Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US by far. Based on data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 40 million adults report symptoms of anxiety. That’s about 19% of the entire population!
Faced with this alarming statistic, there has been a rise in the use of stuffed animals for anxiety therapy. It appears that cuddly animals aren’t just wonderful toys for children and aesthetic additions to bedrooms; they’re also extremely effective for dealing with symptoms of this debilitating mental illness.
Plush buddies, such as the custom stuffed animals created by companies like Cuddle Clones, are increasingly being used in several forms of behavioral therapy among children, adults, and even the elderly.
Don’t just take our word for it though—take a look at what the experts have to say…
Stuffed Animals and Anxiety: The Science Behind Them
Do stuffed animals help with anxiety? To find the answer to this question, we must first understand the concept of transitional or comfort objects.
You’ve probably seen a child forming an attachment to a blanket or a stuffed toy at least once in your life. These “chosen possessions” that offer security and comfort to a child are called transitional objects. The familiar objects that children gravitate toward are often cuddly or soft to the touch. They’re known for helping them make the transition from dependence to independence.
In recent years, mental health experts like Dr. David Spiegel, the Associate Chair of Psychiatry Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, are starting to believe that transitional objects could play a similar role in healing adults as well.
Transitional Objects for Adults
While research into the usefulness of weighted blankets and stuffed animals for dealing with anxiety-related disorders is admittedly limited, occupational therapists have been known to use these products in “deep-touch pressure stimulation” therapies to help with certain disorders such as ADHD, borderline personality disorders, and autism.
In 2020, one study suggested that weighted blankets had “the potential to be beneficial in limited settings and populations” when used to decrease anxiety and insomnia.
Two years later, in 2022, researchers in Bristol, UK developed a huggable cushion that simulated breathing. Evidence suggested that it helped reduce anxiety in students who were about to take a test.
So, does this research extend to stuffed animals for adults with anxiety as well?
Back in 2004, Japanese engineer Takanori Shibata was one of the first people to explore the benefits of stuffed animals for anxiety. His creation, the PARO robot seal, was a stuffed seal designed to help those suffering from severe developmental conditions, from young adults to elderly dementia patients. Since then, PARO has been used for several therapeutic purposes, from improving socialization to improving speech fluency and even lifting moods.
The Perfect Anxiety Stuffed Animal
It’s no surprise that people find solace in animals.
Therapy dogs, for instance, are commonly used to help people who are fighting a host of anxiety-related disorders. Therefore, it only makes sense that a stuffed replica of your favorite pet can offer many of the same benefits.
It’s with this science in mind that we can begin to understand the therapeutic benefits of products offered by Cuddle Clones. The US-based company creates custom soft plush clones of your pet, capturing the physical details and unique features of any animal with a great deal of accuracy.
Handmade with high-quality faux fur, Cuddle Clones offers many of the advantages that anxiety stuffed animals have been known to provide. The lifelike quality of these stuffed animals only magnifies their benefits, offering those suffering from anxiety a familiar face, comfort, companionship, and a feeling of unconditional support.
A Cuddle Clone of your beloved pet also offers a sense of security and eases feelings of loneliness. It can help you cope with the loss of a pet while giving you a way to experience and express emotions.
Using Stuffed Animals for Professional Therapy
Animals are known to represent a source of unconditional love and acceptance for those who face severe symptoms of anxiety such as disassociation—so could the same be said about stuffed animals as well?
Rose M. Barlow from Boise State University’s Department of Psychology conducted a survey to find out.
After speaking to a number of students dealing with dissociative identity disorders, she found that most of them developed attachments to live and stuffed animals. Interestingly, those dealing with more severe cases of dissociation appeared to form stronger attachments with them.
Several professionals already use some form of stuffed animal therapy to deal with mental health illnesses. Stuffed animals are being used to help young adults get over traumatic incidents from their childhood, as well as counter the ever-growing loneliness epidemic. They’re also useful for offering those suffering from behavior disorders a purpose, something to look after, and a reason to get out of bed.
Stuffed animals for adults with anxiety can evoke a feeling of nostalgia, which in turn reduces the effect of stress in our everyday lives.
When you consider all these factors, the value that Cuddle Clones presents becomes uniquely compelling. After all, what offers more security, comfort, and familiarity for someone suffering from anxiety than a stuffed animal that looks like your pet?
Conclusion: There Are Real Benefits of Anxiety Stuffed Animals
While the matter could use more empirical in-depth studies, there is sufficient anecdotal and professional evidence to prove that stuffed animals are an effective way to deal with anxiety in adults and children. Weighted, soft objects that apply deep pressure to the body have been used for decades to help children feel calm and adults feel more in control.
With Cuddle Clones, you get all the benefits mentioned in this article, plus the added advantages of familiarity and security. Plus, when dealing with a serious issue like mental health, it’s important to realize the benefits of investing in high-quality stuffed animals for anxiety that last and provide comfortable intimacy.
Handmade Cuddle Clones, which can be customized to replicate any kind of pet (a dog, a cat, or even a rabbit), may be the perfect solution that ticks all these boxes.