Depression affects millions of people every day. The symptoms can feel debilitating and endless. While there are many different options for treatment, there is one that’s a bit more fun than the others. Owning a dog has been shown to improve depression symptoms. How could that be? Take a look at a few ways dogs can help improve your mental health.
Taking care of a pet will give you a boost in confidence. Greer Grenley, a contributor for nami.org explains this in more detail. He writes, “Dogs can be a lot to handle, but research shows that responsibility helps your mental health. Some psychologists say that you build self-esteem by taking ownership and applying skills to a specific task. Taking care of a dog offers reassurance that you can care for another creature and for yourself.”
Dogs can help ease the symptoms of depression by forcing their owners to go outside. When you take your dog on a walk, to the dog park or any other outdoor adventure, you’re also helping your depression. Exercise is a known tool to help improve mental health. The endorphins released while exercising can help you feel better. Additionally, when you’re out in the sun, your body is receiving Vitamin D. This vitamin works like a hormone and studies have shown that it helps improve depression symptoms. If taking responsibility for a dog will help you get out of the house more, than it’s a no brainer. Get yourself a dog!
Depression can often result in disconnecting or isolating yourself from your loved ones. This leads into the next reason why dogs can help improve your mental health. Even when you want to be away from other people, you can’t isolate yourself from your pet. On your worst days, animals will still offer you companionship, love, support, and acceptance. These things are much needed by people struggling with their mental health. Dogs cannot judge or critique you. Animals offer love in a way that isn’t overwhelming or complex. When you form a bond with your pet, it gives you a sense of purpose and connection. Your relationship with your dog can serve as a reminder of how loveable you are.
Does your mind tend to run in a continuous negative loop? Do you tend to replay problems, worries and insecurities through your mind all day long? When you’re struggling with your mental health, it sometimes feels like an uphill battle to control your negative thoughts. It’s ultimately an incredibly frustrating and draining experience. Dogs can serve as the perfect distraction. When you have something else to focus on, you can trick your brain into taking a break from the negativity. Caring for and loving an animal is a fun and rewarding distraction.
Mental health issues can be incredibly challenging to work through. You don’t have to go it alone. Find yourself a furry companion to help combat the symptoms of depression.