8 Surprising Ways Pets Help With Depression
Pets have an aura that replenishes the mind and uplifts our mood. They bring joy, laughter and enthusiasm to our lives. They also have long-lasting healing effects on those that suffer from mental health. Did you know that the mental health benefits of owning a cat and a dog have been scientifically proven by Dr. Alan Beck, a psychologist at Purdue University? In a study conducted already thirty years ago, Prof Beck and Aaron Katcher at the University of Pennsylvania proved the benefits of having the company of a dog and a cat.
1) The pet hormone game
Have you ever felt anxious or irritated because you’re hungry? Or angry and unfocused because you had not slept enough? This is because of the hormones in your body. Hormones play a big role in managing our mood. The stress, anxiety and mood swings that we experience are directly related to our hormones like serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. Pets also help reduce stress. Interacting with them lessens the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, and increases the amount of oxytocin in the body. Touching and the sensory acts of stroking pets also help to reduce stress.
2) Promote a sense of belonging
Humans enjoy the company and prefer not to stay in solitude. For the ones that enjoy solitude still prefer the company of a pet. This is because a pet acts like a caretaker, a companion. A friend that keeps us occupied, so we don’t surrender ourselves to deep thoughts of self-hatred and self-loathing.
3) Pets and self-esteem
Pet animals are compassionate towards their owners. They don’t judge our actions and love us unconditionally. They help us get through the tough times. Pets also teach us how to be more empathetic, compassionate and loving. With a pet around us, we feel like we are important and noticeable. Their attention towards us increases our self-esteem as we feel like we are valued.
4) Security and calm
A loyal companion like a dog gives us a sense of security and helps us feel relaxed and calm when we are around them. Stroking a pet releases oxytocin in our bodies and reduces cortisol which is responsible for increasing stress. Cat lovers enjoy it when the cat purrs since it is soothing and relieves stress. Pets reduce the feeling of isolation by giving physical warmth and attention.
5) Healthier habits
Pets push you to get out of your house for fresh air even when it’s the last thing you’d want to do. Due to this, we end up going out more often than usual. They channel their positivity into our dull lives and ignite a sense of freedom and accountability towards our own selves. Pets inspire us to live our life to the fullest and live every second with utmost joy and celebration.
Our senses are refreshed every time we ride a horse or go for a run with our dogs. Spending a day with your cat, grooming it and taking care of it makes us want to look after yourself as well. Working out with your dog can help with depression as exercise is good for managing periods of depression.
6) Daily routine
Every pet has its daily routine that needs to be followed. There are tasks that need to be accomplished every day. So, waking up early to accomplish these tasks every day creates a healthy routine. This is great for someone who is discouraged and lacks motivation.
7) Pet care promotes self-care
Grooming our dogs, cats, birds, horses etc, takes a lot of effort and time. It requires feeding them, cleaning their shelter, brushing their coats and, keeping a check of their food supplies. These things add more meaning to the everyday life of someone dealing with mental health. It acts as a constant reminder that they need to look after themselves likewise. The routine helps them inculcate these habits in their personal lives and encourages them to work on themselves.
8) Animal-assisted therapy
This is recommended by those who seek to find help for depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. The human-animal connection allows people to confront their emotions and address them to the animals through powerful non-verbal communication. It is rightly said that the best therapist has fur and four legs and these four-legged companions provide a life-long bond and unconditional love that humans probably can’t offer.
Having a pet in the family makes an impact in the lives of all the family members. It is especially beneficial for those that don’t trust human connections and lack emotional support in life. Pets act as friends, family, supporters to those that need compassion, love and a pinch of happiness in their lives.