Dogs and Depression: 5 Ways Your Pet Can Help You Live a Happier Life
Depression has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In fact, over 8 percent of Americans over the age of 20 suffer from depression. The number of women is even higher with over 10 percent battling depression.
Many victims turn to a dangerous dependence on prescription medicine or alcohol to alleviate symptoms. Victims should resist the urge to turn down this dark path.
Instead, there is a natural remedy that yields only positive health outcomes. Medical research shows that adopting a dog is a great way to naturally combat the adverse effects of depression.
Read on to learn how dogs and depression are related. Explore 5 ways that dogs help with anxiety and depression.
1. Dogs Help Alleviate Feelings of Loneliness
Depression symptoms are often strongest when an individual is alone. Feelings of loneliness trigger negative feelings and many people turn to vices during these times.
Medical studies show that dog owners are less lonely when accompanied by a dog. Participants in the study reported feeling less lonely the more time they spent with a dog. There was a direct correlation between happiness levels and the amount of time spent with the canine.
It is important to note that the dogs in the study were merely furry guests. Forming a bond between owner and dog is certain to alleviate loneliness to an even greater extent.
For many owners, the dog becomes more like a family member than a pet. Dogs provide both love and comfort during distressing times. With an outlet to receive comfort, the dog owner no longer feels alone.
2. Dogs Offer a Constant Distraction
When you treat a dog like a family member, it becomes a significant time commitment. For example, dogs require lots of exercise to live a healthy lifestyle.
This means a morning walk before work. For others, it means a trip to the park after work or an additional walk around the block. There are also many games to play with your canine to keep them moving and burning off energy.
In addition to all of these activities, caring for a pet includes meal preparation. Proud owners prepare healthy and wholesome meals for their dogs.
We are not referring to canned dog food either. Healthy meal preparation for your pet is a time-consuming endeavor and occurs at least 2 to 3 times per day.
Like a child, you will also be responsible for obedience training and veterinarian visits. There are many other responsibilities that come with being a dog owner that are not covered above.
Ultimately, these responsibilities keep you busy and distracted. As a result, you have less time to dwell on the things that trigger episodes of depression.
3. Dogs Improve Your Social Life
During the course of these activities, you are likely to meet and converse with other pet owners. Pets respond very favorably to frequent socialization, which in turn improves your social life.
For starters, you are likely to run into pet owners on walks and at the park. This occurs on a regular basis and relationships often form beyond a polite hello.
Socialization is an important part of your dog’s health as well, so many owners like to set up play dates. Here you can form a deeper relationship with another owner while your dogs play together.
There are many groups that form as a result of pet ownership. By joining these groups, you can take part in community events that are held and meet even more new people.
4. Dogs Encourage You to Exercise
Dogs are not the only ones that benefit from exercise. In fact, research shows that exercise is another form of treatment for depression.
Sustained, low-intensity activities like walking or jogging with your dog have profound health impacts. Besides lower blood pressure and fighting heart disease, exercise also improves brain function.
The cause and effect relationship between exercise and brain function is what alleviates depression. During low-intensity exercises, proteins are released called neurotrophics.
These proteins cause nerve cell growth, which yields new neurological connections. The byproduct of all this activity is a direct relief to the parts of the brain that regulate mood.
5. Dogs Provide New Meaning to Your Life
There is no greater responsibility than caring for another person or creature. Being a primary caretaker provides an enormous sense of achievement and meaning.
For those that feel worthless, adding a dog into your life can change everything. Becoming a dog owner gives you something to wake up to every morning.
At length, we have talked about the substantial responsibility that comes with being a pet owner. It involves giving your dog a safe and comfortable environment to live in.
Also, it means routinely feeding your dog healthy foods and managing their overall health. This type of structure is a positive thing for individuals who lack purpose.
In addition, your dog’s health management includes routine exercise and socialization. It also includes taking your dog to the veterinarian for shots and sick visits.
It may be hard to believe, but dogs experience anxiety and depression too. As the pet’s owner, you are responsible for alleviating those negative feelings.
Like humans, exercise and socialization are natural cures for depression. However, as an owner sometimes you will be responsible for giving medicine or seeking out a professional diagnosis. Here is a useful article that may help in relieving a pet’s anxiety and depression.
Your dog’s dependence on you for its well-being adds meaning to life as well. This profound responsibility is certain to reduce negative feelings that your life is without value.
Dogs and Depression – Wrapping It Up
Not many people draw the natural correlation between dogs and depression treatments. The reality is that adopting a dog is an effective and natural way to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Being a dog owner adds new meaning to your life. You are responsible for the dog’s health and happiness. Additionally, a dog needs exercise and socialization, which will be a benefit to you. If you enjoyed this article about dogs and depression, please check out our blog for other great pieces.