Are Pets Really Good for Anxiety
We all love our pets and know that we just feel happy being near them. Our pets are always so happy to see us that it is hard not to feel good around them too. After all, who else is going to run to you and lick your face when you come home from a busy day at work? Of course, your cat may not be that obvious, but they are happy in their own way. The point is, just having a pet can make you feel better. If you do not believe that, you probably do not have a pet. But we have some serious facts to back it up.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States and affects over 40 million people annually. And people with anxiety disorders are six times more likely to suffer from physical problems as well. In fact, anxiety can increase your chances for stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer. This is because anxiety affects your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses from the common cold to diabetes. There are several types of anxiety as well, which include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some of the most common symptoms include:
Nervousness or worry about one certain thing or everything all the time
Inability to concentrate or make decisions
Obsessing over something you cannot do anything about
Dizziness or fainting
Jumpy or startling easily
Fearing things you do not understand
Regardless of whether you suffer from one or all of these symptoms, having a pet may actually help you relax. According to BetterHelp, having a pet not only makes you feel happy but it can also lower your blood pressure, reduce your heartbeat, and increase your endorphins. These are the hormones that make you feel good. This has actually been proven by the experts and there are programs and companies that have what they call emotional support animals (ESA) to help those who do not or cannot have their own pet. For example, if you live in a small apartment or you are not allowed to have a pet where you live, you can get an ESA from one of these places as a temporary solution.
A Loaner Pet
This is also great for those who cannot afford a pet. After all, pets can be expensive even if you get one for free. You have to provide food, veterinary care, and all the creature comforts like toys, treats, a leash and collar, dog bed, etc. Some places will actually bring the pet to you daily or weekly and let you spend time with them if you are unable to have them live with you for whatever reason. This is an awesome idea for many people including the elderly who may not be physically able to care for a pet.
Anxiety Service Dogs
There are also anxiety service dogs that you can get prescribed to you. These service dogs are trained to help those who are having trouble with anxiety and other mental health conditions. This is especially helpful in those with PTSD who may be alone all the time due to the panic attacks they have when trying to go out. They have done many studies on the effects that anxiety service dogs can have on those with PTSD and other types of anxiety disorder and found that these pets lower overall symptoms in most of those who participated. Some of the benefits of these pets are:
Calming their person when they are stressed out
Retrieving a phone when needed
Giving deep pressure therapy
Bringing their person out of an anxiety attack by licking their face or touching them with a paw
Preventing strangers from bothering their person during an attack
Getting help for their person when needed
Bringing medication to their person
Noticing signs of an attack before it happens
Other BenefitsYour service dog can also provide exercise, sunshine, and fresh air because you have to take them out and walk them. In fact, they can even help you socialize with others because it is shown that people with anxiety feel more confident when they are with their dog. And if you have a different pet like a cat, rabbit, horse, or even a bird, just loving them and having them love you back can improve your mood and boost your self-confidence.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-
related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health
resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with
mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.