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Can Pets Help Reduce The Symptoms Of Mental Health Issues?

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If you struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness, it may seem as though you’ve tried everything possible to find a cure. However, one of the options you may not have considered is a pet. More and more evidence is showing that pets could help reduce the symptoms of mental health issues. Below, you’ll find some of the potential benefits that pets could offer when it comes to solving mental health issues.

Pets Provide Companionship

One of the best ways that pets can help reduce the symptoms of mental health issues is by providing companionship. Feelings of loneliness lead to depression. Many people associate loneliness with aging people, but they are not the only group of people who suffer. People who move away from home for the first time or move to a new city for work are both predisposed to suffering from loneliness. Pets provide companionship because you can:

•           Care for it and protect its’ health

•           Talk with it

•           Go for walks and engage in physical activity

 A couple of years ago, Cat Protection teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation and surveyed people with cats in their home. The survey found that nearly 90 percent of respondents said that their cat had a positive impact on their life. More than two-thirds of respondents said that they could “cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.” 

Pets Reduce The Symptoms Of ADHD

It’s not just adults who could benefit from having a pet in their lives. Doctors believe that owning a pet is an excellent remedy for children with ADHD. The responsibility of a pet forces children to focus on scheduling and planning ahead. Many parents find that once their children grow acclimated to the dog’s schedule, which could include things like going for a walk, feeding, and grooming, their child finds it easier to abide by their own agenda for things such as:

•           Homework

•           Chores

•           Extracurriculars

Researchers also believe that pets are excellent for children with ADHD because they are great listeners and offer unconditional love. Pets will never criticize a child who is “hyped up.” Pets could be an excellent way to help build a child’s confidence. 

Pets Make Us Feel Good

The phenomenon behind pets helping with mental health issues is backed by science. Studies have found that seeing our pets releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good. When we see our pets, we also release serotonin as well. These chemicals provide us with a calming, relaxing sensation.

This is also backed by research that shows that when in a stressful situation, people with pets have lower blood pressure than those without pets. Additionally, seniors over the age of 65 who own a pet make 30 percent fewer visits to the doctor’s office than those who don’t.

Emotional Support Animals

Many people find that their landlord will not let them own a pet. This is common for people who are renting. Furthermore, people tend to face issues when traveling. Their pet may not be allowed with them on the plane or in the hotel. If you use your pet to help treat your mental health issues, the mere thought of going a few days without companionship could be devastating.

If this is the case, you may want to look into emotional support animals. A mental health professional can designate a pet as an emotional support animal with a letter of recommendation that outlines your need for the animal. If a doctor has diagnosed you with mental health issues, designating your beloved pet could help ensure you receive therapy no matter where you go.

36 COMMENTS

  1. My dog was my rock through my divorce. I had to make the horrible choice to send him to the Rainbow Bridge in December. I miss him so much!

  2. This tells a lot about how human and animal companionship helps us both. I know my cats have always helped me feel more mentally present and cared about.

  3. There’s nothing like a pet’s unconditional love. I know that our cats and pup have brought countless memories and always bring a smile to our faces, even after a stressful day at work or school.

  4. My cat definitely has a calming affect on me just by looking at him, then his plush fur definitely helps keep me in the moment!

  5. Yes they most definitely help reduce mental stress. My dog kept me company last year when I couldn’t see anyone.

  6. I don’t “people” well. I’ve got some emotional regulation issues and I don’t have to worry about whether or not I am feeling the right thing and at the right time when I am hanging out with my cat.

  7. I fully believe this. My mother’s dogs saved her when her husband and my sister died. They keep her going and soothe her.

  8. Pets are so important! I definitely believe that seeing them releases dopamine. I work in the mental health field and see how wonderful emotional support animals are for our kids

  9. Let me tell you, I’ve had my puppy for a week and I can already say hes greatly helped with my social anxiety. I found myself not even worrying about going to a gathering because by bringing my puppy I could focus on him rather than how to maintain conversation.

  10. I absolutely believe and have for a very long time that pets really DO help relieve and reduce the symptoms of mental health issues. This pandemic has been trying on me, and I lost my old boy kitty last year in May. 🙁 He lost his female black cat just 3 months later. However, we still have his two remaining female cats and since we met I’ve established a close loving bond with the two of them and even made Geenie into a lap cat! She never did this with my spouse. I’ve had struggles with mental health issues recently during this pandemic and having them around and having snuggle/cuddle sessions helps me feel better. : )

  11. I have 2 dogs and they are so loving and calming, there’s no stress after coming home from a hard day. Animals love you no matter what and do not judge.

  12. I know my dogs bring me so much happiness and when feeling stress they help me settle. I had no idea that they could also be so helpful with people with ADHD as well.

  13. Yes they reduce stress and we can return the favor for them when they are scared during a storm or whatever. My fur babies are always waiting by the door for me when I come home and hang out wherever I am so it is a win win for all of us.

  14. Pets really help us cope with everyday stress, especially when this pandemic is all over the place. I feel so lucky to have a pet in my life who is always there for me – no matter what.

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