8 Ways That Pets Are Better Than Antidepressants
It’s easy to believe pets and depression are a good combo. We love our pets almost as much as we love our two-legged family members, and we rely on them for exercise, a sense of companionship, and a warm snuggle at the end of a hard day. Just as we could have predicted, a study published in the American Psychological Association (APA) Journal indicates that pet therapy is good for mental health. Here, in honor of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which was established on April 10, 1866, and all the pets who love us unconditionally, we give you eight reasons why pets and depression are related.
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. —Anatole France
They’re 100% natural
No chemicals. No side effects. No long-term detriments to your mental or physical health. There isn’t a pill out there that can say that! Plus, unless you have really good health insurance coverage, those pills are expensive!
Pets give unconditional love
Even when you forget to feed them or leave them home while you work a ten-hour shift, they love you the moment you walk in the door. You might be a less-than-awesome daughter-in-law or the worst at remembering your family’s birthdays but it won’t matter to your pet. They love you just the way you are, coffee breath and all!
Part of the reason for adopting a furry friend is for the snuggles. The best pet therapy is a soft hug from your four-legged family member can make you feel so much better when things are less than great in your life.
They help you focus on something outside of yourself
Whether it’s a ripped off toenail or a monthly heartworm pill, your pet needs you. At your beck and call for a snuggle or smooch, you’ll find a renewed sense of purpose and accountability with your pet that is completely separate from your inner monologue and whatever might be going on in the rest of your life. It’s hard for pets and depression to coexist.
Dogs force you to go outside at least three times a day
They have to pee. And poop. And pee some more. And sniff that tree. And all that should take place outside with you by their side. Get that sunshine, fresh air, and Vitamin D while giving your pet some exercise and a chance to relieve himself! You have to!
They listen to all of your problems with no judgment
They cannot talk back (well, most can’t anyway). You can vent, unload your problems, and voice all of your fears and frustrations to your pet and they will not call you loca or leave you feeling silly. As long as you’re petting them and giving them some love and attention, pets will always listen to whatever it is you have to say and respond with even more love and devotion to you.
Dogs encourage you to exercise, which all experts agree alleviates depression
Don’t settle for a two minute potty break three times a day! Get out there and walk or jog for a mile or two! Get your heart rate up and the endorphins flowing so you feel better right away! If you’re thinking about adopting and want a particularly active breed for this reason, ask the shelter staff to discuss different options with you prior to you meeting the animals. Take it from us, you don’t want a Border Collie unless you’re ready to run everyday, just like you won’t want a Basset Hound if you’re wanting to train with your dog for a half marathon!
Pets can always make you smile
They’re notoriously silly, sweet, innocent, and clumsy and they can always make us smile. You only have to search the internet for a cute cat or funny puppy video for a moment to be sure.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t have a pet and are not in a position to adopt, perhaps volunteer for a local shelter to get your dose of puppy love to improve your mental and physical health.