dog on the grass

A Word for Those with Depression: Dogs Can Alleviate (Not Cure) Those Ill Feelings

There are growing studies that showed the effectiveness of having dogs in your home on your well-being. Apparently, dogs play an important role in the emotional well-being of depressed people. They reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, and help lower blood pressure. They can elevate the presence of the hormones oxytocin and dopamine, which create positive feelings. Although there are naysayers about how the ownership of dogs shows no sign of helping depressed people, accounts from those with mental health problems themselves will say otherwise.

But before you go to the pound or look for a dog to adopt, remember that you have to choose the breed of the dog you are going to welcome into your new home. Small dogs are more dependent on their owners. They rely on you for everything. Are you sure that you can take on more responsibilities? If not, you will be better off with larger breeds that can do more for themselves.

Be wary also of dogs who are equally depressed. If they are also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, that can be more of a problem than a way to take care of your well-being. Dogs are sweet and gentle creatures, but they can be the opposite if they are not mentally and emotionally healthy.

While dogs have a positive effect on depressed people, they are not a cure. You cannot expect to be magically happier and more satisfied with your life because you now own a dog. It takes a lot of time and help for you to get better. You will get there eventually, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Instead, dogs will provide some sense of comfort, structure, and camaraderie.

Adds Routine to Your Day

Your dogs are going to be a part of your routine every day. You will buy dog food and treats for them when the bag is almost empty. There are going to be play dates with other dogs. Not to mention, you’ll have to walk them every day around the block. Even when you aren’t feeling it, you will force yourself to stand up and do what your dogs need you to do. This adds a sense of structure and calmness to your day. Sure, there are still going to be terrible days, but the routine with your dog will add needed predictability to your life.

Increases Exercise

People with depression often find themselves unable to do anything but lie on the bed. You don’t usually see them in the gyms or public parks. They do not have the energy to do healthy things such as eating the right food and exercising. But with dogs as their responsibility, they will need to take them for a walk in the park. They will hike and move around. Exercising is a great way to bond with your dogs, as well as a solid foundation for feeling better in the future.

dog with a woman

Provides Companionship

Isolation and loneliness trigger depression. Surrounding yourself with family and friends who love you will do a great deal of alleviating these ill feelings. The companionship that dogs provide you can add years to your life. Being responsible for a dog will add purpose to your life. They will take your mind off your problems, helping you focus on living and being.

Gives Sensory Relief

Do you notice that you feel better when someone gives you a hug? That’s why the pandemic has had such a negative impact on people. That loss of touch and movement add to the stress and anxiety of being away from people you love and want to spend time with. A dog snuggling beside you will add warmth to those lonely days and nights.

Helps with Socialization

People with socialization problems will do well with dogs by their sides. They are instant conversation starters. They help you meet new people such as those in the dog park. Sometimes, people will stop you as you walk your dog to ask some questions about its diet, breed, activities, and training. You can even join a club about dogs.

Dogs are not going to cure or treat your mental health issues. They are not the only answer to your problems, but they can help. It is in the nature of dogs to provide those positive feelings you often encounter when you see them in the park or bumped into them in the streets. But as to address your problems, it’s still going to take more than dogs to get you to a healthy track.

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