Canines for a Cure: How Man’s Best Friend Can Help Defeat Depression

January 11, 2013

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federico stevanin

Man’s best friend may be more important to your mental health than you might think. According to Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA,

"Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression.”  Simply petting a dog or being in their presence has been shown to reduce tension and hypertension in some individuals.

Dogs have the ability to show unconditional love for their caregivers, which is a quality that is very conducive to help a depressed person feel more accepted and appreciated. This is very helpful for depression victims who have complicated families or relationships, for a canine relationship is incredibly simple and mainly positive.

Having a dog also promotes being more active, for an active dog is a healthy and happy dog. Dog owners typically get more exercise, as they have to make sure their furry friends are getting enough exercise as well. Exercise has been shown to lift moods and increase the production of endorphins – a hormone that makes you feel happy.

Depression can also be very lonely and isolating. Having a dog can help combat those feelings of loneliness, as dogs are very dependent of their owner and are naturally very loyal to them. Having a dog at arms length is also beneficial for the medical benefits of touch. Science has proven that the soothing motion of petting a dog or cat has shown to lower your heart rate and reduce anxiety.

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