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Humans have incredibly tough schedules, with long work hours, not enough sleep, and the growing responsibilities of every day life. There are estimates that one in every four among us has some form of mental disorder – primarily stress, and depression.
Not many take it as a sign of mental disorder, but prolonged stress and depression can have catastrophic effects on our well-being, and our mental abilities to stay focused and give proper attention to daily tasks. Some suggest one of the best remedies may be to get a pet dog or cat.
Research shows that pets, especially cats and dogs, are an excellent mood enhancer. There are numerous ways to reduce stress but pets have great advantages over many others.
Pets Help to Reduce Anxiety and Aid with Recovery
Various studies have confirmed that patients recover more quickly when they have a pet dog or cat in the house. Moreover, they are also less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression. Secondly, having pets also reduces stress and blood pressure in a better manner than many drugs. In one study, symptoms of stress were less apparent in New York stockbrokers who had a pet dog or cat. Patients recovering from illness, injury, or disease or returning home from treatment can expect their pets to wait for them, which is always a good feeling to have once you return from any form of treatment.
Co-founder of the Pet Wellness Academy, Dr. Katie Kangas says that both anxiety and depression can increase stress by internal turmoil in life. This negativity increases in the form of mood swings and cycles. If owners are taking care of their dogs and cats, they have some activity to divert from, which aids in the recovery of patients, while reducing anxiety attacks and stress shocks.
Pets Encourage Exercise
Various physical symptoms of the stress involve fatigue and loss of attention to physical activity. Hence, owning a dog can help relieve these symptoms as tending to their daily needs means getting up and moving.
Harvard Health publications have published various yearlong research studies on how owning dogs can act as exercise buddies and aid in weight loss. Dog owners usually walk over 30 minutes extra per day than those without dogs. An evening walk with your pet can help you to meet other people too. Many pet enthusiasts become a part of a social group who get together for playdates, to walk their dogs, or at the dog park. This in itself can help reduce some level of stress, as we meet and make new friends.
Reduction in Cardiovascular Diseases & Improved Immunity
There is a high risk of heart attacks and other forms of cardiovascular diseases in people with depression. A recent research conducted by the University of Minnesota showed that patients who did not have pets had a 40% greater chance of having a heart attack. A dog’s presence alone can be felt across the cardiovascular and nervous system, providing relaxation and easing stress symptoms.
Research also showed that babies and children exposed to animals, such as cats and dogs, may develop better immunity and resistance to allergies and asthma from a younger age. Although owning a pet is not a replacement for healthy diet and exercise, it is a way to help relieve physical symptoms of stress.
Pets Give Unconditional Support and Love
Love and affection are wonderful sources of relaxation, and pets can provide ample love. Petting can make cats and dogs feel good, which reciprocates within us too.
Arden Moore, an animal expert, says that if you give your pet a good massage, the activity increases your own relaxation times too. Touch and massage can also relieve symptoms of stress by decreasing cortisol related stress hormones and generating white blood cells. The University of Virginia researched the effects of touch on pets. They concluded that holding your pet and their hands or paws can reduce stress in the hypothalamus region of our brain.
Help Generate Companionship and Sense of Responsibility
Stress and depression can increase if humans feel they have no personal relationships, or they have no one to look after them or no one that needs them. Because pets need consistent daily care and support, they allow owners to stay patient, and understand relationships in a more natural manner. Director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA and a famous psychiatrist, Ian Cook says that taking care of pets allows owners to sense their own value and importance around themselves.
Many breeds of both cats and dogs can be highly loyal, can play with kids, are always attentive towards us and provide a sense of friendship and bonding.
Many dogs are also used as therapy dogs and emotional support animals, helping others come out of depression while helping in communities. Pets are always a blessing and should be treated like one.
Sandra J. Hayward is a Miami Dade college MBA graduate that is interested in academic research and writing but does not want to depend on the rigorous schedule. That is why she has been collaborating with edubirdie.com for a long time as a freelance writer and enjoys her flextime a lot.