Find Out If Pets Are Good for Depression
The correlation between pets and their effects on mental health was first discovered in published work around 30 years ago by a Psychologist named Alan Beck from Purdue University and a Psychiatrist Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania. The study measured the factors affecting the human body when it is surrounded by or a host of friendly dogs.
The study found that there was significance in these aspects:
- Lowered down the blood pressure
- Slowed down the heart rate
- Breathing became staggered and normal
- The tension in muscles became relaxed
All of these amazing effects point to the fact that the levels of stress one endured went down significantly as a result of the presence of pets.
However, could these results be the same in the case of patients with depression, you may ask?
Here’s an attempt to discover the truth behind the long-term query & myth – are pets good for depression?
According to the NAMI issue of February 2018 (not significantly in the past), depression spread across the states like the rapid wildfire that set ablaze Australia. It has effectively affected about 40 million adults.
While most people turned to psychologists and psychiatrists in hopes of subduing the dearth they felt within themselves, it didn’t significantly make a world of difference. It is believed that regular exercise, activity, and medications can help, but to a certain extent. However, a noteworthy level of healing and semblance of normalcy was detected in those who owned pets.
Yes, you heard right! Dogs can play an integral role in the emotional well-being of someone undergoing treatments for depression.
A study on the Psychosocial & Psychophysiological Effects of human-animal interactions by Andrea Beetz, Kerstin Uvñas-Moberg, Henri Julius & Kurt Kotrschai showed that as a result of human-animal interaction, there were consequential amounts of decrease in levels of stress, anxiety, depression, ease in loneliness, and an encouragement to exercise and improve one’s overall well-being.
Here’s what you could stand to gain from having an interaction with pets; especially dogs, on a regular basis during your phase of depression:
- A Will To Exercise
Pets tend to keep you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle. As dogs need exercise, they’ll ensure you exercise along their side. Owning dogs is like running behind a toddler who just learned to walk. They are ever on their toes, ready to lunge at anyone and everywhere, just to keep themselves moving. Exercising tends to increase one’s levels of endorphins, which in turn aids in warding off depression. In fact, dogs are a creature of habit; they will turn this one-time exercise gig into a daily routine, which will ensure you have consistency when it comes to getting the regular exercise needed for your body and mind. Many types of research show that having an established consistency and routine helps reduce one’s level of stress while making room for better sleep.
- A Will to Socialize
Dogs, just like babies, or in fact, more than babies, are the center of most people’s conversation. Everyone loves pets, and even if they don’t, they’ll make a great conversation starter. You’ll be surprised at the nerve a stranger strikes, getting you conversing to them about your dog. This alleviates deep-seated loneliness and depressive episodes by forcing you into interacting, conversing, and socializing face-to-face. This process of socialization itself dispels a vast level of depression and gives one a reason to live by establishing companionship and friendship. When you find your companion in pets, you tend to want to care for them, and this gives you a new purpose to live each day, along with the will to socialize.
- Will Your Self-Worth
Although handling pets is a huge chore in itself, they are, in fact, an important part of one’s life. The added responsibility of taking care of pets tends to add to your mental health status by helping you to ascertain the level of responsibility that you have for your pets. Self-esteem and self-worth are often achieved through taking ownership and applying the skills learned during that phase into a specific task. It teaches you that you can not only fend for yourselves but serve as a reminder that you could serve others as well.
In fact, these three factors should be taken into consideration while still researching owning a pet dog. If you somehow can’t afford to buy a canine, you could always choose to dog-sit for friends and neighbors.
All About Pet Therapy
Today, you can have pet therapy to help with depression, wherein a guided interaction takes place between the person and a trained pet to aid in recovering from mental health disorders. Although dogs and cats are more commonly used in this type of therapy session, there are also other pets such as – guinea pigs, horses, and fishes that you may rely on to support your stress and depression phase.
Areas of Health Where Pet Therapy Can Help:
- Aids in improving motor skills and eases joint movement
- Aids in improving one’s independent movement
- Aids in improving one’s self-esteem
- Aids in improving one’s verbal communication
- Aids in an increase in willingness to join in on activities
- Aids in improving the level of human interactions
Other Areas of Significant Improvement due to Pet Therapy:
- They instantly make one much happier, less depressed, and changes one’s perspective of life, giving an improved outlook on life
- Significantly decreases the level of loneliness and isolation experienced by giving one companionship
- Blasphemously reduces boredom
- Aids in teaching important values of being empathetic and nurturing skills
Apart from the depressed, who should consider undergoing pet therapy?
- Those undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
- A plethora of residents in long-term care facilities
- Those with chronic heart failure
- Veterans undergoing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Stroke victims and those undergoing physical therapy to help regain motor skills after an accident
- Those with other mental health disorders as well, apart from anxiety, depression & PTSD
- Those institutionalized due to healthcare and retirement purposes
This is everything you need to know about pet therapy, and the importance of cultivating a home welcoming to pets is an essential lesson to learn and keep in mind for future use. So, are pets good for depression? Definitely, yes! Who can say a blatant – No, with all these facts that point to clear, YES!
See Related Article: How to Meditate for Anxiety and Stress