Depression and Dogs

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Depression and Dogs

Jordan Wood, Reporter

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There are many ways to treat depression, whether that be psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups or just having someone to talk to. But the unfortunate reality is, not everyone has that person they can go to. Phys Org reports that 3 of every 4 Americans are lonely. And this, unfortunately, was not the highest numbers I saw, just the most recent.

 

Luckily, there is a cure. That cure has four legs and will eat anything that crosses their path. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 74% of pet owners report their mental health improving and 75% reporting that a friend or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.

 

“I adopted a dog because my son has anxiety.” says Megan Leonard, owner of a 5 year old labradoodle named Dory. “And I thought that having a pet would help him feel like he always has somebody with him and wouldn’t feel so alone.”

 

“I think he has brought a lot of happiness to our family.” says Kathy Heintz, who owns just eight month year old labradoodle. “He’s always happy to see you, he forces us get out everyday and he makes you feel loved and wanted.”

 

When asked if pet ownership has improved their mental health, both confidently say “yes.”

 

Adopting a new dog or cat gives owners a boost in self-esteem. After all, someone is depending on you. This is especially important for dog owners under 18 and above 65, as these are the years in people’s lives that they are most desperate for that sense of responsibility

 

According to the Newport Academy, pet owners blood pressure went down, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular and muscle tension relaxed — these are all signs of reduced stress. They also encourage regular exercise and can even serve as an excuse for you to meet new people!

 

Adopting a new pet is a huge commitment, and many families aren’t financially or practically able to care for one. Fortunately, dog sitting or volunteering at a dog shelter, can give you the same source of joy while avoiding the huge responsibility that comes along with it.

 

Pets can be a great addition to any family. Depending on what level of responsibility you are ready for, adopting a new dog, cat, horse, hamster or fish can significantly improve your mental health.

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