What is Deep Pressure Therapy?

Everyone goes through a lot of things each day. Each experience offers a significant and lasting impact on the person’s wellbeing.

For young children with special needs, they often have a hard time adjusting because their brains are wired differently. Certain situations overwhelm their senses like being in a crowded place or hearing loud or booming noises suddenly. Because they don’t understand everything clearly, they’re often stressed out or get overly anxious.  

For healthy children, letting them play with their favorite toys puts them at ease while leaving them alone even for just a moment scares them easily.

It's the same thing with healthy adults. Hearing the news about the death of a close friend saddens you. On the other hand, knowing that your sister just gave birth to a healthy baby, gives off a feeling of euphoria. Some of them come totally unexpected while others are not.

The gloomy reality is that it’s easier to get stressed out than it is to relax.

Everyone should learn how to handle and respond to every situation. Be aware of the available options. Some of them are free or may cost a little, while some are plain expensive.

For example, parents can give their children a tight hug every time they’re anxious or scared. Adult individuals can also choose to go to a spa for a body massage. These things all help the affected individual relax and feel at ease.

The application of gentle and deep pressure on your body relaxes you because it’s a form of therapy.

For deep pressure therapy to be effective, there should be an even distribution of weight or pressure applied to the entire body of the individual.

What is deep pressure therapy?

Deep pressure therapy is the constant application of gentle pressure to your tactile senses.

It is achieved through the wearing of weighted vests, the use of weighted blankets, or subjecting yourself to a squeeze or hug machine. It is one of the ideal forms of therapy for children with special needs like autism, ADHD, or other sensory disorders, and adults battling anxiety or sleep disorders.

The gentle pressure allows you to focus on what you're currently feeling and get rid of the other things distracting you. Your brain signals your body to increase the production of serotonin and dopamine (happy hormones) while keeping down the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) at the same time.

For young children with special needs, it helps them process the information they get from their senses and deal with their fears or emotions

When the entire body is being subjected to deep pressure therapy, it gives off a calming effect for children and adults alike.

It simulates the act of being stroked, cuddled, hugged, or swaddled. Positive emotions are evoked to help you feel relaxed, secured, being comforted, or happy.

It balances the activity of your parasympathetic and sympathetic systems in your autonomic nervous system.

The main parts of the autonomic nervous system

  1. The parasympathetic system – The sleep and digest mode that regulates the involuntary functions of your body like heart rate, breathing, or blood pressure and stimulates your digestive tract.
  2. The sympathetic system – The flight or fight response during stressful situations to help you cope up. It's necessary for your survival instincts to kick in. Your body increases the production of cortisol (known as the stress hormones) for adrenaline to kick in and give you that extra boost.
  3. The enteric system – Your gut-feeling. Enables you to decide quickly on what to do based on instinct or intuition.

What are the benefits of deep pressure therapy?

  • Better sleep quality

Getting the sleep that you need is vital to stay or get healthy. It is one of the critical foundations for good health. Any item, therapy, or technique that helps you sleep better is a vital tool to have in your arsenal. 

  • Enhanced mood

When you sleep better, you also feel better. You feel refreshed and happy. The people around you can’t help but notice how relaxed and jovial you are. The great thing about being in a great mood is that you get to share your positive outlook with the people around you.

  • Increased energy levels or productivity

You’ll always feel recharged after having a restful sleep. When you get to the office, you have more energy, and your sharp focus allows you to work efficiently. At the end of your working hours, you can hang out with your friends to catch up as you still have enough energy to spend before feeling tired and sleepy.

  • The improved focus for schoolchildren

When children are well-rested, they’ll perform well in school. They can easily understand new lessons because they’re awake and more participative in class.

  • Children with special needs become better at self-regulation (the ability to take care of one’s self)

Children with special needs have that tendency to respond inappropriately to specific situations. That’s why parents and caregivers must always be extra careful to ensure their safety. Deep pressure therapy puts them at ease before they can inflict injury on themselves.

Why is deep pressure therapy important?

  • It is a form of meditation or relaxation.

Any form of rest and getting the needed amount is necessary to stay healthy. Knowing how and when to relax is a life skill everyone should know. You’re helping yourself to live longer when you know how to meditate and relax when you need it the most.

  • It helps children with special needs.

The therapy is designed to help them deal with their sensory processing disorders. Their parents or caregivers can feel a sense of relief or happiness to see their loved ones with special needs, improve or get better.

  • It helps people suffering from sleep or anxiety disorders feel better.

Feeling happy or at peace and improved sleeping patterns help people get healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

What is sensory input?

Sensory input is when your brain takes in the information that you get from the things around you through your senses. You take in that information through your body’s sensory systems.

The five traditional senses taught since you were a kid:

  1. Olfactory – Sense of smell through your nose.
  2. Visual – Sense of sight through your eyes.
  3. Auditory – Sense of hearing through your ears.
  4. Gustatory – Sense of taste through your tongue.
  5. Tactile – Sense of touch through your skin.

The four lesser-known senses

  1. Vestibular – Information that we get through our body’s movement.
  2. Interoception – Responsible for letting your body feel and understand how to know if we are hungry, full, tired, thirsty, sleepy, etc.
  3. Proprioception – The sense that lets us know the relative position of our different body parts and the amount of strength needed to complete a specific movement during physical activities like walking, running, jumping, swimming, etc.
  4. Equilibrioception – Our sense of balance that prevents us from falling or tripping over when doing various physical activities.

What happens when people can’t accurately process the information they receive from their senses?

  • They can’t take proper care of themselves (self-regulation).

They must be diagnosed early for the necessary medical intervention to be administered. Individuals (children and adults) who have a hard time accurately interpreting the information they get from their senses need professional medical attention. It’s essential that they learn what the activities that are safe and what are those that put them in danger of hurting themselves.

  • Easily feels overwhelmed by any changes, even the minor ones.

This leads to exhibiting negative or unusual behavior or reaction. The autonomic nervous system receives and processes the information collected from the different senses to help you react appropriately to the given situation.