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Benefits of Pets for Anxiety and Depression

Pets and therapy animals can have profound effects on their owners and can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and more.

Cats and dogs can hold a number of benefits and are a great way to deal with feelings of anxiety or stress.
Cats and dogs can hold a number of benefits and are a great way to deal with feelings of anxiety or stress.

Whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, pets can provide a number of benefits for their owners along with a sense of companionship.

In something that people call the “the pet effect” a wagging tail or a wet nose can provide you with relief and can help alleviate problems related to anxiety, depression, or stress. In fact, one survey that looked at the benefits of pet ownership, respondents said that 74 percent of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership.

The Pet Effect

Animals can have a profound effect on their owners. Specifically, pets and therapy animals can be used to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Interactions with animals can also be useful in helping manage long-term mental health conditions.

The research on human-animal interactions is still a relatively new field, however initial studies have shown that there are a number of positive health effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, interacting with animals have shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure.

The effects that animals can have on child development is something that is still being researched. Specifically, how they can help with interactions with kids who are dealing with autism, attention, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other conditions.

Moreover, according to the National Parks Services, there have been numerous studies that highlight the psychological benefits of owning and interacting with pets. Whether interactions are active or passive it “tends to lower anxiety levels on subjects, and thus decrease the onset, severity, or progression of stress-related conditions.”

Along with emotional issues, animal ownership is also associated with a number of physical health benefits. For example, there is a reduction in blood pressure that is achieved through dog ownership, this can be equal to the reduction achieved by changing to a low-salt diet or cutting down on alcohol.

“Companion animals have been shown to provide valuable physiological, psychological, and social benefits. These benefits are often especially significant in vulnerable individuals.:

Overall, pets provide great benefits for owners, not only as a sense of companionship but for emotional and mental problems such as anxiety and depression and physical issues as well.

Other Ways To Solve Anxiety

Besides cats and dogs, there are a number of other ways that you can deal with anxiety. According to the ADAA, there are many coping methods to deal feelings of anxiety or stress. A few of ways that you can deal with these issues include:

Take a break — Sometimes when your emotions or feelings of anxiety get out of control, it is best to just take a step back and get your mind off of it. In these cases, doing an activity such as yoga, listening to music, meditating, or more can help clear your head.

Limit alcohol and caffeine — Alcohol, and other substances such as drugs, can contribute to your behavioral issues and, if not handled properly, can lead to problematic circumstances such as addiction. If the problem gets severe enough, it may be best to use online resources to help with finding alcoholism treatment.

Get proper sleep — When stressed out, the body needs rest and getting the proper amount of sleep can help you deal with and get past your feelings of anxiousness.

Get exercise — We all know that exercise is good for your physical health, but it also can have positive results on your mental wellbeing as well. The ADAA recommends that you try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.

Overall, there are multiple ways to deal with your anxiety, while the best choice is a multi-pronged approach, doing anything that will improve your overall mood and wellbeing is beneficial.

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