Can Caring For A Dog Or Other Pet Help With Depression And Anxiety?

Pet owners will tell you that their furry friend brings a lot of joy to their life. But what even they might not know is that sharing your life with a beloved pet can have significant benefits to both your physical and mental health.

The bond between man (or woman) and dog is noted in books, movies, and even songs. Dogs are considered the most loyal friend a person can have, and dog owners often consider “Fido” to be a trusted family member. More recently, scientific studies have shown the far-reaching benefits of those relationships that some studies say can improve heart health.

Hugging, snuggling, and petting your dog or cat is soothing. Human beings have an inherent need for touch. It helps one relax, reduces the anxiety and stress of daily life, and improves overall mood. Taking regular long walks with your dog is good cardio exercise for both pet and “master”. Better physical health often means better mental health. People suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD can improve their mental health by having a daily routine and healthy exercise plan. Pets need a consistent balanced life routine which makes it important for the mental health patient to be responsible for staying on track for their furry friend.

Hiking, running, walks on the beach or playing in the dog park, even long drives in the car, getting out in fresh air is essential for dogs. Dog owners get to do those things with their beloved pal. These activities add joy to the pet owner’s life and are excellent stress reducers. Getting regular heart healthy exercise can also lead to weight loss and stave off illnesses like diabetes and other physical ailments. Regular exercise can boost the immune system and increase overall energy. It’s good for the pet and human companion.

Dog parks, pet owner clubs, and even training classes offer ways to meet other fellow pet owners. Making friends with other pet owners can help improve mental health and create a much needed community and personal interactions for people suffering with depression and loneliness.

Companionship for older folks, single people, and even children can lead to a happier less lonely life. Pets need you and being needed can give a person suffering with mental illness a reason to be more active. Pets need to be cared for, fed, walked, bathed, and loved. And they love you back. They don’t judge us and they can interpret our moods from our body language and tone of voice.

Studies show that pet owners can have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and are less likely to be stressed out by small annoyances. They often have elevated levels of dopamine and serotonin. They are, overall, calmer and more relaxed. There are even studies indicating that people who have suffered a heart attack live longer if they have a pet than people who are not pet owners and aging pet owners make as much as 30 percent fewer doctor visits.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety and would like to speak to a licensed professional, please reach out to us at Advantage Mental Health Center We are located in the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area but can help you discover ways to combat mental health issues wherever you are.

Picture Credit: Freepik