Living with Anxiety: The Mental Benefits of Owning a Pet
Recent studies have determined that mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder in Britain, and so finding ways to treat such disorders is becoming increasingly important, and not only in Britain, but worldwide. While some may have to turn to medication when treating their illness, others are finding more holistic methods to alleviate their symptoms, such as exercise and a healthy diet. Both methods have their benefits, of course, but there many ways to treat anxiety, suited for both adult and child.
Ask any pet owner, and they will gush over the benefits of having a pet and how they couldn’t live without their dog, cat, hamster, horse or even pet snake. People may consider pets as an animal to have fun with and to stroke, but believe it or not, but animals boast a wealth of perks that can improve a person’s mental health.
Perhaps it’s you who are struggling with anxiety, or maybe it’s your partner or your child. No matter who you are, your age or gender, the advantages of owning a pet are mighty. Here are three top benefits of owning a pet.
Companionship Lowers Risk of Depression and Anxiety
Anxiety and depression, for the most part, go hand in hand. Depression is more than feeling unhappy; when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad and this sadness can impact your whole life. Furthermore, anxiety can leave you feeling uneasy, with a sense of severe panic and worry that can limit your social life and work prospects. Such mental health issues can affect a person of any age. However, it is believed that non-pet owners are four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than pet owners. The reasons behind this may be because pets are able to provide you with a sense of worth, offer unconditional love and can offer a calming and soothing effect – all of which can diminish symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Improves a Person’s Social Skills
Children with ASD find it often difficult to communicate, however, according to new studies, children who are on the spectrum can benefit from having a pet as it can help autistic children develop social skills and reduce the anxiety and frustrations that are common among those with ASD. Researchers have attributed caring for an animal as a great means of improving social skills; therefore, parents of autistic children may want to consider buying their child a small pet. While kids may wish for a puppy, if you’re unable to care for such a big animal you could buy a tortoise from Atlas Aquatics, a guinea pig or a rabbit.
Petting an Animal can have a Calming Effect
When petting an animal, oxytocin (a hormone linked to anxiety relief) is released, causing a stressed and anxious individual to relax and experience feelings of happiness. Due to such calming effects, there’s been a rise in Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), such as puppy and kitten therapy sessions where people are allowed to sit with animals and pet them for a while. Research has found that all adults who underwent animal therapy became less anxious – even those who said they weren’t fans of animals!
Animals offer a wealth of benefits and are much more than a pet. Not only do they offer companionship, but their unconditional love and assistance, no matter how small or big the animal is, can improve a person’s physical and mental health. If you’re looking for ways to improve your mental health or the mental health of your children, then make sure you consider the help of an animal counterpart. Dog and cats are great to pet, however, the responsibility of looking after a smaller pet can provide a great sense of purpose for younger individuals.