Weighted blankets, candles and salt lamps: Think twice before buying anxiety products

You may have seen weighted blankets, salt lamps or even bracelets promising anxiety relief, and while experts say these aren’t “a cure” for the disorder, it’s possible they can help some people cope.

In most situations, experts claim, regular exercise and therapy provide the most benefit in combating anxiety, not random products you see online.

Speaking with Today.com, New England-based psychologist Dr. Maria Sirois noted anxiety can become predatory, which keeps a person locked in and feeling paranoid or isolated.

So products like weighted blankets, for example, have shown to ease anxiety or stress in some adults, and for many, even fight insomnia.

READ MORE: ‘High-functioning’ anxiety — it’s not a diagnosis, but many say it’s real

The wellness market

These products have become somewhat trendy, popping up at big retailers like Indigo, where you will be able to purchase weighted blankets this fall. On sites like Amazon Canada, anxiety relief products range from necklaces to mists to candles or even teas.

Dr. Katherine Martinez of AnxietyBC says the stigma around the mental health disorder is slowly disappearing, but these products are showing up in the wellness market because of our hectic world.

“We are in a much more fast-paced existence, especially in urban areas,” she explained.

She adds being part of this world means wanting to deal with mental health issues quickly, and although she is hesitant to use the phrase, she says some of us look for a “quick fix.”

“You can get everything at your fingertips, so why wouldn’t we have the ability to calm the system?”

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But if you’re looking to buy a product, it’s important to do your homework. Many will claim to relieve stress or anxiety, but a majority of them are not designed by psychologists, she said.

“Apps have been the product of choice for anxiety, but a very high percentage aren’t evidence-based,” she adds. Mindshift, which is created by AnxietyBC, is done by psychologists, and popular app HeadSpace was co-founded by a trained Buddhist monk.

“Since Headspace is promoting mindfulness-based stress reduction and this particular arm of psychology does have an evidence base to it, this is an app with an efficacious foundation,” she continues. “This is a far departure from many other mental health apps, where unfortunately the creators are coming from all sorts of employment/skill areas which have no association with mental health.”

WATCH: Five ways to help your kid deal with anxiety

The target consumers of this space are also often vulnerable, she adds, and when products highlight relief, some may be willing to spend hundreds of dollars to make things work.

Some anxiety bracelets and necklaces on Amazon, for example, can cost up to $100, and for some, she adds, this could seem like a good investment for their health.

“If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is. Do your research.”

And while she argues a product won’t cure anxiety, it can offer some relief. Studies have shown, she adds, things like exercise are proven to help people with mild depression and anxiety. Often, it’s about talking to your doctor to see what the best options are.

“Start with the evidence first and use with your eyes wide open.”

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Coping with anxiety

Dr. Eilenna Denisoff, senior director of CBT Associates in Toronto, says there are other ways to cope with anxiety.

“Remember that anxiety is ‘normal’ and that all humans have it,” she tells Global News. “If you are feeling anxious it can be helpful to remember that while anxiety might be uncomfortable, it is not dangerous.”

She adds anxiety is often paired with high levels of stress, so we need to make sure we are doing the basics like exercising, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet.

READ MORE: Could these blankets be the cure for your sleep problems?

“While it might be tempting to try short-term strategies such as avoidance, anti-anxiety medications, or other substances or products, these are not long-term solutions,” she adds.

And remember, anxiety is highly treatable — therapy works for many.

arti.patel@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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