Weighted Blanket for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
For someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, even the most ordinary tasks can be difficult. This mental health disorder causes the person afflicted with it to think of disturbing thoughts, images and urges that can cause them a great deal of anxiety and discomfort.
Children, teens and adults with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder often perform ritualistic repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) which can affect daily life.
An estimated 2.3% of the population between ages 18-54 suffer from this disorder and is prevalent in male children. Preschool children can show signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, however diagnoses are usually done when a child starts communicating verbally as this makes it easier to pinpoint the first real signs of the condition.
What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
The exact causes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have not been identified, however there are risk factors that increase a person’s chances of having the disorder. The condition might be triggered by genetic, neurological, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors.
Although the gene that causes the disorder has not been identified, the disorder can be hereditary. Those who have the condition or show signs of symptoms in their immediate family may have a higher risk of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Behavioral studies suggest that people with OCD often do compulsions or rituals out of fear. When individuals with the disorder are under intense stress or are triggered by stressful situations, doing their rituals helps reduce fear.
People with OCD are often plagued with thoughts that are unwelcome. While people who don’t have the disorder can disregard these thoughts, the person who has OCD usually interprets these thoughts as real and true and this causes them to do their ritualistic behaviors.
Individuals who have had a traumatic brain injury are at higher risk for obsessive compulsive disorder and studies have linked that people with OCD are seen to have the symptoms within 12 months of a stressful or traumatic life event.
What are the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by having obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can affect a person’s life to the point where it slows down or hinders them from living out normal day-to-day activities. This condition can also interfere with a person’s relationships, work, and school.
Obsessions can be defined as repeated mental images, thoughts, or urges that can cause distress and anxiety. Examples of obsessions are :
- Constant aggressive thoughts towards themselves or others
- Obsessively putting things in perfect order or always making sure that things are symmetrical
- Thinking of taboo thoughts involving sex or religion and etc.
- Constantly having fears of getting sick because of germs or contamination.
Compulsions are repetitive or ritualistic behaviors that are results of obsessions. Common compulsions include the following:
- Repeatedly checking on things (checking if lights are off or doors are locked)
- Counting, tapping, touching objects in a particular way
- Toilet rituals (excessive hand washing or wiping)
- Cleaning obsessively and in certain ways
If an individual with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not able to handle intense stress, physical manifestations of panic can be observed such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tense muscles
- Shortness of breath
- Anxiety and fear
What are the treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is vital for an individual’s overall health. It is best to treat the disorder once it has been diagnosed so that symptoms become milder and almost disappear. Treatment is crucial so that the disorder will not completely take over an individual’s life, making them unable to function normally in society.
There are four methods in which OCD can be treated. These treatments can all be done simultaneously if one or two do not work effectively.
- Medication. Antidepressants are often prescribed by doctors to treat common symptoms/complications such as anxiety and depression associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
- Therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is the most effective treatment for OCD. One type of therapy that has been proven to have results is exposure and response prevention which involves gradually exposing the individual with a feared object or obsession, like dirt, and let them learn healthy ways to cope with the anxiety.
- Surgery. For patients with severe OCD who have not responded to other treatments, they may opt to get a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation which involves implanting a device that sends electrical signals to the brain.
How can a weighted blanket help individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
One of the methods of alleviating symptoms caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is by reducing overall stress which can include using aids to relieve anxiety.
A weighted blanket, with its microbeads suspended in polyester coating distributed throughout the blanket, effectively reduces movement and helps the person using it through inducing calmness and relaxation. This is a non-invasive and drug-free way of keeping an OCD sufferer calm their nerves and reduce spastic movement.
Having a weighted blanket gives a person with OCD a better sleep which effectively addresses feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression.