Home / Blog September 02, 2022

Does a Weighted Blanket for Depression Help?

A weighted blanket for depression can help by reducing anxiety and promoting sleep – common issues for those suffering from the condition. The extra weight promotes calmness through deep touch pressure and may also relieve other symptoms like daytime fatigue and cognitive difficulties

weighted blanket for depression

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Weighted blankets can help those struggling with depression by promoting sleep and reducing the impacts of insomnia throughout the night

Weighted blankets may also reduce the effects of heightened stress and anxiety commonly experienced by those with depression

Studies show that negative daytime symptoms of depression (such as inability to concentrate and regulate emotions) could also improve through weighted blanket use

Did you know?
According to 2019 WHO statistics, depression was the second most common mental disorder after anxiety, affecting 280 million people worldwide

Depression is a mental health condition affecting 8.4% of American adults. It can look different for different people: some experience extended feelings of hopelessness, while others find themselves losing interest in daily activities or dealing with increased fatigue.

Fortunately, though this condition can feel overwhelming, treatment options are available. A weighted blanket for depression is just one of many.

Through deep touch pressure, weighted blankets can help regulate neurotransmitters, relieving stress and aiding sleep. Along with other treatments, a chunky weighted blanket can be a powerful item in your mental health toolkit.

The Impact of Depression on the Brain

As with many mental illnesses, we still have a lot to learn about depression.

What psychiatrists agree on is that it’s not the same as temporary sadness. The mood condition is characterized by depressive episodes, which can vary in length and nature. It’s not just a feeling that quickly comes and goes. This is helpful to remember when caring for yourself or a loved one who is experiencing depression.

During a depressive episode, a wide range of difficult symptoms can appear. These include:

  1. Feelings of sadness
  2. Difficulty sleeping
  3. Fatigue
  4. Difficulty thinking or concentrating
  5. Thoughts of suicide

 

It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or are in doubt about whether or not they apply to you, you should consider getting in touch with a mental health professional.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a free and invaluable resource that’s there to help you if you need it. You can find links to treatments and hotlines here.

With such serious symptoms, it’s impossible to recommend a one-size-fits-all treatment method. Your first step should be contacting a medical professional to start figuring out what’s right for you. From therapy to antidepressants, there are many options.

Alongside reaching out to a mental health professional, there are some small lifestyle shifts that can help address symptoms of depression. Using a weighted blanket is one option that can bring comfort to your life with minimal disruption to your routine.

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Weighted Blankets Can Help You Fall Asleep

Those suffering from depression often have difficulty getting good rest. Sometimes that quiet time before falling asleep is an unfortunate opportunity for dark thoughts to creep in.

After five minutes of tossing and turning you start to feel uneasy. You start to wonder if you’ll ever fall asleep.

A weighted blanket for depression can help with that.

Touch has long been a therapeutic tool in healing mental distress, and the deep touch pressure you get from weighted blankets can help provide a sense of safety .

The grounding effect of the blanket boosts serotonin production, and while the direct link between this hormone and depression is doubtful, it can help to stabilize your mood. Think of it as a secure anchor that keeps your thoughts from drifting too far.

To get the full benefits, make sure that your weighted blanket matches your body mass. If it’s too light, you won’t get the necessary pressure. Too heavy, and it could become a burden.

We recommend choosing a weighted blanket that weighs about 10% of your total body weight.

For more detailed information, take a stroll through the Napperhood and check out our guide.

Weighted Blankets Can Help Improve Your Sleep

That extra serotonin that weighted blankets coax out helps you to feel cozy and secure at the start of the night. It also plays an important role in your body’s sleep regulating systems. As a precursor to the body’s production of melatonin – the sleep-regulating hormone – it can help keep pesky interruptions to sleep under control.

And since severe depression is linked to lower melatonin levels, this can be a crucial benefit.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2020 set out to investigate the impacts that weighted blankets have on insomnia in psychiatric disorders like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

They randomly separated 120 patients with such disorders into two groups and gave them blankets weighted either with metal chain or light plastic. For four weeks, these patients were evaluated using metrics like the Insomnia Severity Index.

