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Pets can help with depression

Greensburg Daily News - 11/22/2019

Nov. 22--Most people know the saying it's raining cats and dogs. Of course, this old adage of obscure origins refers to extremely wet days and nights when it's pouring with rain. Well, it turns out that you can help turn your own bad weather days around by showering yourself with the love of a pet.

So, what are the best pets to help with depression? Well, most of deciding what the "best" type pet is for a person comes down to the individual. But the best bet? You got it. It's most likely a dog or a cat!

How Do Pets Help With Depression?

First up, let's take a brief look at depression, and how and why pets may help with this serious illness.

Depression can affect people in different ways. The signs and symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Overall, someone depressed feels extremely sad, miserable, and low in mood.

It's no secret, or rocket science, to anyone who has ever done so the joy of living with a pet. However, there are plenty of formal research studies that have concluded that people with pets tend to be less depressed. Even though you may not consciously be aware of it all the time, some of the ways animals in our lives can help with depression include:

Unconditional love and acceptance: furry friends don't care about what material things you may or may not have. They love you just the way you are.

--Activities and diversions: taking care of the needs of another living being can help you understand the needs of another and offer time away from your own concerns.

--Routines and responsibility: caring for any animal involves having some structure and regularity in your life on a daily basis to provide their food, exercise, and so on.

--Physical wellbeing: pet studies have found that our interaction with pet affects, in a positive way, hormones that influence our mood, and our blood pressure.

What's Better -- A Dog or a Cat?

The choice of a dog or a cat, or another type of animal, ultimately comes down to you and which type you naturally bond or connect with. Dogs and cats are definitely called companion animals for a reason. They are social beings and will want your company as much as you want theirs!

Where you live, work and your overall lifestyle may also play a part in whether it is fair practical to be a companion to a pet and vice versa. Don't get too hung up on the idea of the "perfect pedigree" either. Often the best pets that you wind up sharing time with are the so-called mutts and moggies, the mixed breeds you lock eyes with instantly in an animal shelter. Love at first sight and instant attraction are real!

Dog Dedication and Devotion -- In Daily Doses

Yes, it's another old cliché, but a dog really can be a person's best friend! Most dogs are very smart and have an uncanny ability to sense the mood of someone they are close to and respond with a paw or a gentle lean against your body. Dogs also need regular exercise, which is a win-win; given exercise is a helpful tactic for reducing depression.

You might be a match with a smaller breed such as playful Pug, a Toy Poodle who likes to people-please. Or maybe a Jack Russell with an innate urge to mix and mingle. Then there's the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, companion animal to royalty and nobility for centuries.

If a medium-sized dog is more your thing, consider a happy go lucky and easy-going Labrador or Golden Retriever. Basset Hounds or Beagles are not only big-eared, but they also tend to be big-hearted and full of love. If you've got a lot of energy to burn, a Springer Spaniel can be the pup to have fun with.

Giants can indeed be gentle. In the big dog league, an Afghan Hound or Irish Wolfhound will be tall, elegant, and dignified. Saint Bernard's or Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to be sweet, affectionate, and big on cuddles.

Cats Aren't Crazy -- They're About Comfort!

English veterinarian and author James Herriot once said: "Cats are connoisseurs of comfort". Cats are wonderful teachers on how to make the most out of every day -- where to sleep, regular self-care, and healthy independence. Take the time to observe a friendly feline, and you'll soon see.

Cats also bond very closely to the people they connect with. They become as familiar with the sound and tone of your voice, as you do with theirs. Then there's the audible and vibrational sensation and the power of a cat's purr -- priceless. Cat-friendly rubs and companionship can be not only rewarding but let you know that you are not alone in the world.

Cats too can come in all shapes in sizes and unique personalities. Even-tempered and relaxed American Shorthair cats will usually also enjoy a bit of interactive play with you. Siamese cats will enjoy conversation and connecting with you one-on-one. Placid Ragdoll cats are people-oriented through and through and will literally mold into your body and sofa.

Emotional Support Animals and Depression

For people living with depression, an emotional support animal or ESA may be 'prescribed' as part of their treatment plan. Many mental health professionals recognize that animals and pets are of benefit to people's mental health.

To ascertain whether someone is eligible for an emotional support animal, they have an assessment with a licensed mental health professional in their State. If caring for an animal is considered to help alleviate someone's symptoms and ability to manage their condition, an emotional support animal may be part of an overall treatment plan.

Emotional support animals can be any type of animal or pet, but they too are usually dogs or cats. The benefits of having a dedicated emotional support animal to help with your depression are linked to a couple of federal laws in the United States. These are laws around housing and flying which offer protection for people to have their animals with them by their size at all times when they need them. -- Information provided by CertaPet


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