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Adjunctive Deep Touch Pressure for Comorbid Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder: Mediated by Control of Sensory Input?

SYLVIA, LOUISA GRANDIN PhD; SHESLER, LEAH W.; PECKHAM, ANDREW D.; GRANDIN, TEMPLE PhD; KAHN, DAVID A. MD

Journal of Psychiatric Practice: January 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 1 - p 71–77
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000442942.01479.ce
Clinical Case Discussion

Previous studies have shown that individuals with autism spectrum disorders and attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience sensory over-responsivity (SOR) in which a heightened response is evoked by stimuli in the environment. These individuals also display symptoms of anxiety such as irritability, avoidance, and sweating. Deep touch pressure, a technique in which firm touch is applied to the body either by the self or by a machine, has been shown to improve functioning and reduce symptoms of anxiety in these populations. A patient presenting with bipolar I disorder and comorbid anxiety, ADHD, and dyslexia was taught deep touch pressure strategies to alleviate severe symptoms of sensory over-responsivity and anxiety. The patient reported that the techniques were helpful as they allowed her to cope with potentially overwhelming situations in her environment. Clinician-rated functioning also improved over the course of treatment. This case study suggests that deep touch pressure may be useful in patients with bipolar disorder who have SOR and anxiety as comorbid conditions. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2014; 20:71–77)

SYLVIA: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School; SHESLER and PECKHAM: Massachusetts General Hospital; GRANDIN: Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; KAHN: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.