- A Natural Solution to Depression?
- How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Depression
- Relevant Studies
- How to Use a Weighted Blanket to Help Alleviate Depression Symptoms
Depression is no stranger to many of us, especially during the last year or so. It’s tough to function mentally and physically, and oftentimes, there seems to be no aid in combatting this uneasy feeling.
Depression stems from many facets of life, and researchers are doing their best to develop solutions. So much so that options can seem overwhelming.
As mental health is becoming more acceptable to discuss, we see more forums offering tips to tackle this plague of sadness without medical assistance. One solution that’s worthy of the hype – weighted blankets. These guys are a natural, unintimidating, low-risk option that is exactly what it sounds like, a blanket with weight in it. Not too scary of an antidepressant, right? Let’s get into it.
Natural Solutions Are IN
Have you ever heard of deep touch pressure therapy (DTP)? This therapeutic practice is the beautiful remedy behind weighted blankets. Essentially, DTP applies pressure to the body to implicate a grounding effect. Grounding allows the nervous system to relax, taming the monkey mind from its unproductive and aimless self-talk.
The nervous system is the culprit of a racing mind, and we have the power to take it out of fight or flight mode with slight pressure as basic as a hug. Unfortunately, some of us may not have 24/7 access to a solid hugger so we can reach for the next best thing (arguably the best).
Weighted blankets have a few lbs dispersed throughout the blanket evenly, caressing the body throughout the evening and stimulating the feeling of being swaddled. Even though this could seem like a solution for a child, it’s not. We all need cuddles, and there’s no shame in that. Plus, back to the main point, they’re 100% natural. No need for a doctor’s script to reap the benefits of DTP or bettered hormone regulation. More on this later.
An Overlap In Benefits
When you Google “depression treatments,” the top answers involve various therapies, medications, and procedures like electroconvulsive therapy (yikes). Therapy is excellent but not always an accessible option for patients. Drugs are also proven to work but can come with some less than desirable side effects. So how do therapeutic and medical treatments work for those with depression? There are a few commonalities among treatments that ease symptoms and help pull you out of your slump.
Most have to do with boosting or regulating serotonin, our happy hormone. If the brain is running low on serotonin, you’re likely to experience depression via lessened sleep, irritable digestion, and poor eating habits. So really, your entire body is impacted by this little big chemical. But mentally, serotonin regulates your mood and thus, plays a huge role in feeling happier and calmer. Drugs and therapy work to manage this hormone to achieve optimal mental and physical health.
However, weighted blankets do the same thing. In addition to easing depression symptoms, there are even more advantages of weighted blankets including alleviating anxiety and improving sleep.
How Do Weighted Blankets Help With Depression
1.) Boosts happy hormones
Okay, so we’ve already dabbled in the role of serotonin in depression and how crucial it is to get enough of this happy hormone. When we tend to feel highly or uncontrollably emotional, there’s likely an imbalance.
There’s also a good chance cortisol levels, our primary stress hormone, are high during these periods. This pressure from weighted blankets lowers cortisol levels while boosting oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.
This hormonal regulation calms the body while improving mood, no medication necessary.
2.) Grounds the body (DTP)
Grounding, or earthing, helps the mind and body understand it’s safe. Grounding has proven to better sleep and lessen the symptoms of insomnia, an issue relating to depression.
This result is primarily because of those little chemicals we call hormones. Benefits from regulation include deeper and longer sleep, less physical pain, and ultimately less stress.
As the blanket pushes your body into the mattress, a profound calming effect will wash over the body, ensuring excellent sleep all night long. The continuous touch ensures the body will reap the benefits throughout the evening, so deep and restful sleep will go uninterrupted. We can’t be happy if we don’t sleep. Smaller blankets that cover laps can keep you grounded throughout the day or on the couch in the meantime.
3.) Betters sleep
If you suffer from depression, you are probably no stranger to a lack of sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, 75% of depression patients experience insomnia, while 20% have obstructive sleep apnea and 15% hypersomnia.
Whether it’s the so-called simple act of falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting quality snoozes, it can feel next to impossible for those with depression.
