Friday, November 1, 2013
Mental Health & Pets
A wag of a tail, or a purr, even a blub blub? (that's supposed to be a fish...)
If you are fortunate enough to have a pet at home, you can understand the unconditional love that your little friend gives you on a daily basis.
But can pets help with your mental health, depression, anxiety? Some studies show that having a pet can reduce tension and elevate your endorphins, and improve your overall mental health well-being, when combined with proper treatment - medication, therapy, exercise and eating well. Having a furry friend to take care of when suffering from mild to moderate depression may help you feel more at ease.
Unlike relationships with family, friends, loved ones, co-workers, a relationship with a pet just allows you to experience your emotions without feeling judged or hurting someone's feelings. Your pet will always be there to comfort you, as you are their "parent" in a sense, or their pack leader.
Taking care of a pet is a huge commitment, yes, and it may seem very difficult to grasp taking care of something else while you're hurting, but experts say that adding a responsibility to your schedule can help, giving you a sense of purpose. Of course, if you're not feeling 100% ready to take on a pet, give it some more time before committing.
If you're like me, you love being a couch potato - because is there anything better than being curled up on the couch with a book or a movie? Yes, there is! Pets definitely help with getting exercise! Dogs especially, because they need to be walked and played with. Morning, afternoon and night - little walks - and in the meantime - lots of floor or outdoor playing! A little physical activity will better yourself mentally and physically!
Depression may cause some people to become isolated, pulling back from family, friends and loved ones. If you have a pet at home, you're never alone, and that can make a huge difference. Of course, if you are isolating yourself, taking time to talk to your family doctor or us here at the Distress Centre is a good way to cope as well.
Getting Out There
Having a pet can help push you to get more social contact. You won't find too many people who won't want to pet your puppy or talk to you at the dog park, or while waiting at the vet with your cat, etc. Pet owners love to talk about their pets!
Remember, if you're not ready to get a pet just yet, take time to think about it. Pets do cost roughly $1500/year to take care of between food and vet bills and other expenses, so it is a commitment. However, if you're feeling ready to take on a pet, you can rescue one from the Ottawa Humane Society, or you can look at a breeder. Do your research as to what you want in a pet, and don't be shy to ask employees at a pet store or friends for their advice and best practices.
As we always like to close our posts off the same way, we are here for you, 24/7 if you need someone to turn to, to talk to, or just some support. 613-238-3311 anytime of day or night.