Best Pets to Help Fight your Depression (A complete guide)

In this guide, we will discuss the best pets for depression. Studies have repeatedly proven that having a pet significantly reduces depression and anxiety among individuals. Pets cause an increase in both mental as well as the physical well-being of a person.

Pets can help reduce stress levels, loneliness and depression, while simultaneously encouraging us to exercise and be playful. Having a pet makes us feel secure and loved. Pets, especially dogs are able to understand our body language very well and respond to it accordingly. They take care of us when we are sick and provide the love and comfort we need when they see us sad. They stay by our side reducing the feeling of loneliness.

Depending upon your comfort with different animals you can select the best pets for depression from over a wide range of animals. 

The best pets for depression

Some of the best pets for depression include:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Snakes and lizards
  • Birds
  • Fishes

Dogs

Dogs are at the top of the list being the most selected animal to fight depression and feeling of loneliness. Dogs shower us with unconditional love and support while having an upbeat personality which helps boost our mood and mental state. There is a wide range of breeds one can choose from, the most famous choices being, cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Golden Retriever or a Pug. You can visit nearby shelters to see which breeds are available in your neighbourhood.  More than the breed the connection between you and your dog is important.

Numerous studies support the claim that dogs reduce depression and loneliness, as they push you to move out of bed every day, go out for a walk, and ensure food for yourself and the dog, giving you a feeling of accomplishment every day. As that takes care of the physical aspect, for the mental aspect, dogs are amazing companions when we do not feel like interacting with anyone. We do not need to be talking to them but still feel a connection with them, making them the best pets for depression.

Cats

The choice for non-dog lovers next are cats as they are one of the best pets for depression. Cats like dogs provide great emotional benefits too like helping relieve stress and fight depression. They do not require to be taken for walks and as much care as dogs do. Making it easier on you to find a balance between the responsibilities that come with taking care of a pet and having your alone time.

Despite their reputation, they prove to be great companions and loving pets. Their way of showing love is more subtle, making it easier for you to accept it and not be overwhelmed by it.

Especially during depression, we do not feel like doing a lot of cause of the tiredness that comes along with it, that’s why cats provide the best support during the tough times. They are there to extend support while demanding very less in return.

Rabbits

A rabbit provides with the perfect small active pet that is both cute and adorable to look at. They are low maintenance in comparison to dogs and cats while providing the same benefits. They are extremely energetic and love to hop around.

Studies have shown that they reduce stress level and increase the secretion of serotonin, the feel-good hormone in our brains. Petting or snuggling with their soft fur is a great way to reduce loneliness, anxiety and blood pressure. As they are active creatures, they motivate their humans to be active too and get out of bed, helping in your journey to fight depression. They are cute looking, making us smile whenever we look at them.

They are able to understand our body language in a way cats and dogs do too and will rest in your lap to provide you with unconditional love and support making them the best pets for depression.

As they also enjoy their “me time” you do not need to give them constant attention and interact with the at times comfortable to you, ensuring that taking care of them is not overwhelming for you.

Guinea pigs

If looking for smaller pets that are even easier to take care of are guinea pigs. They are intelligent and affectionate pets who you would love to play with. All they require is a big cage indoors and be regularly fed. They require attention from their humans and make sure to let you know when they are feeling it is being showered inadequately. They exercise regularly in their cage making you motivated to exercise too. You can play with them by letting them out of the cage and let them run around in the room.

Their small size makes it easier to take care of them and not require a lot of area. Because they are active animals, making them the best pets for depression and to find mental happiness.

Snakes and Lizards

Even though snakes and lizards are not loved by all, they can be great companions. They grow very close to their humans once they realise that they are being cared for. Like guinea pigs, they require very less care and attention at the same time providing you with the opportunity to interact with them when you are comfortable. They provide a sense of responsibility and are great for people who are allergic to furry animals and hate running after their pets.

As they do not need constant attention, it gives you a chance to have a companion in the room while taking off the pressure to give it constant attention, making them the best pets for depression.

Birds

As most of the birds, especially certain parrots live long lives, we do not have to go through the grief of losing a pet in 5-10 years. You can interact with them or just watch them go by their day. They provide a feeling of calm and composed to their owner. Talking and playing with birds or just feeding them can help reduce depression.

While having feelings of depression, minimal interaction with them every day can make you feel relaxed and less lonely. They create a cheerful and chirpy environment in the house, elevating your mood and spirits. As they are low maintenance it is easy to take care of them without the feeling of it being too much, making them the best pets for depression.

Fish

The easiest pet to take care of are fishes. You might think that all they do is swim aimlessly so it will be boring but in reality seeing them swim scientifically has been proven to reduce your heart rate and stress. They can be placed anywhere in the room, next to your bed or on your study table and just enjoy their company, making them the best pets for depression.

It provides you with the comfort of someone being with you while not having to feel the pressure to interact with them. During depression, fishes become really helpful in removing the loneliness and replacing it with calmness and feeling of relaxation.

Pet have a lot to offer against your fight with depression

Helen Brooks has published numerous researchers in BMC Psychiatry that demonstrate the effectiveness of pets in fighting depression. The researches show that pets help fight depression by providing and affecting the following:

Comfort and companionship

During depressive episodes we tend to distance ourselves from our loved one, leaving us all alone with feelings of loneliness and separated from the world. During this time a pet becomes the perfect companion who provides us with comfort and love that we crave for but are scared to ask for. They are there for us when we have isolated the whole world and hid away in our room. They become our connection with others and a fall back for when we feel unloved.

