Have You Heard About Pet Therapy?!
Who could dispute that animals can have a positive effect on emotional well-being? With research being conducted into the field of alternative medicine on an on-going basis, more and more people are beginning to realize the cathartic effects that animals are having on an individual's well-being. A study done by Katcher and Beck on University students relates effects of pets to those patients suffering with depression. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826684/#:~:text=Katcher%20and%20Beck%20%5B38%5D%20revealed,increase%20positive%20affect%20%5B40%5D. )
While some people recover from depression using medications alone, others do not. There are many others still, who would prefer to use a combination of alternative therapies to try to alleviate the symptoms of depression. One of these treatments being studied is ‘Pet Therapy’, but what is this alternative and how could it help?
'Pet Therapy ' is defined by Wikipedia as, "Animal-assisted therapy"(that) "is an alternative or complementary type of therapy that includes the use of animals in a treatment." A study by UCLA has even discovered that "Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been shown to reduce blood pressure in healthy and hypertensive patients. It reduces anxiety in hospitalized patients, too." Anyone that has a pet will probably not be too surprised to find these results to be true. According to UCLA they can also positively help with autism, heart problems, and dementia (https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy ).
Many scientists have spent endless hours looking into the different types of therapy available for treating depression as an illness. ‘Pet Therapy’ has been concluded as one of these therapies. Animals have long been recognized as being a positive force in the healing process. This has only grown more conclusive with more and more studies being conducted on this topic.
Dogs notably have a calming and therapeutic effect on people. They can help individuals to cope with the emotional issues related to their illness. They also offer physical contact with another living creature and help to divert a person's attention from their pressing daily problems.
Owning a dog brings about a sense of responsibility. Dogs rely on their owners for feeding, walking, attention and love. What better excuse for a depressed person to get out of bed in the morning?
Dogs love almost everyone without any degree of prejudice or rejection. You do not need to speak any type of language to communicate with a four-legged friend. Give them a treat. Tickle their tummy, and they will love you without bounds.
Dogs are aware of illness and sadness and genuinely want to provide companionship and comfort. They show an abundance of intelligence and are both intuitive and compassionate. Any dog owner will relate and agree with me when I say that it is a surprisingly comforting feeling when their dog can detect their sorrow. Dogs have certainly scientifically earned their place as "man's best friend".
Cats are also used commonly within pet Therapy. According to the New York Times, one marvelous individual used cats as assisted therapy for her cancer (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/well/live/as-animal-assisted-therapy-thrives-enter-the-cats.html ). Straede and Gates go on to claim this ,"cat owners do have better psychological health than people without pets. On questionnaires, they claim to feel more happy, more confident, and less nervous, and to sleep, focus, and face problems in their lives better." They proved this in a study they conducted in the country of Australia ( https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279393787002385 ). As a cat owner myself, I while heartedly agree, and would recommend getting a cat to anyone. My cat is even pictured on the front page of this pet therapy piece.
Pet Therapy can facilitate many positive changes. One such example is an increase in socialization skills. Animals can be used as part of group therapy programs to encourage communication and increase the ability to focus. Animals can also
help to develop a person’s self-esteem while, simultaneously, reducing their loneliness and anxiety. These are just a few of the potential benefits of individual-animal therapy.
The bond between humans and animals is demonstrated every day in millions of homes around the world. It is also becoming a powerful, common mode of therapy in many facilities, such as hospitals, schools, and residential homes. There is no question that the, seemingly "magical", interaction possible between animal and human is unmistakable. Tears can be dried. Scowls transform into smiles. Silence is broken, and last but not of least importance, loneliness and isolation can be ejected from a person through mere touch and cuddles. Pets offer their owner’s absolute and unconditional love. If you are suffering from depression, why not give pet therapy a try. I hope there are boundless smiles within your future. Keep your chin up.