Ways Dogs Help Keep Depression at Bay
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
– Roger Caras
The words of wisdom by the famous American wildlife photographer and writer underline the role dogs have been playing in human lives. Nowadays, dogs come in various shapes and sizes; there are big ones, small ones, furry ones, cute ones, among many others. Commonly regarded as “man’s best friend,” the bonding between humans and dogs spans 15,000 years. In this age of multiple forms of social isolation, social disconnectedness can have deleterious impacts on the person.
In such situations, the role of pets becomes immensely crucial in alleviating depressive symptoms. Through their wholehearted affection and playful gestures, pets succeed in inciting positive feelings. Several studies have shown that dogs can reduce tension and improve mood in humans. For individuals challenged with depression, having a dog alongside the normal treatment can help in coping the depressive symptoms more effectively.
They assist in reducing stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness among the people going through depression. Moreover, they encourage people to indulge in exercise, playfulness, etc., which are necessary for overcoming depression and improving cardiovascular health. But at the core of it, through their unconditional love and companionship that can be matched by none, in the short span of time they grace people’s lives.
Listed below are some ways by which having a dog in company can thwart depressive symptoms:
· Increases exercise: A research shows that behavioral intervention like exercise is good for overcoming depression. Even moderate-intensity exercise is beneficial in inciting happier mood. By having a dog around, a person grappling with the challenges of depression is more likely to take it out for a walk, hike or run that can assist him or her in completing the daily quota of exercise. Moreover, dogs can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and boost chemicals associated with feeling good.
· Offers companionship: Social isolation leads to both negative physical and mental health outcomes. Individuals living in isolation are more prone to experience loneliness and tend to suffer from the higher rates of morbidity and mortality. In addition, it is also associated with depression and cognitive decline. However, caring for a dog can make a person feel loved and wanted which provides valuable companionship that can keep the symptoms of depression at bay.
· Instills routine: Depression can make a person feel that he or she has expended more energy than he/she had. Such individuals have a harder time accomplishing daily tasks and are more likely to be demotivated. However, a person with depression can benefit from having a steady routine. Morning activities, feeding and taking the dog out for a walk can create a routine in a person’s life.
· Offers stress-relieving touch: Touch can calm the regions in the brain that respond to threat. Research has shown that physical contact like touching, hugging and holding hands can boost the level of the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and decreases the chances of heart rates. Similarly, stroking or hugging a dog can uplift the mood of individuals going through depression, and provide other health benefits.
· Opens the door to socialization: Individuals with depression are often averse to socially interacting with others and have a difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships. However, having a dog around can help these individuals in starting and maintaining new friendships. For instance, dogs are a great excuse to converse with other dog owners and allow for different sorts of interactions in pet stores, clubs and training classes.
It’s okay to be not okay
Depression is a mental disorder that is more than just feeling sad. It is also one of the most common mental disorders in the United States that affected 16.1 million adults in the age group 18 and above in 2015. It is advisable to seek treatment immediately to prevent depression from getting out of hand.
If you or your loved one is battling the symptoms of depression, it is imperative to seek professional help. The Depression Treatment Centers of California assists in accessing the best depression treatment centers in California that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our helpline number 855–678–0400 to know more about the intervention measures available for depression.