Depression and anxiety affect millions of Americans, and millions more around the world. Both conditions can be triggered by many different factors, and anyone can feel the effects - even if you don't personally, you probably know someone who does. But one thing is for sure: finding ways to manage these conditions that work for you can be an enormous life positive.
Alongside medically recommended treatments, it may very well be helpful to look into alternative approaches to treating both conditions. One of these is the weighted anxiety blanket. But before we delve into that, let’s first look at the fundamentals of depression and anxiety.
Depression vs. Anxiety
Depression and anxiety can occur side by side. In some cases, depression leads to anxiety, while in others anxiety can incite depression. According to studies, around 45% of people with one mental health condition struggle with two or more disorders. Though there may be varying causes, both conditions may manifest similar symptoms and treatments.
The symptoms of depression can either be physical and emotional.
Physical symptoms include:
- reduced energy
- chronic fatigue
- constant sluggish feel
- difficulty in focusing, making decisions, remembering
- frequent pain, aches, cramps, or unclear cause of gastrointestinal issues
- changes in weight or appetite
- difficulty in sleeping, early wake-up, or too much sleep
Emotional symptoms include:
- lost interest in activities or hobbies you previously loved
- A constant upheaval of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
- lack of hope and pessimism
- easily angered, or irritated
- experiencing a feeling of unworthiness or helplessness
- suicidal thoughts and attempts
Anxiety symptoms can also manifest physically and emotionally. However, take note that anxiety is normal because we all experience it for some reason. But, prolonged or chronic anxiety can be damaging and lead you to irrational and unwanted thoughts and fears. All these can interfere with your daily life and routines.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- frequent fatigue feeling
- difficulty focusing or remembering
- muscle tension
- racing heart
- grinding teeth or biting lips
- sleep-associated problems such as restlessness, draining sleep, difficulty sleeping, and unsatisfying sleep
Emotional symptoms of anxiety similarly manifest:
- restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge
- uncontrolled worry or fear
- constant dread
- panic and nervousness for unclear reasons
Remember. Anxiety and depression can exude overlapping symptoms, including difficulty sleeping and concentrating, irritability, and uncontrolled anger or fear.
Alternative Approaches to Treating Depression and Anxiety
It is important to remember that alongside medically prescribed routes there are also alternative approaches you can apply to help with depression and anxiety. And actually, many of the everyday activities we do can be crucial to healing too!
The strategies below are simple, practical, and cost-effective but can lead to major improvements in your mental health. We recommend trying them out to see which ones help:
(1) Mind-Body Practices
These are practices and techniques you can apply to boost the mind’s positive impact on the body. It can also work the other way around. Among the common examples of these are relaxation training, meditation, hypnosis, and imagery/visualization. These strategies have played essential roles in traditional healing for centuries, especially in Asian countries such as China and Japan.
Various research confirms that yoga, for example, can result in positive outcomes for anxiety and depression. Mindfulness has also been proven to have a significant impact on improving one’s mood.
Other forms of mindfulness include tai chi and qigong. Not only do they help you cope with anxiety and depression, they help you take a sense of control over at least an aspect of your life.
(2) Nutritional Supplements
It is only recently that science is beginning to appreciate the uniqueness of each person’s biochemical processes. Functional medicine, for example, is just starting to gain acceptance in the medical world. This strategy seeks to assess the genetic information and the unique variations occurring in each person’s metabolism. That includes their special need for nutrients, which impact feelings of happiness.
Nutritional supplements commonly suggested for people suffering from mood disorders are:
- Multivitamins with B6 and minerals
- Omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA totalling 1000-3000 mg every day
- Probiotics with two or more live cultures
- Vitamin D-3 (dosage depending on existing vitamin D blood levels and season of the year)
Take note, however, that nutrition-dense organic foods still provide the best source of nutrients for the body and mind. Keep in mind though, that while standard nutritional supplementation is helpful, it may be necessary to avoid some supplements while taking some prescribed pills and other medications.
(3) Essential Oils
Essential oils prove useful in dealing with anxiety and depression because of their aromatherapy. Of course, there are individual preferences of scent or self-care. Among the conventional essential oils with calming effects are lavender, basil, chamomile, and Frankincense. Bergamot and peppermint oil also yield stimulating results and can help.
(4) Nature-Based Therapies
Simply being with nature can have a rapid positive effect on feelings of happiness. Watching natural scenery such as mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and rainbows in some cases can manifest feelings of calmness, beauty, happiness, hopefulness, and rejuvenation. This can not only helps you emotionally but also help decrease blood pressure, muscle tension, production of stress hormones and heart rate.
