How Weighted Blankets Can Help With PTSD
PTSD, which stands for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, generally occurs after someone has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. A diagnosis for PTSD can be complicated by the fact that the term “traumatic” can mean very different things to different people. An occurrence which might be a seriously traumatic event to one person may barely phase someone else. Now, this is all pretty standard information on PTSD, but what many people don’t know is that we’ve known about PTSD for over a century.
In 1915, Charles Myers came up with the term “shell shock” to describe symptoms displayed by soldiers in World War I. In World War II and Vietnam, those symptoms were called “combat fatigue.” Thanks to scientific research into this condition, we know now that PTSD is not limited to soldiers. In fact, PTSD affects about 3.5% of U.S. adults (just over 7 million people) every year. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD, and Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans are disproportionately affected compared to whites. However, the demographic most affected by PTSD is veterans. This isn’t surprising when you consider that PTSD was first noticed due to the sheer volume of soldiers affected by it. One study of 60,000 U.S. veterans that had fought in Iraq and/or Afghanistan found that 13.5% screened positive for PTSD. That’s nearly four times the national rate, and some studies have even found the rate for veterans to be as high as 30%. Between 2003 and 2016, as many as 500,000 U.S. were diagnosed with PTSD.
So, what exactly are the symptoms of PTSD? According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD symptoms can be broken up into four categories. The first category, intrusive memories, includes recurring, unwanted memories/flashbacks and dreams about the traumatic event, as well as severe emotional distress and even physical reactions to anything that reminds you of the event. The second category, avoidance, means exactly what you’d expect – trying to avoid thinking about the event, as well as avoiding places, activities, and/or people that remind you of the event. The third category, negative changes in thinking/mood, includes having negative thoughts about yourself/the world, hopelessness about the future, memory problems (especially related to the event), and feeling numb/detached. Finally, the fourth category, changes in physical/emotional reactions, includes being easily startled/frightened, paranoia, self-destructive behavior, trouble sleeping, irritability and angry outbursts/generally aggressive behavior, and overwhelming guilt/shame.
Unfortunately, there is no universal treatment for PTSD. Instead, symptoms are usually addressed through therapy and/or medication. Therapy can help those suffering from PTSD to understand how the traumatic event is affecting them and can even help patients to come to terms with their trauma. Again, there is no medication specifically for PTSD, so doctors will instead prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to treat specific symptoms as needed. Fortunately, weighted blankets are now an option for those suffering from PTSD who want to try self-help. In fact, weighted blankets show such promise for helping with PTSD that Keith Zivalich, the inventor of the weighted blanket and the owner of the Magic Weighted Blanket, donates weighted blankets to veterans with PTSD every month. Of course, weighted blankets are not a substitute for doctor-prescribed treatment, but studies have shown that Deep Pressure Therapy (read more about that here), which is utilized by weighted blankets, can lessen anxiety and tension, which can lead to a deeper, more restful sleep. So, if you’re a veteran with PTSD, check out the Magic Weighted Blanket’s website for details on how to get your name on the donation list. And for everyone else dealing with PTSD, consider whether a weighted blanket might help with your symptoms.