As we approach day light savings time and you’re affected by SAD- this is for you! If you have a dog, you probably know how integral they are to your wellbeing. If you want a dog but haven’t committed to being a pet parent- then perhaps you delight in seeing pups walking about outsider and get a dopamine rush. Or perhaps, you wish you stand outside the local dog run or dog park and watch the puppers play? Sure, they sometimes poop on the ground when they’re scared or bark too loud at a passing truck. But then again isn’t it all worth it when they come excitedly running as you open the front door after a hard day of work, or when they cuddle next to you on the couch while you’re watching a movie.
Believe it or not, the endearing and lovable things that dogs do are actually proven to reduce depression. Think of dogs in some ways as the animal equivalent to cbd gummies or anti-depressants; if you’re someone who suffers from depression, having a furry friend around can make a huge difference. Here are just a few of the ways dogs can help reduce depression.
Depression can cause laziness and a lack of motivation, which makes it easy to stay in bed all day or resign to Netflix on your couch. However, a dog needs constant exercise, which will help you get up and get outside even on your worst days; taking your dog for a walk or to a park is exercise for you, too! Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which are produced to relieve stress and increase levels of happiness. This means exercising with your pup will lead to an improved mood that will help reduce your depression.
When you’re suffering from depression, it’s difficult to find a routine that works; you’re likely staying up late at night, sleeping into the day, and struggling to complete tasks. A dog, however, needs to be fed and taken outside to the bathroom at specific times of the day, which will likely become the backbone to your routine. In fact, studies show that consistency in schedule can lead to better sleep patterns and help reduce stress levels. With your dog in a consistent routine, you’ll likely follow suit, increasing your overall health and happiness.
Having a dog gives you a built-in partner for everything you do. Instead of watching a movie alone, you’re watching it with your pup. Instead of eating dinner alone, you’re eating dinner with your pup. Depression can make you feel lonely, as it often causes you to push away the people in your life that you love. However, a dog won’t let you push it away; it’ll be by your side no matter what. Plus, dogs have an amazing ability to recognize when their owners are sad, which means you’ll get extra comfort during a particularly bad depressive episode.
Yes, your dog will be your ultimate companion. You’ll be able to talk to it about your problems, your fears, and your goals. However, your dog won’t be able to respond save for a nuzzle or a bark; the companionship of a dog will not replace human connections and person-to-person relationships–they’re important too. However, a dog can help foster these relationships. Taking your dog for a walk gives you reason to talk to new people and make new friends, and just merely being around others at a dog park will help you feel less lonely on days you’re feeling especially down.
Responsibility plays a huge role in improving your mental health. When you have a dog, you have a living thing relying on you, which inevitably gives you a lot of responsibility. Taking proper care of a dog–signing up with a dog trainer, feeding it, bathing it, taking it for walks, and loving it unconditionally–not only gives you the reassurance that you have the ability to care for someone else, but it gives you the confidence to take care of yourself, too.
Dog’s are a person’s best friend, and it’s no wonder why. Even on your worst days, during your worst bouts of depression, your dog will be there to provide you unconditional comfort and love. Having a dog will help you become a better version of yourself, and your furry companion will watch, encourage, and admire your transformation.