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Pets and Mental Health – Mental Health Awareness

Posted May 09 2010 6:00am
This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Mental Health Awareness

I love having a dog. For me, that unconditional love and acceptance I get from them is irreplaceable. Just petting Minnie’s little head, or having her curl up under the covers with me makes me feel good.  I can talk to her and she listens, at least I think she does. She seems to know when I am not feeling well, because she will curl up next to or on me and comfort me.

She keeps my mind busy and occupied because of the care she requires.  Clipping her nails, giving her baths, and throwing toys for her.  I love giving her baths.  She smells so good afterward and the way she runs around like a maniac after I finish bathing her makes me laugh.  I love what she does to get my attention.  When I have my computer in my lap and she has decided that she needs me, she will climb up in my lap and drop her toy on my keyboard.  She never gets mad at me and she is very easy to please. She is a good companion and does a lot in helping me maintain a positive attitude.

Pets can be good for our mental health.  A pet cannot cure depression or anxiety, nor is it a substitute for medication or talk therapy.  However, a pet can help improve mild to moderate depression in some people, as well as being helpful for people with anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders.

  • Pets can help ease loneliness or isolation. They accept us for who we are and do not judge us.  They also help us stay connected with other people, by providing us with a topic of conversation and by giving us something we have in common with many other people.
  • Physical contact is important to our mental health. Stroking and cuddling with a pet is therapeutic. It relieves stress and anxiety.
  • Animals improve our mood with their companionship. We are also likely to laugh and be more playful when we share our home with a pet.
  • Pet owners are more active. The exercise we get from walking, feeding, and grooming a pet keeps our minds healthy.
  • Routine is beneficial to emotional stability. Caring for a pet provides a predictable routine and a link to reality.
  • If you are already so depressed that you are having difficulty taking care of yourself, having a pet is going to make it worse.
  • If someone is not a “pet person” than getting one is not likely to help improve their life.

However if the conditions are right, pets can help mental health.  The benefits can come from all kinds of pets and not just from dogs and cats.  Even watching fish in an aquarium has been shown to ease muscle tension and lower pulse rates.

Series Navigation «Humor And Mental Health – Mental Health Awareness Sex and Mental Health- Mental Health Awareness Month»
Posted by Melissa Mashburn at 9:00 am

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