How Pets Improve Your Mental Health
If you own a pet, you know the joy they bring to your life. You walk through the door at the end of a long workday and your dog comes running, tail wagging, lifting your spirits as he welcomes you home. Or you’re on the couch reflecting on some sad event in your life and your cat chooses just the right moment to come by and cheer you up.
We all understand how our pets make us happy. What you may not know is how pets improve your mental health. Experts believe that the effects of pets on mental health are significant.
The Effects of Animals and Mental Illness
There’s a clear link between animals and mental illness, with pet ownership having a positive impact on a number of mental health conditions. People will often ask their doctor or therapist, “Do pets help with anxiety?” or “Would owning a pet help with my depression?”. The answer for most people is, “Yes.”
Pets help with mental illness in many forms, including:
● Depression. From the exercise benefits that come from taking a dog for a walk to the calming of the mind that can occur when petting a cat, having a companion animal can help you fight depression.
● Anxiety. Spending time with and caring for a pet can take your focus off your worries and help alleviate anxiety.
● Loneliness. Particularly for people who live alone, pets can provide a reassuring sense of security and companionship. Plus, they provide motivation for getting out and meeting other pet owners.
● Stress. Spending time playing with a pet, or just observing how animals have a knack for “rolling with the changes” in their life, can help lower your stress level.
● ADHD. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can learn about responsibility and planning from being involved in caring for a pet.
The Mental Health Benefits of Companion Pets
Many people are familiar with the mental health benefits of dogs. Whether they’re trained service dogs or simply loving companions, they can help improve the mental, emotional and physical well-being of their owners. Other people consider cats to be the best pets for mental health. Their more subdued nature can be very soothing. Still, others prefer fish or birds, where the interaction is around feeding and caring for them. Ultimately, any pet can be an uplifting and reassuring presence in a person’s life.
Learn More About the Effects of Pets on Mental Health from Baptist Health
Keep learning about different aspects of mental and behavioral health with Baptist Health’s blog. If you’re looking for treatment or more information about your behavioral health, please contact a behavioral health provider with Baptist Health today.