Today it is 2019 and yet still we have a difficult time talking about depression. Whether it is you that is depressed or me, we still don’t want to talk to someone that is depressed. It is like we don’t want to hear what they have to say, because then it makes it a real issue.
The time is up now!!! We need to hear from people that have been depressed or are depressed. No holds barred conversations.
We need to talk about it so that we can help find things that can help people. Even things that can help ourselves.
What about dogs? Can a dog help with depression? Are dogs really superdogs?
Let’s talk about depression.
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are 300 million people in the world that suffer from depression. Just think about how many people that really is.
Let’s break it down further:
- In the US there are 46.6 million adults that suffer from mental illness in any one year. That is 1 in 5.
- The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 16 million adults in the US will have 1 major depressive episode
- In Canada in any given year 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health illness or problem.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some point in their lives.
We all know that depression can show itself as mild, moderate or severe. Among people that experience severe depressive symptoms 90% have trouble with things like going to work, socializing and managing their home life.
Simple things like getting out of bed, personal hygiene, and just having clear thoughts can be difficult to handle.
How can dogs help?
Most dogs owners will tell you that coming home at the end of the day to the joy of their dog is the best part of their day. That uplifting feeling of seeing their dog jumping up and down with that big happy grin is so exciting. It really never gets old.
Too many people have never experienced or simply don’t know the joy and love that a dog brings.
Dogs are very in tune with humans emotions and feelings. They understand many of the words that we say, our tone of voice and our body language.
A dog is capable of looking into your eyes and understanding that they need to give an extra snuggle or rub against your leg. They say that a dog can help simply because they offer that connection or touch that we may need.
There is proof that dogs really do help people and can help change a person’s behavior.
A good example is dogs are being used in prison to help inmates interact with them by touching, hugging, and petting them. This helps teach inmates, some for the first time what it feels like to receive mutual affection. The companionship that these men get from the dogs helps them deal with the loneliness of prison and also promotes exercise.
Dogs require exercising regularly, so the inmates spend time exercising with the dogs which also helps boosts their mood and can help ease depression.
Benefits of a dog.
Studies have shown that people that have dogs, are less likely to become depressed that non dog owners. Simply playing with a dog can elevate serotonin, as well as dopamine which will help keep us calm and very relaxed.
Having a dog as a companion helps ease anxiety and comfort us. They help us build self-confidence by getting us out into the world where we are likely to encounter other dog owners along the way. Interacting with other dog owners gets us talking and building relationship with new people.
By getting us out of the house in the fresh air and sunshine just makes us feel better. There is proof that stepping outside and taking your dog for a walk, can help clear your head and provide us a reason to keep moving forward everyday.
Depression as we know can keep us stuck in one place that is dark and lonely. We feel like we can’t see hope or happiness when we look ahead. Having a dog doesn’t allow you to only think about yourself. You can’t lay in bed all day and bury your head in the covers. Dogs have needs everyday so the responsibility of a dog forces you to get up and make sure that they have everything that they need.
Caring for something else on a regular routine, can also really be a positive thing. Routines help keep us in the right lane moving forward.
Love from a dog.
The unconditional love a dog provides gives us that feeling of being loved. Everyone wants to be loved everyday. Dogs have the innate ability to give us that love that we are searching for. When we are depressed we can feel that nobody cares about us and nobody loves us.
Having a dog, helps that feeling of being alone seem not so big.
Whether you live alone or not, a dog’s presence in the home makes the home a much happier place to be. It can be as simple as that funny thing that your dog does with their toy when they are playing that makes you smile or laugh out loud.
I know that for me personally, my dog FINN was always doing something hilarious with his favourite toy (aka his baby) and literally my whole mood changes. Then he comes over and he is so happy that I just cuddle him like crazy.
Laughing, giggling and smiling are all emotions that help us feel joy. Feeling that joy allows us to see things as they are in that moment. Things don’t seem to be in so full of despair.
Many people talk to their dogs and it they find it helps them forget about their own problems. I will say that I always talked to my 2 boys regularly. I realize that they can’t respond, but they listen attentively and that alone is enough to make me feel like it is a response.
Even though it isn’t a verbal response, it still is having a conversation with your best friend that knows you like no other.
Meaning of life.
When you struggle with depression at different times in your life, it can be something that you can sometimes feel coming and other times, it is just life.
In life, we go through many challenges like death, loss of jobs, weather blues, money issues, illness and more. The older we get the more we are going to have to go through. Unfortunately there is no solution to dealing with these terrible events.
I strongly believe that owing a dog can help us go through almost anything. The pleasure we get from the love of a dog is an easy way to boost our optimism and sense of worth.
Your dog is 100% your dog.
The pride that I feel from being a dog owner is unlike anything I have ever felt before. Being a mom to a dog makes me feel like I have a family that loves me and relies on me for their everything.
Yes it is a huge responsibility, but at the same time the positives so out way the negatives. My dogs bring out the playfulness, laughter and overall joy in my life. They accept me for the who I am and never judge me LOL! You can’t beat that feeling.
Dogs overall are a stress buffer that helps soften the difficult journey through life and do help in many positive ways in dealing with depression.