Dogs Vs. Depression


Elliot Mennel, Student writer

Mental health. This is a thing that we as humans all deal with to some degree. It’s okay to get sad. It’s okay to get angry. It’s okay to want to cuddle with a puppy. Now, unless you’re scared of dogs, I’m sure you’ve noticed the occasional furry friend has made you feel better on a bad day. Take a moment to think of a time a dog has brightened your day. For me, I can always fall back on the memory of when my dog, Honey, licked the tears off my face after I felt my first ever heart break.

One thing that is very obvious is dogs’ keen ability to sense sadness. When dogs are domesticated and brought into homes, they view their owners as their pack. The pack instinct is to protect and take care of their pack mates. Often, dogs will see their humans as much weaker animals emotionally. Their instinct is to not only protect us physically but also emotionally. When dogs notice physical signs of intense emotion – crying, making our form physically smaller, social isolation – our furry companions want to make us feel better.

One benefit of having a dog in the same household as someone suffering from depression is giving the person a sense of purpose and a break from isolation. I know personally, when I get into a depressive episode, I often feel profoundly alone and like my life has no purpose. As you may know, dogs can have a hard time taking care of themselves. More often than not, they need their owners to provide basic necessities for them such as food, water, going outside etc etc… By owning a dog, you play an important role in their life by feeding and caring for them. You bring them happiness. On the topic of isolation, sometimes a dog is a manageable level of social activity. When feeling depressed, you may not want to dive head first into a conversation or group gathering. Dogs are good listeners. They’ll never judge you and seldom have negative reactions to your affection. You can strike up a conversation with your pup without the fear of being considered awkward or weird. Your dog will love you no matter what you talk about.

Are there health benefits to owning a dog too? Yes! According to an article by Good Health, “People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.” Stress can lead to many health conditions, including heart diseases, asthma, headaches, depression, anxiety, Alzheimers, and many more. Having a dog in your household can help prevent those concerns and many more.

All in all, dogs are fun, adorable, and a great addition to any household. Though, they may be a handful – take my dog Charlie as an example – there’s nothing she won’t bark at. But she still makes me happy. Having a dog in your household has so many fantastic benefits, more than I’ve mentioned here today. So go out and adopt a four legged friend!