Dawn Edwardson, MDST 485, Post #6, Type #1
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that depression affects approximately 40milion adults (2018). Don’t despair! This article also notes several helpful ways to address depression in order to help you feel better. Some of these helpful ways are to: see a licensed psychiatrist/psychologist, try some of the effective medications that are available(as prescribed), include daily exercise, try eating more healthy, spend time and open up with family, friends, and pets. Yes pets! Not surprising to me, this article specifically mentions that dogs can play an integral role in improving one’s emotional health.
So just how is this claim supported? Where’s the evidence? There have been several studies documented by the National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI) which show a positive correlation for Human-Animal Interaction and which support the positive effects of such a scenario. These studies share data which support the fact that dogs can increase happiness. These Human-Animal Interactions prove many positive effects such as decreased stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, it’s proven that they reduce loneliness, encourage increased exercise, promote more positive social interactions, and even aide in reducing heart rate and blood pressure. The studies note that the presence of a friendly dog help to reduce fear, anxiety and promote calmness. When in the presence of one’s own dog these effects are even stronger. Also, there is data that shows simply stroking the coat of your own dog significantly lowers systolic blood pressure and heart rate.
This article touches on three specific aspects which are significantly improved through dog ownership. Daily exercise is improved because dogs need to go for walks, they enjoy playing and interacting with their owners and others, and you’ll likely be enrolling in obedience classes. They also need to be cared for through feeding, bathing, grooming, and displays of affection such as petting. Socialization is improved through increased interactions with others while you’re out for walks or resting on a park bench with your dog. You may also meet new people while training your dog in obedience classes or at doggy daycare or playtime. These are great opportunities to connect with others and develop friendships as you’ll likely see the same people repeatedly. Self-Worth is improved through caring for your dog. In a sense, by caring for your dog you are proving to yourself that you can care not only for yourself but for others too.
Dog ownership can be expensive and not everyone’s lifestyle is conducive to it. In those situations, you could volunteer to dog sit or volunteer your time at a local animal shelter and websites like rover.com are a great way to see the many opportunities available. You can still reap the positive benefits without the long-term commitment.