Does Having a Pet Help with Depression?

Ask any pet owner and they will tell you that the unconditional love they receive from their furry companion has great benefits for their happiness.  Having a relationship with a beloved pet decreases loneliness, helps facilitate a sense of purpose, and increases oxytocin production in the brain. Studies have shown that bonds between humans and animals have true clinical benefits in mental health treatment.  It is no surprise that animal-assisted therapy techniques have become popular in recent years as a way to treat mental illness. But does this mean that becoming a pet owner is right for you?

Adopting a pet is a serious commitment that could potentially last two decades of your life.  Being a responsible pet owner means having the financial means to support and care for your pet’s basic needs as well as any medical care they may require.  You must also be able to find time in your life for play, whether that means taking your dog on a walk or moving a laser pointer around the house for your cat to chase.  It is also a good idea to consider your housing circumstances when deciding on pet adoption, as well as what kind of pet may be right for you. If you have the necessary resources, and you are being treated for depression, a pet may be a great addition to your recovery plan.

It is important to remember that a pet cannot take the place of professional help, and in order to become a loving pet owner, you must first focus on your own health.  If you are struggling with substance abuse while attempting to cope with your depression, this may mean getting sober for an appropriate amount of time before adopting a pet.  However, if you are already in recovery, adopting a pet can reduce depressive symptoms and prevent relapse.

At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.