In the end, the study found weighted blankets to be “an effective and safe intervention for insomnia in patients with major depressive disorder … also improving daytime symptoms and level of activity.”

If metal chains sound unappealing, never fear – they aren’t the only option! There are many styles of weighted blankets to choose from.

At Bearaby, our blankets are hand-knit with a unique weighted yarn, providing the same therapeutic effects while maximizing coziness.

There are also a variety of fabrics, from cooling Tencel to sustainable eco-velvet, for our Bearabuddies to choose from. Each one is suited to different preferences, but they can all help you fight back against insomnia.

Weighted Blankets Can Reduce Stress

We’ve seen how deep touch pressure from weighted blankets can power serotonin and melatonin production. But there’s a third hormone that they also impact: cortisol.

In times of stress, this hormone kicks into overdrive, elevating your breathing and heart rate. And while it has its uses, you generally won’t need much of it when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Overproduction of cortisol – which often occurs in people with depression – is also associated with a host of negative long-term consequences such as high blood pressure and weight gain.

Getting ahead of these issues before they start is the easiest way to combat them. But that’s easier said than done when it comes to stress.

The good news is, if you notice yourself feeling especially stressed – whether at night as you’re trying to fall asleep or when you’re snuggling up on the couch with a book – weighted blankets can help.

The grounding effect provided by these blankets helps to naturally reduce cortisol levels in the body. In other words, they may be able to put your mind at ease.

If you’ve never used a weighted blanket before, the many options available can be overwhelming, adding to your stress instead of taking it away. Our Cotton Napper might be a good fit if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. It’s buttery-soft and a great breathable option for year-round use.

Weighted Blankets for sleep apnea

Weighted Blankets Can Help Relieve Anxiety

Another condition strongly connected to stress and cortisol levels is anxiety. It’s also a close relative to depression, and the most common mental disorder among Americans.

Studies show that the relationship between anxiety and depression is a long lasting one, as those suffering from anxiety are more likely to develop depression later on.

There’s no simple way to cure anxiety, but there are many effective treatments that help soften the symptoms. One natural remedy is a weighted blanket.

Long used as a therapeutic aid for anxiety associated with autism, weighted blankets are a proven method for reducing symptoms of that heightened state.

A study published in 2021 examined the effects of weighted blankets on those admitted to an inpatient mental health facility – a place known for being anxiety-inducing.

The study took 122 non-psychotic patients from three separate wings of the hospital, some involuntarily hospitalized and others who entered voluntarily for things like substance abuse or mental health issues.

Weighted blankets and unweighted blankets were offered to the patients “for a 20-minute intervention,” and anxiety levels were measured by looking at pulse rates and anxiety self-report forms before and after.

The study found “a statistically significant difference among those who used weighted blankets and those who did not.”

The pressure applied by these blankets was shown to help with anxiety that many diagnosed with depression are also facing.

Weighted Blankets Can Help Throughout the Day

Anxiety can show up at any time, night or day. And it’s not the only symptom of depression that might disrupt your day.

Other common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and depressed mood, which are all affected by hormones like serotonin, melatonin, and cortisol. That means the benefits of a weighted blanket don’t end when your alarm clock rings.

For example, the weighted chain blanket study also showed that weighted blankets can improve daytime energy levels. Maybe that’s no surprise, given that they often lead to a more fulfilling sleep.

Similarly, use of these blankets can increase concentration and cognitive abilities throughout the day.

That’s not to say that weighted blankets are a miracle cure, though. They should always be viewed as part of a bigger strategy tailored to your needs.

Conclusion

Those with depression commonly struggle with many symptoms, from trouble sleeping to mood and cognitive impairment. When part of a larger treatment strategy, a weighted blanket for depression may relieve some of those symptoms.

Deep touch pressure allows weighted blankets like our Cotton Napper to regulate naturally occurring hormones like serotonin, melatonin, and cortisol. With such a serious illness, they shouldn’t be the only treatment you consider, but they could be an important part of your mental health journey.