There are different types of depression. However, it can be good to understand how many people suffer from depression in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder affects 16.1 million American adults. The ADAA states that this type of depression is actually the leading cause for disability in the United States as well.
There are many different types of medications that people can be prescribed to treat their depression. However, there are some people who can’t take these types of medication due to negative reactions or other conditions. Some people would rather have holistic ways to treat their depression. Dogs can help with that. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, dogs can help to ease depression symptoms. They can fill emptiness, voids in one’s life, depression, sadness, hollowness, and so much more. Dogs can help to stabilize and improve people’s moods as well.
Dogs can help people who suffer from a range of mental health illnesses. Having a dog can truly change someone’s life. When suffering from and trying to treat depression, the brain needs more serotonin. Having more serotonin can improve moods, lift spirits, and create a happier state of mind, too. Taking care of and having a dog in your life can do this for you. How is that possible? Well, there are many ways a dog can ease depression symptoms.
Offering Unconditional Acceptance and Love
Dogs don’t critique people. Even if you are angry with your dog, they will still snuggle with you and love you. There have been many studies done that show those who spend quiet, alone time with a dog will feel less lonely. This is because when you are alone with your dog, you can talk to them, without the worry of judgment. You can tell them all about your deepest secrets and thoughts that you may not want to share with others.
Research also shows that petting dogs increases oxytocin, which is considered to be the “love hormone”. If you need to feel better, petting your dog can help. Think about it for a minute. When someone hugs you or gives you a massage, you feel better. This happens the same way when you pet your dog. You are promoting attachment which reduces feelings of hopelessness. Doing this can help you feel less depressed.
Receiving unconditional acceptance and love from a dog can give you more than you may realize. It is a primal need to feel loved and accepted. Everyone wants this to some degree or another. There is a reason dogs are considered members of the family. It is because of all the love and acceptance they can give. A dog-human relationship is one that is often stronger than human-human relationships. Dogs won’t inflict emotional pain on you. They will help you see that unconditional love is possible.
Most people who are depressed have negative behaviors as well. They may isolate themselves or be constantly irritated. Consider this scenario. You get home from work. Everything that happened during the day annoyed you and now you are exhausted. You are ready to yell at anyone who speaks to you. However, the first thing that happens as you step into your home, is your dog comes up and wants you to pet him. You reach your hand out, pet him, and he gives you kisses. This attention is just what you need. You smile and you don’t feel the need to yell anymore. You are still frustrated, but you feel much better. Now, you feel calmer and more at ease. Your breath slows down. You can think clearly. Those who suffer from depression can greatly improve their behaviors if they have a dog in their life.
Anyone who suffers from depression needs to find some way to distract themselves. They need distractions from their negative thoughts and overwhelming feelings. Dogs can give you that. Spending time with a dog can be just like watching your favorite movie. It can be just like reading your favorite book. Spending time with your dog gets you out of your own head for a bit. For many who suffer from depression, distractions are one of the only effective types of therapy.
There is no denying the power of touch and how much it can help to heal someone. Research shows that getting a forty-five minute massage lowers stress hormones and improves the immune system as well. Hugging someone also increases oxytocin within the body. This is the natural chemical that reduces the amount of stress you have. Oxytocin also reduces the heart rate and blood pressure too. Holding hands is another way to reduce stress. As you can see, touching in many ways, can reduce stress. Those who suffer from depression often have high levels of stress. Touching your dog, petting them for 20 minutes or more a day, can reduce your stress level. Kind of a personal rehab in a moment.
Having a dog means you must be responsible for them. Research shows that responsibility helps to improve mental health. This research also shows that self-esteem is boosted by becoming responsible for something. By taking care of and spending time with a dog, you continue reinforcing your self-esteem.
You need to have structure in your day when taking care of a dog as well. Your dog needs let outside to go potty. They need you to take them on a walk and play with them outdoors. Giving them a structured routine helps to train them. The structure helps you as well. It can give you a reason to get out of bed. The structure you create promotes even more responsibility which even further reduces the depression symptoms you have.
Reduced Blood Pressure
Dogs can help to lower your blood pressure as well. Many people who suffer from depression have high blood pressure levels. This is due to the high amount of anxiety and stress they experience. The good news is that dogs can help to reduce your blood pressure. When you get unconditional love and acceptance from your dog, you can feel more at peace with yourself. You can feel calmer knowing they will never judge you. This reduction in blood pressure can help to reduce some depression symptoms as well.
When someone has depression, it is helpful to exercise. Regular exercise can help to reduce depression symptoms. One of the things that can motivate and encourage you to exercise is having a dog. Dogs need exercise just as much as humans do. They need to go on regular walks and get outside to run. Even walking your dog around the block can help to reduce depression symptoms. You can also take them on hikes with you or to run a 5k. There are many dog parks where you can take your dog to exercise as well. Reaping the benefits of exercising with your dog can be amazing.
As someone who suffers from depression, you might be impressed with just how much better you feel when exercising with your dog. You can have reduced anxiety, stress, and depression. You will be reducing your blood pressure levels. Exercising will increase your endorphins which helps to fight off the depression. You will feel grateful for your dog as well.
Some people with depression sleep too much and others might sleep too little. The good thing is that having and taking care of a dog can help to improve your sleep schedule. There are many ways in which this can happen.
If you are one of those who suffer from depression that sleeps too much, having a dog can help. Your dog needs to be on a routine. They will need to go potty first thing in the morning, every few hours, and right before bed. You won’t be able to sleep in until one in the afternoon or go to bed at six in the evening. Your dog needs you to be on a routine with them.
Are you one of those who suffer from depression that sleeps too little? If so, having a dog can help with that as well. The routine you get into with your dog is going to create structure in your day. Spending time with your dog right before you go to bed and cuddling with them is going to help you relax. You may even want to have your dog sleep in the bed with you. This might help you feel safe, secure, and calm. All these things are going to help induce better sleep.
Let a Dog Reduce Your Depression Symptoms
Struggling with depression is one of the most difficult things you may ever have to go through. Depression can suck the life right out of you. It can make you constantly anxious and stressed. Depression can take every bit of energy you have. It can destroy your relationships. However, there is something you can do that could help you to reduce depression symptoms. Having a dog could be your solution, your therapy.
Dogs can give you unconditional acceptance and love. They are there for you, even when you think nobody else is. They will never judge you. Dogs can help to change your behaviors. Spending time with your dog can help to reduce irritability. Having a dog can distract you from your depressing thoughts. Dogs can promote touch, encourage responsibility, reduce blood pressure, encourage exercise, and improve your sleep. By reaping these benefits, you can feel much better.
For many people, it can be difficult even to admit they are depressed. They are afraid to ask for help, mostly because they don’t want to be judged or critiqued. The good news is while you seek out private treatment, your dog can help to reduce some of your depression symptoms as well. They can tend to your emotions and help you feel more at peace. Dogs can promote feelings of positivity and happiness. They can help build your self-esteem and improve your life in so many ways. If you are suffering from depression, now may be the time to consider getting a dog, if you don’t already have one. If you do already own a dog, make the time to spend with them. Whenever you are feeling down, pet your dog and cuddle with them. Let their love and acceptance help you to feel better.