The amount of people with depression has been on the rise in recent years, not only in the United States but worldwide. However, pets can help with treating depression to a certain extent. Namely, animal-assisted therapy can help with certain mental health illnesses such as anxiety and symptoms of depression, etc.
But, having a pet is not a cure-all, certainly not for clinical depression and similar problems. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, has suicidal thoughts, or suffers from any type of mental or medical condition, seeking professional health should be your number one priority.
But in the meanwhile, a pet can help cheer you up, and we will go into how.
Pets Can Boost Confidence and Self Esteem
The thing about pets, certainly dogs and cats, in particular, is that they know when you are feeling sad. They can understand your emotions and often attempt to comfort you just by being there. You can talk to them without judgment, and that is one of the ways to make you feel better.
Pets can also give you a confidence and self-esteem boost since they can lift your mood and show you that they care. One of the things that happen when you play with your pet is that your levels of dopamine and serotonin elevate. In return, this can calm you down as well as offer you some relaxation. Plus, pets are also known to ease loneliness, reduce stress as well as anxiety. And pets keep you active.
Pets Are Good Distractions From the Outside World
As everyone knows, pets are a lot of responsibility. They have to be fed and taken to the vet, you need to go for walks with them, bathe them, play with them, etc. But, this can be a good thing. Looking after a pet can be a good distraction from the outside world as well as a distraction from negative thoughts.
Playing with a pet reduces stress and offers you an escape from anxiety and negative thoughts. It is something to do instead of living in your head. Plus, having a pet also offers companionship, which is necessary to fight off the feeling of loneliness that can be one of the major feelings of depression.
With a pet, you will be busy looking after them and making sure that they are okay. In doing so, you will be taking a break from your mind allowing yourself to relax. But remember to always speak to a professional about your feelings even if you feel happy at the moment.
Pets Take Us Out of Our Comfort Zone
The seasonal affective disorder is a real side of depression. It is when certain people feel depressed during certain times of the year. This is where a pet can help combat depression. A pet can take you out of your comfort zone since you have to walk them, look after them, take them to the vet, or dog park, etc. That, in turn, will expose you to more people and have you explore other places.
If you have a dog, it can lead you down some paths you have never been before while on your walks. And since all types of pets have different personalities, you will have to take time to understand them. This can also take you out of your comfort zone since you would be face to face with a creature that you have not dealt with before — one that will not judge you for anything.
Pets Develop People’s Social Skills
Another good thing about owning a pet is that it can help you with your social skills. Talking to them helps you practice your communication skills since you have to hear what you say out loud when you are opening up to a pet.
Furthermore, many people love animals. This means that when you are out and about with your darling, you may end up chatting with a few people who pass by. This is even more true in a dog park where people have little chit-chats about their pets.
Pets Make You Feel You Are Needed
Even if you do not feel like going out, you still have to if you own a pet. This can get you out of your bed since you will have a purpose. Depression includes feeling a lack of purpose, so anything that gives you one is helpful.
Pets add structure and routine to your life. This is what a lot of people need, even those that do not suffer from depression.
Pets need your attention as well as your time. They give you a purpose and make you feel needed since you are looking after them. Plus, you are also looking after yourself while taking care of them. You will also be getting exercise which can help with your health.
Pets Make You a Responsible Fur Parent
As we have mentioned, pets need you. You have to feed them, wash them, take them for walks, go to the vet, train them, etc. They are like children except for being a bit quieter. Looking after a pet will make you more responsible not only for their life but also for your own. Your pets will need you, and so your life will have a purpose and structure.
Pets’ Love Are Unconditional Love
One of the greatest things about pets is that they love you unconditionally. They show it through their:
- Being protective,
- And caring for you.
They also listen to you, and at times can understand what you are saying. Or at least what you are feeling. And everyone needs that.
One More Thing
While having a pet is great and can help with depression, remember they are not a cure-all. They can be an aid with therapy only, not the cure itself. Therefore, it is very important to speak to a professional to make the most out of pet-therapy.