The nervous system is a complex network of nerves that carry messages to the brain. It can be broken down into different categories, one of which is the Automatic Nervous System (ANS).

This system controls unconscious actions, such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate. The ANS can be further broken down to the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS).

The SNS is the body’s “fight or flight” response, while the PSNS is the exact opposite. It calms the body by decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Research shows that evenly distributing weight across the body compresses the nervous stem. This Deep Pressure Therapy actually reduces SNS activity, while increasing PSNS activity.

Not only does Deep Pressure Therapy calm the body, but it calms the mind as well. Researchers found that serotonin increased by 28% and dopamine increased by 31%. These “happy hormones” have a direct and positive effect on mood and behavior.

People who suffer from anxiety know that it is almost impossible to fall asleep. Increased levels of serotonin gives your mind a rest before bedtime.

Serotonin is also used in the production of melatonin. This hormone tells the body when it is time to go to sleep. When melatonin production is high, sleep is deeper and more restful. Researchers also found that the stress hormone, cortisol, decreased by 31%.
When cortisol levels are high, it triggers a “fight or flight” response. Levels are supposed to go back down to normal once the body no longer needs to be alert.

But if you suffer from anxiety, you know that your body is always in a “fight or flight” response, meaning that your cortisol levels are always elevated.

Researchers found that high cortisol levels have a direct correlation with stress and depression. Another study found that an increase in cortisol means an increase in weight and body measurements.

While anxiety disorders are treatable, only 37% of those affected are getting treatment. If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek treatment.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know! We’d be happy to help.