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Pets May Help With Severe Depression

In case you were unaware, we are big pet lovers at Inneractions. Not only do they offer affection and support, they may actually be able help people who are clinically depressed. At least that’s what writers from The Journal of Psychiatric Research are now reporting and to us, it makes a lot of sense.


The latest Journal issue offered data that showed people with severe depression (who may be struggling in treatment) were able to significantly reduce their symptoms after adding a pet into their lives. Portuguese researchers Jorge Mota Pereira and Daniela Fonte contributed to the study, interviewing multiple participants who had “treatment-resistant major depressive disorder.” Each were encouraged to adopt one animal, with 20 going for dogs and seven selecting a cat.


After 12 weeks (with regular ongoing checkups), more than 33 percent of the group that adopted saw their depression symptoms go from severe to mild. One big discovery was that pet ownership gave these participants a greater sense of purpose.


“By having the responsibility of taking care of an animal, people have to get up in the morning to take care of the animal, namely pet them and feeding them,” the researchers explained in their report. “In the specific case of dogs, the need of taking a dog for a walk, hike and run promotes the increase of physical activity and could help its owner to meet new people that also have pets, sharing experiences and improving their social skills.”


All very encouraging material, though it was emphasized that pet adoption may not be for everyone. The checkups proved to be a very important component of the study. There is also the very real possibility of a severely depressed subject not being able to handle the responsibilities of ownership and thus neglecting their dog or cat.


Mota Pereira and Fonte singled that out at the end of their study, advising that only those who appreciate their animals should go down this path.


“It is worth noting that these benefits will only occur in people that appreciate domestic animals,” the researchers concluded. “Those who choose adoption must have the time, attention and money necessary to take care of their pets.”


If taking an action like this could benefit you or someone you are close to who is battling depression (assuming they are up for the challenge), we think that it’s a good idea. Especially since there are so many abandoned animals in shelters right now, in need of a good home.


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