The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Pets and Mental Health

Whats do pets have to do with one's mental health? Quite a bit actually. It has been found that having pets, such as cats or dogs, actually lower blood pressure and improve physical health of owners. This trend is also found in correlation with mood and anxiety disorders. According to an article on www.moodletter.com, pets provide companionship, helping owners to feel less lonely. The responsibility of caring for a pet also can help individuals struggling with depression and getting motivated. It requires you to feed, walk, and clean up after your pet, which also promotes excercising. It promotes mental stability, through petting and cuddling with your pet. All in all, having animals in your life is a rather positive thing. (http://www.moodletter.com/PetsandMentalHealth.htm)

Therapists, hospitals, nursing centers, and other healthcare oriented programs are increasingly instituting animal therapy into clients' and patients' daily routines. Pet therapy is gaining popularity because it works. Think about how you feel when you have that special bond and unconditional with your cat or dog. They listen. They don't talk back. They love you whether you like it or not. Petting your animal can release stress and anxiety. Healthcare providers are seeing that individuals are demonstrating improved moods, less depression and anxiety, when engaging with animals. (http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/36/3/17.1.full)

It doesn't have to just be a cat or a dog! Rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets...the list goes on and on. Can't afford to keep a pet? Volunteer at a local shelter or pet store. There are so many ways to get involved with animals without actually having to own one. Google counselors in your area with "pet therapy" as a keyword. See what you come up with! Need ideas on how to find these resources in your community or how a pet might enhance your life? Check out LivePerson to speak with a licensed counselor live.

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