PTSD affects an estimated 5.2 million people each year according to the National Center for PTSD. As many as 7-8% of the US population will have PTSD sometime during their lives. While most people associate PTSD as a combat soldier's affliction, it affects millions of others throughout the country, requiring long-term and sometimes costly medical care and drug therapies. But surprisingly, there is a simple therapy that has shown to provide some interim relief: having just the right blanket.
Mosaic Weighted Blankets® was founded to address and was seeing most of their blanket orders for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) including ADD/ADHD Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's and Autism Spectrum Disorder. But since they were founded in 2011, Mosaic founder Laura LeMond has noticed a growing demand in her weighted blanket orders for people with PTSD symptoms.
Along with a high incidence in combat veterans, PTSD is increasingly showing up in adults, teens and children relating to health issues such as cancer; or having experienced childhood trauma, bullying (and cyber-bullying), or traumatic societal events like the bombing incident at the Boston Marathon, the chemical plant explosion in Texas, and mass shootings.
As seen in the movie American Sniper, the story of US Veteran Chris Kyle, many soldiers return with PTSD and take awhile to adjust to civilian life.
No matter the cause, PTSD is often a long-lasting struggle to reduce symptoms and get back to a healthy life. Nightmares, feelings of detachment, and becoming easily startled tend to aggravate insomnia caused by PTSD, but using a specially made weighted blanket can be therapeutic. Such blankets are designed to provide deep pressure touch stimulation which helps the body relax. Like a massage, moderate pressure applied to the body fosters the natural production of endorphins and serotonin, which is thought to provide a state of well-being and be helpful in inducing sleep. Serotonin transforms to melatonin, which research has shown helps maintain sleep throughout the night. Patients and Occupational Therapists (OTs) alike say the blanket feels like being held or cuddled, making one also feel calm and safe.
SFC. David DeMarco carried around a weighted blanket for a year and a half during his tour in Iraq, it was the only way the soldier could ease his PTSD symptoms and get to sleep. "Afraid of not waking up each day that blanket was the only thing that would get me to sleep each night". Even years later, he still can't get to sleep without its comfort. In a letter to Mosaic Weighted Blankets® he said, "I truly wish I did not need it but quite honestly it's the only thing that keeps the dreams away and gets me a full night's sleep."
Mosaic has also seen an uptick in OTs, Physical Therapists (PTs) and social workers who are ordering blankets to use as therapy for children up for adoption, as well as for kids with other disabilities and sleep problems.
LeMond recently received a blanket order from a family who were the adoptive parents of a 5 year old boy from the war torn Congo experiencing PTSD symptoms. They had heard from three different OTs that he needed a weighted blanket to provide him comfort and help in falling to sleep. A 4 year old foster child who had experienced ongoing night terrors with an inability to sleep through the night saw immediate relief with his weighted blanket. His foster Gramma telling LeMond, "The blanket has made a huge difference for the entire family; it has given my family back its sleep. We were stunned."
Cancer, heart attack or stroke are other issues that can deliver a strong punch of PTSD. A young chemotherapy patient's dread of the procedure can only be blocked out by her cocooning in her weighted blanket. Simply being diagnosed with a serious disease can cause PTSD. A study done by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that 1 in 4 breast cancer patients also had symptoms of PTSD. More alarming for patient health is that a WebMD study found that after a heart attack, 1 in 8 patients experienced PTSD symptoms including anxiety and nightmares, their symptoms increasing the chance of recurring heart related issues.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that the number of PTSD cases is growing, partly a result of the trauma experienced in man-made and natural disasters. Their hope is that the learning from working with veterans will result in advancements to existing PTSD therapies and even preventive strategies. Until then, everyone grab their blanket.
Mosaic Weighted Blankets® delivers a safe and effective non-drug therapy for those suffering from anxiety, loss of sleep, or the need for calm at any time of the day or night. They are a healthy and calming solution for many disorders. Says LeMond, "I am so glad we can help so many people by offering the experience of a weighted blanket. Once you have one, you will see how much you will naturally gravitate to it, and how good it makes you feel. It really does calm the mind, body and spirit."