As the year 2023 unfolds, mental health is gaining more attention and importance with the aid of new studies and technologies. However, even in previous years, various studies have explored factors associated with mental well-being, including the positive impact of having pets.
Pets: More Than Companions:
For some, pets are merely animals and additional family members, bringing joy to people of all ages, be it children, adolescents, adults, or seniors.
The Psychological Benefits:
Pets play a pivotal role in improving mental health, especially for those experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies dating back 30 years showed that petting a friendly dog can lead to reduced blood pressure, slower heart rate, regular breathing, and relaxed muscles in subjects.
In a recent study by Allen McConnell and Christina Brown in 2022, pet owners exhibited greater self-esteem, physical fitness, less loneliness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and reduced fear and preoccupation compared to non-owners.
Psychological Benefits of Owning a Pet:
Lowering Stress Hormones:
Interacting with pets has been found to increase serotonin and dopamine levels, responsible for promoting calmness and relaxation. Additionally, such interactions reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone, making pets ideal companions for those with anxiety.
Protection from Childhood Anxiety:
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children with pets had lower anxiety screening test results than those without pets.
Pets offer a sense of purpose and meaning to their owners, reducing feelings of loneliness and depression, as taking care of them creates a feeling of doing good for others.
Adding Structure to Daily Life:
Pets establish a daily routine of feeding, exercise, and playtime, contributing to a sense of balance and calmness, even amidst a busy schedule.
A Small Reminder: A Major Commitment:
Although owning a pet can bring joy and improve mental well-being, it is essential to remember that pets are not a cure-all for mental health issues. Seeking professional advice is crucial to avoid adding more challenges to one’s life. Caring for a pet requires time, attention, and financial responsibility, and they may exhibit destructive behaviors at times.
The impact of pets on mental health cannot be underestimated. Their companionship and unconditional love offer numerous psychological benefits, making them valuable members of our lives.