Dogs don’t need degrees in order to help people suffering from depression; they’re naturally therapeutic.
Service dogs that help the physically disabled must be specially trained and certified, but therapy dogs for people with mental illness need no special training whatsoever. Dogs provide emotional support with their loyalty, affection, and companionship.
So how exactly do dogs help people with depression?
- Stress relief. Petting a dog is physically soothing, mood boosting and stress relieving. An American Heart Association study found that petting animals actually lowers blood pressure.
- Lower loneliness. Dogs will love you unconditionally. That means no matter what, they’ll be your constant companion. At the end of a long, hard day, they’ll be there to love you!
- Routine. Dogs are a big responsibility, and that’s a good thing! You’ll have to stick to a schedule of walking and feeding them. This required regularity can help you from slipping into a slump.
- Improve your social life. Having a dog will keep you from becoming socially isolated from other people. You’ll find yourself exchanging pleasantries with other dog owners you see out on walks or playing in the park. Also, your dog’s silly shenanigans will be a great source of lunchtime conversation with coworkers.
- Outdoor activity. Your dog needs to be walked. Walking the dog gets you a regular dose of two things that have been proved to ease symptoms of depression- time in nature and exercise. Sun and fresh air are both mood boosting and exercise, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the neighborhood, is energy boosting and stress relieving.
If you can’t own a pet, you can still get some therapeutic time with animals. With 62% of American families owning a pet, you’re bound to have a pal with a four legged friend. Offer to watch your friend’s pets for an afternoon every once in a while to get a dose of furry therapy. Another option is volunteering at a local animal shelter. Helping out will be good for you and good for the animals! It’s a win-win.
Watch this video to learn more about how any kind of pet can be good for your mental health:
If you or a loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of depression, please call us at 1-844-283-3649 or visit here for information on participating in our studies.
Source: Dogs for Depression