How Pets Help with Depression
Almost every pet owner understands the happiness and improvement in mental health when they interact with their pets. Animals are good for people with depression because they distract you from negative thoughts by focusing on their present needs. In this article, you are going to learn how pets help with depression.
According to a study published in HABRI Central, pets help to provide emotional and social support that people with long-term mental conditions such as depression need. This is because pets help you to interact with new people, form friendships, and join social support networks within your locality.
Pets reduce Stress
Chronic stressful situations are a leading cause of depression across the world. If you don’t know how to cope with stress, then you are likely to develop long-term depression. But the good news is that pets can help you manage stress and free your mind after a difficult day at work.
Imagine that beautiful hug from your pet, when you come home tired. That joy of seeing something that cares for you and gives you the attention and loyalty that you deserve. Studies show that interacting with pets can reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Participants reported feeling happier and less distracted with negative thoughts after interacting with their pets.
Pets make you Social
Most of the time, people with depression are lonely and spend their days in self-isolation. One of the ways to reduce depression is to interact with people and share your inner thoughts. The difficult thing is approaching neighbors and making friends. Only a few people are daring enough to talk to strangers without any reason.
But with a pet, you don’t have to worry because you are instantly magnetic. People will see you as approachable because of the pet. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick in England revealed that pets make people talk to you. 65 strangers talked to a man or a woman who was out walking a dog but only 3 people talked to the same person while walking alone.
This study showed that pets can help you meet new people, and in the process, reduce social anxiety and depression. When you share your views and beliefs, you feel free and happier.
Non-verbal Communication Skills
Because pets don’t understand the verbal language unless they are trained, pet owners engage them through gestures and other non-verbal cues.
As you bond with your pets, you also hone your non-verbal communication skills. You are able to detect when your lovely pet is sad as well as when it is happy.
As you provide comfort and care to your pet, your brain reacts by releasing the happiness hormone, oxytocin. The result is reduced levels of depression.
Pets need regular exercise to maintain their health and lengthen their lives. By becoming a pet owner, you are likely to lead a healthier lifestyle full of physical activity. This is because as you take your dog for walks, you will feel the urge to exercise too.
And physical activity increases endorphins which results in reduced depression. What’s more, studies show that consistency in physical activity reduces stress levels and leads to a better sleep pattern.
Improves your Self-Worth
Responsibility boosts your mental health. Psychologists say that your self-esteem shoots up when you have a set of skills that you apply to a specific task regularly. And taking care of your pet gives you a sense of responsibility. It reassures you that you can do something great with your life.
If you don’t have a dog yet, you can try dog sitting. Attempt daycare, short walks, dog boarding, and any other skill that involves interacting with pets. The ability to improve the life of another creature is enough to reduce depression levels in your mind.
Depression is a mental condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many ways of treating depression, pets can be a great choice. This is because pets facilitate the emotional and social support that every depressed person needs. Pets make you approachable and make it easy to form friendships with neighbors and colleagues. Even better, studies show that interacting with pets reduces the levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Becoming a pet owner will drastically improve your mental health.
Author: Vincent Otieno
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