The scientifically proven health benefits of pet ownership are staggering. This is especially true when dealing with depression, because pets help to combat many of the main pillars of the disease. Our four-legged friends in particular can have a dramatic effect on our mental health by:
Boosting our mood
Giving us a sense of purpose
Providing distraction from negative thoughts
Providing companionship to fight loneliness
Promoting physical interaction (touch) to reduce stress & anxiety
Encouraging exercise and easing social anxiety
Adding joy and playfulness to our lives
Providing unconditional love
In a survey conducted by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, a whopping 74% of pet owners said that having a pet has improved their mental health. It’s been proven that three of the four chemicals in our brains responsible for happiness (serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) are elevated in pet owners because they are released on a daily basis after interaction with pets.
This research has led to the use of companion animals, the development of pet therapy in hospitals and nursing homes, and the growing popularity of equine therapy, dolphin therapy and even goat yoga! Yes, goat yoga. It’s now taking place in almost every major city in the United States. via Goat Yoga, the latest craze – CBS News
Pets have such a positive influence on our metal health. The proof is all around us. Take a look next time you go to a professional building like a doctor or dentist’s office. Nine times out of ten you will find a fish aquarium in the waiting room, because fish promote relaxation. We know it can help you deal with depression, so what are you waiting for?
Give some serious consideration to adding a pet to your life. If the pros outweigh the cons for you, it’s a no-brainer. You new weapon to fight depression awaits! However, if your household or lifestyle is not conducive to pet ownership, you can get your “pet fix” in many other ways. Take visits to the local dog park, pet store, zoo or aquarium. Volunteer at an animal shelter, Humane Society or Pet Rescue. There are always opportunities to interact with animals. Enjoy!
Read more about the Pet Effect via Alleviating Anxiety, Stress and Depression with the Pet Effect | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA