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Pets and Depression - Can a Pet Help With Depression?

Overcoming depression is a continually sought after journey for some people.  The signs of depression may not be outwardly evident to family, friends, or co-workers but they inwardly torment the person dealing with depression.  The good news is that getting a pet is one of many great natural remedies for depression.

How Do Pets Help with Depression and Anxiety?

Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, says "pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression.”  Pets give you something to live for by making you responsible.  Caring for another living creature improves your sense purpose and creates a feeling of being needed; this is one potential way to overcome depression naturally.

Pets offer affection and companionship and are excellent listeners.  Pets are entertaining, jovial, and silly so they distract you from negative thoughts.  Pets get excited when you come through the door.  A cat’s purr or a dog climbing up the pet stairs to greet you on the couch is a form of affection that works wonders to comfort you when you are suffering from loneliness and depression.

Can Dogs Help You Overcome Depression?

Dogs help with depression in interesting ways.  Having a dog gets you outside and walking when you might’ve rather stayed indoors alone.  Some people who suffer from depression or anxiety often isolate themselves; turns out that having a dog can be an ice breaker and the first step towards meeting new people.  In a study that was conducted in 2000 by researchers at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, 65 strangers stopped to speak with a man or woman out walking a dog, while only three people stopped to talk to that same person walking alone. This indicated to the researchers that having a dog can help people with social anxiety get out into the world and meet new people.

Pets for Anxiety Relief

Even if getting a cat or dog isn't a wise choice, either physically or financially, other animals could help your stress management. Caring for a bird or fish could also improve your mood by creating responsibility and a new focus.  Studies have shown that watching fish can lift your spirits, lower your pulse and ease muscle tension.

According to Alan Beck, the director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, “All people report feeling less lonely in the presence of animals - even birds. Animals are good for everyone, but particularly for anxious and depressed people. For one thing, pets keep us anchored in the present and distract us from negative or anxious thoughts.”

Dealing with Depression in your Pet

Believe it or not, while a pet may be helping you overcome your depression and anxiety, you may also be helping a pet overcome their own.  Depression in dogs and cats is a real thing with noticeable symptoms such as low energy, withdrawn behavior, and poor appetite.  Amongst other things, dog depression and cat depression can come from separation anxiety, loneliness, or old age.  Many elderly pets can’t do the things they once could; jumping to their favorite spot on the couch is no longer possible.  In these situations, the use of pet stairs can allow your pet to get back to their favorite spot beside you.  Whether they are comforting you or you are comforting them, using steps for dogs and cats will keep you both together when you need each other the most.

If anxiety or depression is keeping you from reaching your full potential, consider a pet as a natural remedy option for getting your life back in order.  And, make sure your new dog or cat has their very own set of pet stairs so they can happily and safely comfort you in your times of need.

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