Conversely, little to no sleep can catalyze depression. Regardless of the circumstance, solid sleep is a basic human necessity that can easily go neglected. Luckily, weighted blankets have proven to improve all aspects of sleep quality. Again, thanks to DTP, the release of serotonin is a catalyst for the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
We see melatonin frequently at drug stores in pill form in hopes of better rest. Why buy it when we can create it naturally by throwing on a blanket? Seems like a good bang for your buck to us.
4.) Creates a sense of security
Babies love being swaddled. Why, you may ask? Swaddling created a sense of safety and security. Those with depression can feel a sense of uncertainty, worry, and discomfort.
Eliminating these symptoms and replacing them with support, safety, and assurance allow the body to rest comfortably. Weighted blankets gently caress the body with a bit of pressure to swaddle its owner. And yes, we promote the adult version of this practice.
Make sure you choose the right amount of weight for your body type for optimal blanket snuggles.
5.) Alleviates anxiety
A common condition coexisting alongside depression is the wonderful plague of anxiety. Those who struggle with anxiety know it’s anything but wonderful. Both conditions can trigger one another, and it is totally normal.
However, it’s not normal when it’s debilitating or severely affecting everyday life. Anxiety stems from our body going into fight or flight mode, increasing sensation in the sympathetic nervous system of which is responsible for stress. Weighted blankets mitigate the arousal prompted by the nervous system by reducing cortisol and increasing dopamine and serotonin. Reduced arousal results in lowered heart rate and smoother breathing.
A study performed by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found the effects of putting on a weighted vest included reduced sympathetic and autonomic arousal, decreasing the adverse effects of anxiety. The power of this vest mirrors exactly what a weighted blanket can do for you.
We know there isn’t a ton of research already performed on the benefits of weighted blankets on depression. However, they get their clout for a reason. There are studies out there detailing the benefits of weighted blankets so we can piece together how they can work to ease your symptoms of depression:
- This study in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health found that 33% of patients utilizing weighted blankets showed lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and oximetry, 63% had less anxiety, and 78% preferred weighted blankets as a calming modality.
- A study including patients hospitalized after a mental health crisis found 60% reported lowered anxiety after using a weighted blanket.
- The Journal of Chile Adolescent Psychopharmaceuticals suggests that DTP can reduce required doses of psychostimulant medications.
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) significantly reduce symptoms of depression.
- This report found pleasant and positive moods statistically significantly improved among grounded participants.
- This study found that weighted blanket interventions enhanced morning mood after night use and a significantly decreased time to fall asleep for participants.
These findings are just a few of many that bring home the point of integrating a weighted blanket into your sleep routine to combat undesirable depressive symptoms.
We hope the popularity of these awesome therapeutic tools inspires researchers and clinicians to explore the magical world of weighted blankets further.
How To Use A Weighted Blanket For Depression
Those of us with depression are no more special than your average Joe when it comes to using your weighted blanket, and this is a good thing.
We tend to feel alienated or out of sorts when we experience symptoms that may stray from the norm, but know that we’re not alone. Weighted blankets are an excellent solution for all. So, we encourage you to take a deep breath, throw on your weighted blanket, and feel the calming sensations lull you to sleep.
However, there are a few tips and tricks that we’ll share to ease any concerns about using your blanket correctly. But first things first, make sure you can put on and take off your weighted blanket independently. So no help from your partner, roommate, mom, or dad.
We want you to feel relaxed and empowered, not anxious and trapped. If a blanket is too heavy for you to perform this basic act, opt a little lighter. When picking your weighted blanket, follow these rules of thumb:
- Your weighted blanket should weigh 10% of your body weight, give or take a few lbs.
- Pick a size that covers your body and doesn’t hang too far over the bed.
- Choose a fabric with optimal temperature, texture, and breathability for your ideal sleep situation.
- Opt for a filling that avoids any allergy, sensory, or tactile sensitivities.
If you’re still not confident in your shopping venture, check out our guide on how to choose a weighted blanket. Don’t stress; we have all the resources you need to make an educated buying decision. And if you do become stressed, know that your weighted blanket will be there to comfort you soon enough.
These days, there’s no need to suffer tremendously from depression.
Weighted blankets are there for you always to kick the feelings of anxiousness and sadness to the curb.
We hope you feel inspired and hopeful in your mental health journey and wish a calming weighted experience upon you.