How Pets Are Helping With Multiple Mental Health Issues
We’ve long known that animals and pets have helped us in a number of different ways, especially from an overall health standpoint. They reduce stress, lower our heart rate, and may motivate some of us to exercise more. Therefore they can extend our overall life expectancy with their contribution as our companions. But they also assist in other roles that lead many of us to live better, more fulfilled lives as service dogs, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues.
Do animals possess a unique skill set that humans just can’t offer to those with conditions like depression, anxiety, or even epilepsy? We’ve all heard about dogs that have “sniffed” out cancer in their masters and science simply can’t explain this ability beyond an animal’s heightened sense of smell. Is it delivered through specific breeding, since some like the Norwich Terrier are better “ratters” and hunters or bloodhounds are better trackers compared to others? Does this give our four-legged friends an ability to sense something like an oncoming seizure, or does it come from a bond they form with their masters?
Teenage Trauma And A Kid’s Companion
Although usually associated with raging hormones and coming to grips with becoming a young adult, adolescents can feel separated from their peers during this difficult time in their life. Often bonding with a pet will help them feel like they always have at least one friend in the world who is always there for them, won’t judge them, and is simply available to be their companion.
According to sources, who have studied how animals have helped those who are suffering with depression and anxiety, some solutions are more simplistic and straightforward. For example:
- Since animals need to be fed, cared for, and exercised regularly, this can give those caregivers struck down with depression or anxiety an incentive to be more motivated.
- Some who have mental health issues may feel easily threatened by humans, but animals offer unconditional love along with a complete lack of judgment, leaving them with a sense of ease and comfort.
- Animals also help those who feel cut off from others due to the grip of their mental illness. The type of connection they feel with a pet helps to bridge this gap, especially given the presence of the internet and other technological forms of disconnection.
- For those who may have problems with paranoia or the onset of panic attacks, an animal’s natural protective instincts keep those intruders at bay, regardless of certain people who may have innocent intentions.
Think of it this way, providers of service animals always warn the general public not to pet or interact with these animals while they are at work. They’re performing a job, and this type of distraction can be dangerous to the animal and their master, depending upon the circumstance.
Service With A Smile
Often when we think of a service dog, we may imagine an animal assisting someone who is either wheelchair bound or those canines engaged with a military or police career. But these larger breeds aren’t the only ones who help those in need. Regardless of their size, a larger German Shepherd in full commando mode can be just as helpful to a police officer as a tiny terrier could be to someone suffering from something like PTSD (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
As a matter of fact, when it comes to dealing with PTSD, groups like K9 For Warriors are filling a much-needed void by matching veterans with service dogs that help them tackle this type of debilitating dilemma. Sometimes a flesh wound will heal much faster than damage to a dedicated, disciplined soldier’s brain, their mental state, and overall well-being.
When these soldiers return home, they may experience little support from the government, and some of them feel disconnected from their families and friends. But a furry little companion will give them the hope, strength, and connection they need to move forward with their lives.
Along with some recent unrealistic and bias stigmas that are often attached to those suffering from mental health problems, it’s time to put these antiquated illusions to rest. Sometimes a companion animal, a furry, happy little face, along with everyday examples of unconditional love, can do wonders for people regardless of their mental state.