People normally encounter different situations that may cause more bad than good. Things like financial problems, death of a loved one, dealing with serious medical conditions, the breakup of a relationship, and certain changes in one’s life can certainly cause depression. Having a family history of depression (with a pessimistic personality) can run in the genes for generations, and this too can affect one’s lifestyle and well being if not treated as soon as possible.
While many people dealing with depression turn to friends and family members for comfort and support, a new research has shown that assigning the help of an unexpected companion–a dog, may also have a positive effect on overall health and well being of a depressed individual. An award winning actress, Linda Dano is leading “Support Partners: Canine Companions,” a new program that offers practical tips on how to expand support networks by incorporating dogs into the recovery process of depression, as part of her commitment to helping people with the health condition. This program is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company together with the Psychiatric Service Dog Society.
Depression is an illness that is often associated with strong social stigma, causing people to withdraw from their lives, therefore intensifying the emotional symptoms of the illness, such as sadness and feelings of worthlessness. While a doctor, friend, or family member should form the basis of any support network, dogs can play an important role by being a constant companion to the the distressed patient. With daily walks, dogs can help reduce the emotional symptoms while possibly helping other symptoms, such as fatigue or lack of energy.
Research has shown the many potential benefits of having a dog that can correlate to areas which health care professionals believe can help people in overcoming depression. Majority of pet owners feel that their pets are extremely important whenever they are feeling sad, lonely, or depressed. The “man’s best friend,” can provide the desirable qualities as human such as listening, physical contact and empathy which helps in dealing with emotional symptoms of a depressed individual. Half of the population with dogs as companions believes that their pet makes a huge difference to their lives, ranking increased exercise and companionship as the two most important differences. Research has also shown that talking to dogs is related to greater life satisfaction and would lead to better physical and mental health.
Joan Esnayra, president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, an organization that works with mental health consumers who wish to train their dogs to assist depression management, explains that there are many simple things one can do with their dog if feeling depressed which would make them feel better. By taking the dog for a walk, it would give the person some exercise. Teaching the dogs new tricks can also give the person a sense of accomplishment, which would help them conquer feelings of depression. Our pet dogs can help with the recovery of a depressed individual by relieving the stress and anxiety that the person may be experiencing. These dogs can really give a sense of comfort, purpose, and companionship that depressed people need in order to overcome their condition.