Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Feeling Depressed? There’s a Dog for That

Written by Zoe Santoro on . Posted in Blog

Sometimes when you’re down, all it takes is a lick to the face or a furry cuddle to lift your spirits. But what if your stress runs deep, if you’re anxious and nervous to leave the house, and find yourself depressed or even suicidal—can a dog still help bring you back?

There are many stories about how dogs have helped individuals with depression; Julie Barton’s poignant memoir Dog Medicine is among the best-known. What’s exciting is that formal research also shows that service and companion animals are effective at treating depression and anxiety, as well as improving overall health.

It’s possible to train a dog for service certification without going through an organization, though it takes a lot of work. A well-reviewed guide like this one is a good starting place. Also, certain breeds are more commonly used for service work, but many different breeds can make wonderful therapy animals. Not sure of a dog’s breed makeup? Dog DNA tests can provide valuable insight. This test receives high marks for accuracy.

How Service Dogs Help Humans with Anxiety and Depression

Written by Zoe Santoro on . Posted in Blog

Often timThe therapeutic power of pets is well documented and having an animal can help lift your anxiety or depression. Photo courtesy of The Elizabeth Hospice.es, those with depression or anxiety avoid contact with the outside world, either out of fear or stress of what might happen.

“Anxiety and depression involve emotional turmoil and negative internal ‘self-talk,’” Dr. Katie Kangas, co-founder of the Pet Wellness Academy, explains. “These thoughts typically spiral into unrealistic negativity and this continues in a vicious cycle.”

Dogs help break that cycle by providing comforting companionship and a sense of purpose for their owners.

THERAPY DOGS MUST WEAR SPECIAL HARNESSES.

Dr. Kangas and Certified Behaviorist Colleen Demling weigh in on some of the other ways dogs can help those suffering from depression:

  • Responsibility for their well-being. “A dog needs to be fed, needs to be walked, and needs to be pet, so on days when a person feels least motivated, a thump of a happy tail motivates a person to get back to living,” Demling says.
  • Unconditional love. “This 100% acceptance without judgment when a person is depressed, anxious, lonely, wearing the same clothes as yesterday and can’t get out of bed helps people feel like they have a true friend during their difficulties,” Demling says.
  • Recognize signs of a panic attack. “The mere presence or non-reaction to a stimulus of a trusted companion often calms an attack,” Demling explains. “Dogs can also be trained to use passive methods to block strangers from approaching their handler unexpectedly.”
  • Staying connected. “In today’s society, with the advance of internet and technological connection, we are losing real interpersonal connection, and that is contributing to more emotional problems and disorders,” Dr. Kangas explains. “Love and connection does exist in the world, and animals are a great resource to find this within one’s life.”