Did you know that dog ownership has been proven to help reduce and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety? If you suffer from any of these conditions, consider adopting a four-legged furry friend. There are many dogs out there that have been abandoned or neglected that would be more than happy to have a family to call their own.
The link between depression and dogs is well documented. In fact, studies show that people who own dogs take anywhere from one third to one half less prescription drugs for mild to moderate anxiety problems. Dogs provide companionship, love, affection and security which can often be found lacking in human relationships. The unconditional love of a dog can help many lost souls get through some very tough times.
Studies from University of Liverpool, the University of Western Australia, and Michigan State show 70% of dog owners walk their dogs around 34 minutes a day covering almost 2 miles. When we walk our furry friends, or even spending some time playing with them, we release endorphins, which us that make us feel happy.
Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. They work similarly to a class of drugs called opioids. Opioids relieve pain and can produce a feeling of euphoria. They are sometimes prescribed for short-term use after surgery or for pain-relief. Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress, but they're also released during other activities, like eating, exercise, or sex.
When we walk our dogs on a sunny day, we also get vitamin D through sun exposure. Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
In short, physical exercise and playing with our dogs on a sunny day can make us feel more content, happy and stress free.
Studies show that interactions with our dogs, even if they are limited or fleeting, can cause our brains to release oxytocin, a hormone in our body that is widely known as the “cuddle chemical.” This hormone increases our feelings of empathy, trust, and relaxation, while at the same time, reduces stress as well as anxiety.
So, the next time you feel that fuzzy, comfortable, and warm feeling or emotions you get when you play with your dog, that is oxytocin to you.
Research has shown that even by just gazing into the eyes of your dogs can cause a huge rise in oxytocin levels not just in your body but also your dogs.
It's important to choose carefully when adopting a dog and to make sure that the animal is compatible with one's lifestyle. You may like to sleep late on weekends or go out drinking on weeknights, but if you don't want your new pet sleeping in your bed every night and spending every weekend at the bar, you might want to rethink getting a dog.
Many people who suffer from mild depression find it difficult to get motivated enough to take care of themselves properly. They often forget things like eating right and exercise and rely heavily on prescription drugs just to function throughout the day. Dogs require healthy meals, regular walks and plenty of attention which will help motivate their owners into maintaining a more healthy routine.
People suffering from depression or anxiety also to isolate themselves quite a bit as they fear the judgement of others. The unconditional affection and companionship of a dog will help these people get out into the community and encourage them to meet new friends, something that often proves difficult for those with depression or anxiety issues.
People suffering from anxiety often struggle with panic attacks and other debilitating symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, nausea and vertigo. Dogs can provide comfort through these episodes as their presence will usually cause such symptoms to subside much faster than if one were alone during an attack. Many people find themselves soothed by the scent of their pets which seems to have a calming effect on their brainwaves. This can be extremely beneficial in maintaining mental health over time.
Dogs do not require advanced education and they don't expect you to hold a conversation with them. They are not judgmental and they don't pass inappropriate remarks about your outfit or the way you look first thing in the morning. Dogs love unconditionally which makes them great companions for those who suffer from depression or anxiety.
If you suffer from any of these conditions, consider adopting a dog as it can help alleviate many symptoms that often lead to severe depression over time. It's important to research the breeds carefully before choosing one as some are more suited for certain lifestyles than others. You should also take into consideration how much time, money and effort goes into taking care of a pet before bringing one home so that you know what you're getting yourself into beforehand.
Research has shown that even looking at pictures of puppies can actually help reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, there are many self-help books out there that suggest keeping images of puppies nearby to help with these feelings.
Once you have chosen your furry friend, be sure to provide them with plenty of companionship, love, affection and security. A dog that feels unwanted or unworthy will often lash out at its owners in the form of behavioral problems which can cause even more stress on you. By providing your dog with lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior , you'll be able set it up for success in life while providing yourself with some much needed canine companionship.
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