Pets and Mental Health
Plenty of evidence demonstrates that animals of many kinds can help to calm stress, combat anxiety, and depression in young children and among the elderly.
Many clinical settings are opening their doors to animal-assisted interventions. Definitely, the presence of pets has a positive impact on the well- being of those who suffer from mental health conditions.
As far as depression is concerned, dogs can be a good source of energy for their owners, as they encourage them to exercise and play. Playing with a dog or a cat can elevate the levels of serotonin and dopamine, which bring calm, pleasure and relaxation. The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk of heart disease and greater longevity. This fact also shows the benefits of pets in physical health.
Taking a dog for a walk can also be a way of socializing, as dog owners often stop and talk to each other. Dog owners are also able to meet new people in Pet stores, clubs, dog parks, training classes and events. People who have more social relationships and friendships tend to be mentally healthier.
Caring for a pet can also give motivation and bring a sense of achievement. These emotional consequences can be especially relevant as they make the owner feel valuable, wanted and needed. Dogs can help you to become more mindful and appreciative of the joy of the present.
As dogs require a regular schedule of feeding and exercise, this can add structure and routine to the owner’s day. Children with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) can benefit from keeping a pet, having responsibilities and being focused on what they’re doing. It also teaches them to plan and develops their sense of organization. These children can also play with the pets, releasing lots of their energy (and the pets too !!), which brings relaxation and calmness.
A study of people with Alzheimer found that spending time with therapy dogs increased time recounting memories and feelings, which helped to improve quality of life. When working with this kind of patients, it has been found an increase in social interaction and communication and a decrease in behavior problems, autistic severity, and stress. An AAT – animal-assisted therapy – is directed by a health professional and designed to help people to improve their physical, social, emotional or cognitive functions.
Having a pet brings both mental and physical health. It’s a privilege, and amazing experience and also a way to share love, companionship, and dedication!