But all dog owners know that the odds of anxiety or depression if you have a dog or two around one are greatly reduced.
I’m chairing a discussion on depression at our local Humanists and Freethinkers group in eighteen days time; on January 18th, 2020. The core of my talk is a TED Talk given journalist Johann Hari in July of 2019.
This is how the talk is introduced.
In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world — as well as some exciting emerging solutions. “If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re not weak and you’re not crazy — you’re a human being with unmet needs,” Hari says.
There are sufficient numbers of people who follow this blog that it is likely that this talk will really engage a few of you. It’s twenty minutes long and very interesting!
The value of a loving dog is not to be over estimated!
Returning to the theme of how dogs can help us humans fight off depression.
A delightful guest post from Taylor who recently asked if she could share a post from her own blog. I was delighted to have been asked.
Dogs Can Help Decrease Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression.
by Taylor G. February 23rd. 2018.
I have always been a huge animal person. But mostly, a dog person/mom. I have two pups, and I am a dog walker in my neighboring towns. But I also suffer from depression and anxiety. Doctors always rush to prescribe medicine, but I have found that dogs can help as well. This post will be describing how dogs can help people suffering with depression and anxiety.
Exercise- For all you dog owners out there, you know how much exercise your furry friends require. Since becoming a dog walker, I am forced to exercise and walk everyday. While it hasn’t cured my mental illnesses, it has decreased some of my symptoms. I am forced to get out of bed and do something. In recent studies, they have found that dog owners are a lot more likely to meet daily exercise requirements then none dog owners!
Sense of Purpose- When you know that there is another living being that relies solely on you,
you get a sense of worthiness. I know I struggle with feeling needed, but as soon as I schedule a dog walk, I know that that dog needs me. That the dog is waiting for me to walk it. It makes me feel needed in this world. It has increased my self worth and makes me feel like I have a purpose.
Structure/Daily Routine- Many people who suffer with depression and anxiety know the struggle of having a routine. All we want is structure in our lives in a world where everything is hectic and last minute. Having a dog/being a dog walker, gives you a routine. Most dogs get up to do their business at the same time every morning and they know when its walk/feeding time. Trust me 🙂 It has given me a set schedule and has helped me feel more structured and less crazy!
Forever Companion- Dogs will steal your heart, but you will also steal theirs. They are one of the most loving and caring animals out there. They sense your emotions and will be there for you through your good and bad days. I know that when I have a bad day, I always have my happy little furry babies to come home to. They are my friends when my depression tells me I have none.
Petting Reduces Stress- It is proven, that the ‘motion’ and the ’emotion’ the goes into petting,
actually releases oxytocin (hormone related to anxiety relief), which can help reduce blood pressure!
Mindfullness- For people who are trying to practice mindfulness (anxiety/depression technique that keeps you in the current moment), having a dog will help you do that! They keep you distracted from the bad things that are going on, and make you concentrate on their cute shenanigans.
Help with Isolation- For those days when your depression gets the best of you, they help you feel less lonely and less isolated. They will be there for you when no one else is, and knowing that always makes me feel better.
They allow me to smile- Last year, when my depression and anxiety were at its peak, I forgot how to smile. The only time I smiled was when I was in the presence of my dogs. They taught me how to smile again, and I am so grateful to them.
My dogs have helped give me my life back. While I am still fighting my
depression and anxiety, I am definitely proof that dogs can help in this fight against mental illness. While they also may be a huge responsibility, they are also a huge help in the war with mental illness.
I will close by stating the obvious.
That is that everyone who has a dog or two in their life and has times of feeling depressed knows without question what it means to hug a dog.
Those who do not have a dog in their life and have experienced depression should find their own dog to hug – pronto!