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Can A Dog Help With Depression? – SUPERDOGS!

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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.can a dog help with depression

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.

unconditional love

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.

JOY

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.

dogs and depression

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.pug love

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.my boy's love

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.

 

12 Comments

  1. Hi Coralie, 

    I used to have a dog when I was little. I remember clearly that if I take it out for a walk and play the frisbee together in the park, the next few hours or even the next morning I feel GREAT too! So, I totally agree with you that a dog definitely helps with depression!

    I like the benefits of owning a dog it will change our life and a substantial cure for depression, and it’s due to selfless love from our dogs. I think most of our pressures are from the relationships with our friends, families, or colleagues, but I cannot help smile when I open the door and look at the happy face my dog rushes towards me after school. It’s something I will keep deep inside my mind forever.

    • Hi Matt,

      You are so right that the unconditional love of a dog is what can really help a person feel loved and happier. 

      Playing with a dog is the ideal way to feel better.  I think it is so interesting that you remember back when you were a kid and those happy moments.  It totally proves the point about dogs being able to help us feel better when we are down. 

      We never forget our pets no matter how much time passes by.  They are forever remembered for the love and joy that they bring us. 

      Thank you so much for sharing. 

      Coralie 

  2. At the top of the article, you have introduced a nice statistics about depression. Yes, I personally believe most of the people feel depression because most of the time people remain unsatisfied and expect more. Additionally sometimes heavy sadness appears due to death, losing job, etc.

    However, when I get depressed I really feel alone and like to stay alone, because I start to like nothing at those time. After reading your article I came to know for the first time than a dog help with depression! And as you explained the matter it really looks like a damm truth. I personally don’t own a dog, but I love street dogs. I am thinking to spend some times with then when I get depressed.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Dr. SD,

      Thank you so much for you comments on my post. I really appreciate you thoughts on depression and peoples expectations of their life should be.   We go through so many ups and downs in life that having a companion to help ease the hurt can certainly help.  

      The nice thing is that you personally don’t have to have the dog like you said. Just having the ability to pet a dog can really help.

      Thank you 

      Coralie 

  3. Great article Coralie. I’m a dog lover myself (big dogs) and I can attest, their love for you as the owner is truly unconditional. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t be more like them. If your happy their happy for you, if your sad their happy for you, if you had a long hard day – their still happy for you.

    There should be more publications/push on social media how pets can help with depression nowadays. They are the perfect cure for depression, and a dog will never leave your side. 

    • Hi Mark,

      I am so glad you enjoyed my post.  You are so right about the love of a dog, no matter what your dog is always there for you.  With humans there is not a 100%  guarantee they will be there. Dogs are a sure thing.  When it comes to unconditional love there is nothing like a dogs love. 

      Thank you so much for your comments on my post.  I appreciate you sharing. 

      Coralie 

  4. Indeed Pets are also a great motivator for people. Dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise, and this can be beneficial for those suffering from depression. Pets can also have calming effects on their owner. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with my dog can gives owning a chance to relax and calm my minds. Thanks for sharing,  seems like you know exactly what I needed.

    • Hi SeunJeremiah,

      I appreciate your wonderful comments on my post. Your thought about dogs helping calm us is right on my point about the positive benefits of having a dog.  They do bring out that calming feeling in us just from them being near us. The comfort they bring is just a part of what make a having a dog such a big part of making us happier. 

      Coralie 

  5. Thank you for sharing this post, depression is a very serious illness, in fact many of us have not only suffered from it ourselves but know someone has taken their own lives because of it, I don’t want to go into it here but I have recently lost a friend due to depression, I think you are absolutely correct about a dog being able to ease depression, in fact anything can help with depression is most certainly worth a try, I’m not sure if it’s just my perspective on this but there does seem to be more people suffering from depression these days than in the past, however, thank you for sharing this helpful and informative post on what is quite a delicate subject.  

    • Hello Russ, 

      I myself have seen how depression can really take over the people we love.  I think you are right in saying that there seems to be more people suffering with depression these days.  The pressure and fast paced lives now is a real contributor to so much of this.  

      Expectations are high and sometimes we just lose our way. I think dogs really help us stay grounded and in a place of here and now. They keep us moving one day at a time. 

      Thank you for commenting on my post and for sharing.

      Coralie 

  6. Having dogs around can build your self esteem because knowing that you can be responsible in taking care of another creature can prove your self worth. I once read that just by stroking your dog’s fur immediately releases negativity in you. It could be in the form of stress, depression, anger or anything unpleasant. Our dog gives us a hearty laugh whenever she plays around like crazy. Even my kids would play with her before going or coming back from school. One time I heard them talking to her as if she’s really part of the conversation. She’s very active but is also disciplined and it’s why we’re amazed by her everyday. 

    I enjoyed reading your blog today. Dogs are great companion, healer, and worker. They should be in every loving household. Thank you for another worth sharing post.

    • Hello MissusB,

      I love meeting other dog people, that believe how special having dogs in your life really is.  They just like you said, really do help us simply by us touching and petting them.  I always feel so much better after petting a dog.  A real sense of calm comes over me and it just brings me such joy.

      Thank you for your input on my latest post, it is so appreciated.

      Take care.

      Coralie 

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