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How Dogs Can Help With Anxiety and Depression

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A look at how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.

Are you searching for relief from anxiety, depression, or stress? For those of you who live in one of the many U.S. households with a dog, you may be able to find help right in your own home in the form of a furry, happy, and wet-nosed friend with a wagging tail. As we search for how dogs can help with anxiety and depression we will hopefully see the full value of our long and fortunate history with the amazing, trusted, and loyal domesticated dog. Atlantis: learn

how dogs can help with anxiety and depression

Similar to an infant who can not yet speak, dogs communicate with us through their eyes causing a release of the bonding hormone oxytocin.

Stress is uncomfortable: how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.

Stress and anxiety are two uncomfortable states of mind that a lot of people struggle with. Sadly, so many choose not to talk about it. The very thing that could help alleviate the debilitating condition could be staring up at you and standing on four legs.

Having a dog in our lives can have so many benefits and if you already own a dog chances are you are already quite cognizant of this.

Anxiety and depression affect a huge number of people and new research suggests that 18% percent of people 18 and over in the United States suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder — that’s nearly 60 million adults. The negative effects of anxiety can show up in so many different forms, from dysfunctional patterns in relationships to compromised work performance and even the need to be hospitalized. As far as what causes anxiety, there are a number of well-known risk factors from genetic predisposition to traumatic experiences and situational factors like the ones we can run into such as at work or in relationships. A whole host of other things including the combination of occurrences that are unique to each one of us as individuals.

how dogs can help with anxiety and depression

Relieving the burden of social isolation – how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.

And then there’s anxiety’s other half: depression. When you look closer at depression you’ll find that half of the individuals that are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with some form of anxiety disorder. And even though statistically depression affects a smaller portion of society than anxiety does at 16 million adults (or 6.7 percent) to anxiety’s 40 million, it’s a critical and debilitating condition in every one of its forms.

 

It is widely known that dogs can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation. When we Interact with our dogs we can better manage our long-term mental health conditions. In a 2016 study that explored the role of pets in the social networks of people who were dealing with a long-term mental health problem researchers found that dogs can provide a sense of security through familiarity that lends increased emotional and social support. These studies have also revealed that dogs provide a catalyst that can help us to get to know new people, form new friendships and social support networks. This is one example of how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.

how dogs can help with anxiety and depression

Sometimes it can be as simple as just having a companion by your side to go on a walk or to watch your favorite show on television without complications of arguing or disagreeing on where to go or what to do. Your dog friend will be completely happy just to be with you, no words are necessary. You are the reward and knowing that can be therapeutic for your mental health all by itself.

 How dogs can help with anxiety and depression through the science of oxytocin.

Through years of researching how dogs can help with anxiety and depression, scientists believe that the major source of our positive reactions to pets comes from something known as oxytocin which is a hormone that has many functions including the stimulation of social bonding, relaxation, and trust, and easing stress. Studies have shown that when we pet a dog, not only does our brain secrete a positive chemical (also known as the “love and trust hormone”) oxytocin released (the same one we feel when we are close to a loved one), but also our levels of the stress hormone cortisol decrease. Oxytocin increases a feeling of closeness and attachment and is and vital precursor element of strong relationships. That means that for someone who is struggling with anxiety and depression, this kind of attachment with a dog has the possibility of taking them outside the hopelessness of their anxious or depressed state, and might help them to increase in optimism with a better outlook towards the future with their canine friend at their side.

A historical look at how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.

Throughout history, we are provided with numerous stories of the therapeutic benefits of companionship with dogs. These benefits are both physical and psychological and in ancient Egypt, for example, they believed that the lick of a dog could heal cuts and wounds and there may be a basis in fact for this as a dogs’ saliva contains antibacterial, antiviral substances, and other growth factors. During the 19th-century in England’s mental hospitals, dogs were used to calm patients, and in 1880 the well-known former Civil War nurse Florence Nightingale wrote that a small pet “is often an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially.’’

how dogs can help with anxiety and depression

Family and friends can certainly be wonderful and supportive when we’re experiencing the hopelessness of depression and the spirals of anxiety. But always remember that the primal connection we have with dogs, and their ability to show us so much affection can be extremely good for our state of mind contributing to our feelings of wellness and the need to be loved.

Dogs and Anxiety – Therapy With Your Dog – How Dogs Help With Anxiety

Although there are many more, these have been just a few examples of how dogs can help with anxiety and depression.