How pets help people with depression

When you are in the teeth of depression, it feels as if nothing can save you. You feel as if your case is completely hopeless, so why bother. Winston Churchill, who suffered from depression, called it “the black dog”. But a black dog (or any other color or species, for that matter) may be precisely what a depressive needs.

Makes You Move

One of the most all-encompassing symptoms of depression is not wanting to move or even get out of bed, since everything seems so pointless. As a result, you wind up feeling more tired than ever. By not exercising regularly, you open yourself up to a host of other health problems. And if you can’t get out of bed, you can’t go to work or to school.

But when you have a pet, you have to get out of bed and move around in order to take care of that pet. You need to feed, clean and play with your pet. It’s not an option. If you don’t take care of your pet, then that animal suffers. If you have a dog, then the dog will urinate and defecate inside of the house. If you have a cat, then the cat may annoy you with screaming or begging until it’s easier for you to just get out of bed and take care of it.

If you are worried that your depression will get so bad that you will not be able to take care of an animal, then please talk to your doctor or therapist. Being worried about this is a good sign. It shows you are thinking of something else other than wallowing in misery. You also can talk to a friend or family member to check up on your pet to be sure that the pet is being taken care of properly.

Sense Of Accomplishment

By taking care of a pet whether it’s giving then a treat, cleaning out the littler box or playing with them you can see immediate results of your actions. This is reinforcing. When you have depression, you feel as if nothing you do makes any difference. By taking care of a pet, you see every day that your actions do make a difference.

Learning all you can about how to take care of your pet can also reap many benefits. It makes you learn something new, which is always good for raising self-esteem. It also distracts you from the voices in your head that may be telling you over and over again about how hopeless everything is.

Although a pet isn’t a substitute for being under a doctor’s care for depression, it sure can help make the medications or therapy much more effective. And you get a chance to get out of your head and emphasize with someone else’s problems.

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