Did you know that there are therapy dogs for depression and anxiety that can make it easier for you to deal with the symptoms of these disorders?
Various studies have concluded that people with mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, are at an increased risk of developing chronic medical conditions. On average, Americans with mental illnesses die 25 years earlier than people without these ailments. If you are living with mental health issues, seeking out professional help is vital. For years, mental health professionals have used therapy dogs for depression and other mental disorders.
Read below to find out how therapy pets can help with conditions like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Establishing a Sense of Purpose
Oftentimes, people living with depression feel like they have no purpose in life. This lack of purpose usually puts them in an emotional tailspin. Mental health professionals found that depressed individuals who were given therapy pets found their sense of purpose in caring for their animal.
Being responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of another living being is a very powerful thing. Knowing that a pet is depending on you can provide you with the motivation you need to get up and get active even when you feel depressed.
Therapy Pets Can Be Trained to Recognize Signs of Panic Attacks
Having a therapy dog can be particularly effective for the individuals suffering from panic attacks caused by PTSD. The pets that are given to soldiers returning from war are usually trained to recognize the signs of a panic attack. Usually, the person experiencing the panic attack will be comforted by the presence of their animal.
Animals trained to deal with these attacks will use passive methods like blocking approaching strangers from getting near their owner. Receiving this type of help in the midst of a panic attack can lessen its severity and allow you to regain your composure quickly.
A Regular Schedule Is a Good Thing
Having a therapy pet can also help a person struggling with depression when it comes to developing a routine. Every day, a dog will need to be fed, walked and cared for in a number of different ways. Having a routine is a great way for a person struggling with depression to get their mind off of their problems for a while.
The Power of Unconditional Love
Receiving 100% acceptance without any judgement is what some people need to overcome their depression and anxiety. If you suffer from depression, you know all too well how lonely life can be at times. Having an animal companion around can help you get out of your head for a while and enjoy the time you spend with them.
A dog is a very loyal animal and provides their owners with unconditional love. Most people who have therapy pets claim their animals have saved them in some of their darkest moments.
Spending Time with a Therapy Pet Is Relaxing
As any pet owner will tell you, spending time with animals is very relaxing. Sitting down and petting a dog or a cat is a great way for a person to calm down. Contact with an animal helps to increase the oxytocin levels in the body, which in turn reduces cortisol levels.
For years, scientists have linked higher cortisol levels to increased amounts of stress. In a recent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, people who suffered from severe depression claimed they felt more relaxed and less lonely after short visits with their therapy pet.
Getting Outside Is Essential
Exercise is one of the best things a person with depression can do to lessen the severity of their condition. While it may be hard for a person to motivate themselves to go outdoors, they are more likely to do so if they have a therapy pet.
Regular walks with your dog is a great way to introduce more physical activity into your life. This is another way how therapy dogs for depression help their owners beat the illness.
The Connection with a Therapy Pet
In the modern world, people use the internet for social interaction. While this is a great way to reach out to friends and family who live far away, it reduces the number of interpersonal connections you have. Staying grounded when living with depression or anxiety can be easy when establishing a connection with a therapy pet.
Many mental health professionals believe the rise in depression and anxiety is due to a lack of interpersonal relationships. Establishing a real connection with your therapy pet can help reduce the number of mental health problems you face.
As you can see from the above, therapy dogs for depression and anxiety can help you deal with these mental disorders and their symptoms. Taking care of a dog can be difficult when you suffer from mental illness. However, it is certainly rewarding because of the positive emotions and unconditional love you receive from your pet.