(5) Animal-assisted and Pet Therapies
Got a cat or a dog? Studies show that pets offer therapeutic interventions for people with depression and anxiety. So, if you feel struggling, run along with your dog. Tickle your cats. Or watch your pets play around. You’ll have this positive mood boost.
(6) Music Therapy
Both empirical and scientific evidence shows that music therapy comes with healing effects. Actively listening to or performing music can promote a healthy emotional state. There is a need, however, to further validate its results but given its low cost and risks, you can do this anytime.
(7) Traditional Chinese Medicine
China is known for numerous traditional healing methods. However, did you know that they also have alternative approaches to treating anxiety and depression? Among these is the use of herbs, acupuncture, movement practices like tai chi and traditional massage, amongst others.
(8) Naturopathic Medicine
This technique involves proper diet, regular exercise, natural botanicals and supplements, mind/body practice, hydrotherapy, and other methods.
How Weighted Blankets Can Help You Deal with Anxiety and Depression
Aside from herbs or supplements, there are other items you can take home which may be very useful for helping with anxiety and depression. One is a weighted blanket - where customer reviews show positive comments in relation to helping with both depression and anxiety associated with he calming and relaxing effect they produce. But there is more to that.
How Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Today, researchers and scientists are showing correlated studies on the role of weighted blankets to help with anxiety and depression. Let’s get to know more about this.
Weighted pressure is the primary feature of a weighted blanket that links to its healing property. Studies show that such attributes can help both children and adults deal with attention deficit disorders, distress, anxiety, insomnia, and sensory over-responsivity.
Sometimes called gravity blankets, weighted blankets boost serotonin and melatonin while reducing cortisol, which is a stress hormone. As a result, weighted blankets produce peaceful and calming effects. They also improve cognitive functioning among people of all ages.
More importantly, these properties make weighted blankets helpful in reducing anxiety and depression alike. The good thing about it? They are typically safe to use and helps people achieve a more relaxing state and therefore, better sleep quality.
Typically, weighted blankets push your body downwards, thereby helping ground it. That process is called “earthing” or “grounding.”
Grounding the human body while sleeping synchronizes cortisol secretion with its 24-hours and normal circadian rhythms as hinted in the previous paragraph. That applies primarily among women. The finding relates to a report in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Trusted Source.
Another study indicated that weighted blankets effectively and safely reduces anxiety among adults. Out of the 32 adults who participated in the survey, a whopping 63% experienced lower anxiety levels.
How Heavy Should a Weighted Blanket Be?
Experts suggest that your weight should help you identify the proper weight of your blanket. Specifically, if you buy one, make sure its 5% to 10% of your body weight if you are an adult. For children, buy them one that is 10% of their body weight with an additional 1 to 2 pounds. If you are not sure, better consult a doctor or an occupational therapist to help you determine which is most comfortable and efficient for you.
Take note, however, that before buying or using a weighted blanket, consult a doctor if you:
- Struggle with a chronic health condition
- Experiencing menopause
- Have circulation and respiration issues
- Have temperature regulation issues
Tips for Weighted Blankets
Here is some vital information you should know before purchasing a weighted blanket:
1. Weighted Blankets Can Cost More. Because of its customizable features and specific manufacturing requests, weighted blankets can fetch double or even triple price compared to regular blankets.
2. Fabric Matters. A lot of manufacturers and small enterprise owners offer you choices of what your blanket can be made of. Standard options are cotton, flannel, fleece, and polyester, plus Minky fabrics - if you want an anxiety weighted blanket, better select the type with the material thats right for you.
3. General Rule of Thumb. This applies when personalizing or customizing a weighted blanket. It simply refers to choosing the blanket weight that most closely corresponds to 10% of your body weight.
4. Blankets come In Various Fillers. Weighted blankets are filled with many different things. Among these are polypropylene pellets, river stones, rice, glass, beans, and sand. Each filler has its advantages and disadvantages. We recommend selecting a blanket filled with fine glass beads for the most comfortable, even and relaxing rest.
5. Fit your Body, Not the Bed. When choosing your weighted blanket, always make sure it fits your body and not the bed. Having a blanket which is too big for you can disperse pressure and lesson the positive effects on treating anxiety and depression.
Hope these tips have helped - and please pass them on if they have.
Here's to better rest for all!
The rocabi sleep team