Despite being used by therapists for years, weighted sensory products recently made their way into the mainstream, gaining widespread popularity along the way. While most commonly used to benefit individuals with ADHD, weighted hats, vests and other products now successfully support other sensory processing disorders and even autism.
Usuallytreated as supplemental support, weighted products do not replace medication, but provide an additional sense of calm when used. For individuals suffering from a variety of issues resulting in anxiety, weighted products offer relief from the stresses and fears brought on by everyday life.
So, how do these products actually reduce anxiety?
Physically, weighted products work to ‘ground’ the individual experiencing anxiety. This process reduces the anxiety experience and makes it easier to remain calm, cool and collected. Chemically, this process works to reduce levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – resyncing the natural 24-hour hormone secretion rhythm in your brain. Essentially, this process allows your body to move out of the ‘fight or flight’ response triggered by high levels of anxiety.
Heavier weighted products form the foundation for deep pressure therapy, deep tissue pressure on an individual, to help treat situations of extreme stress and anxiety.
This pressure mimics the feeling of a hug, releasing oxytocin in the brain —a hormone meant to create feelings of love, trust and happiness for most individuals. The brain then secretes serotonin, another hormone meant to emit feelings of peace, calm and joy. These two chemicals combine to significantly decrease anxiety levels, helping individuals endure routine daily stresses.