Unconditional love

A pet provides you with the kind of love that is not reward-based or makes you work hard to earn it. Their love is unconditional, selfless and undying. And that is what we wish for the most when we are unable to love ourselves. For someone to be there for us when we don’t feel like being there for ourselves. They remove the feelings of loss and isolation and fill it with warmth and happiness,therefore one must find their best pets for depression. Animals are able to sense when their humans are sad and will try their best to cheer them up and offer comfort.

A regular schedule

During depression following a particular routine becomes very difficult, makes us tired and want to sleep in our beds all day. Having a pet changes that by making us forcefully get out of bed to walk it, feed it or care for it. They provide our day with purpose and with their love reward us for our efforts. Dog owners need to take their dogs out for a walk, giving them a reason to step outside of the house and go for a walk. Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to help in the journey to recovery from depression.

Positive mental health

Pets have an extremely positive influence on an individual’s mental health status by lowering their stress levels, anxiety and depressive symptoms. While side by side boosting their self-confidence, connections with others, feelings of being loved and companionship. These things are crucial to be felt therefore one must find their best pets for depression as it gives them the strength to get better.

Better physical health

Not only mental health but physical health is also significantly improved if an individual owns a pet. Researches have shown that pet owners have low blood pressure, even in stressful situations. Playing with pets can elevate the levels of serotonin and dopamine the “feel good” neurotransmitters which make us feel happy and calm. Their heart rate is more stable reducing the chances of heart attack and lowering cholesterol levels in the body. As the saying goes a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, therefore one must find their best pets for depression to ensure that our physical health is top-notch.

Finding meaning in life

Depression leads to us feeling hopeless and helpless about the dim future that we see for ourselves. Pets change that but giving us the responsibility of taking care of them. Even on days when we have no motivation to get out of bed, we push our body and make an effort to wake up even if it is just a minute to feed them. Many people have reported that during their hardest time when they felt life had no meaning, the thought that their pets need them made them find their meaning in life.

Increase vitality

Because of depression our body feels tired all the time and moving feel like an enormous effort taking activity. Having a pet around make us get up, go for a walk, play and run with them helping us overcome our tiredness and finding the energy to go through the day. Pets encourage laughter, exercise and playfulness that help in boosting one’s immune system, therefore one must find their best pets for depression.

Provide emotional support

Even though we know our pets cannot understand what we are saying and neither can we understand their language, there is a healthy communication system that we have with them. When we tell them our problems it is not our words but our body language and tone that they are able to pick up on and provide us with the comfort we need. They are the most non-judgement and patient listeners we can find.

Provide physical comfort

We, humans, are social beings who love the idea of embracing someone after a long day. Hugging a pet releases the same chemical in the brain when we hug our family or friends. Playing, petting or just basic interaction with our pets provide us with the assurance that someone is there with us and we are not all alone, therefore one must find their best pets for depression. Physical touch is very important when we are depressed as it removes the feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Factors to keep in mind while choosing the right pet

·         Based on your allergies you can see what type of pet you want.

·         Taking care of a pet is a costly affair. Ensure that you have a budget to spend on their food, cage, harness, bed, medical expenses, etc.

·         If you buy your pet when they are newborn taking care and training them would require that much effort and time. But if you get a well-trained older pet, you might lose on the additional years that they could have stayed with you.

·         You should take into consideration the house or apartment that you live in. The size of your room will greatly affect which pet you choose. In case you are staying in a one-bedroom apartment, having a guinea pig or fish might be more feasible than keeping a dog.

·         Depending upon your lifestyle and work schedule you should decide upon bringing a pet that you should get. In case you spend a lot outside you can have pets that do not require constant attention from you.

FAQs

What breed of dog is best for anxiety and depression?

Dogs are the best pets for depression, some of the best breeds are:
·                  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
·                  Poodle
·                  Viszla
·                  Labrador Retriever
·                  Golden Retriever
·                  Pug
·                  Yorkshire Terrier
But depending upon your choice and connection with the dog, you can seek other breeds available in your country.

Is having a pet good for depression?

Yes, having pets can significantly reduce our symptoms of depression like hopelessness, tiredness, loneliness and sadness and boost our energy levels, make us feel loved and wanted while also making us laugh and look forward to life. They have a positive impact on our physical health as well which is important to maintain during depression, therefore one must find their best pets for depression.

What is the best pet for anxiety?

Most of the pets are good for anxiety but a few dog breeds are the best, as they are more easily manageable. They are:
·         Chihuahuas
·         French Bulldogs
·         Corgis
·         Cocker Spaniels
·         Golden or Labrador Retrievers
·         Dachshunds

Is there a service dog for depression?

Yes, there are service dogs that are trained to understand human body language and facial expressions. These dogs assist people with mental health issues by providing love and comfort when required, therefore one must find their best pets for depression.

Can dogs sense depression in humans?

According to research, it has been seen that dogs are able to understand our body language and facial expressions. They are able to guess our emotions and respond to them accordingly. They can sense when their human is sad or depressed and will try and provide them with comfort.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

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