Can Having a Dog Can Help You Fight Anxiety and Depression?

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

The answer is Yes. This interview says it all. Having a dog can save your life. It has long been proven that pets lift the mood of their owners, and due to the fact that they are so adorable, it’s easy to see why! However, it’s more than just their cute wet noses and puppy dog eyes that make you feel better. It’s the companionship, the mutual love, and most of all that assertion that, “you have a purpose. You have that extra incentive to do good,” as the man in the video states. Pets are a Drug-Free Way to Fight Depression and Anxiety Dogs before drugs, amirite?! Dogs are a great alternative to fight depression and anxiety. Even if you do take medications, getting a dog could be a pivotal addition to your life. Speaking of his dog, the man in the video admits: I bought him off the street and the vet told me he was 4 weeks old, and doped up on Valium so he didn’t cry for his mum. So I had to get him off the drugs, meaning I had to get off them too, and I have done so much better since then. For substance abusers, dealing with your urges is the most difficult part of your recovery. It doesn’t matter whether you are addicted to meth or you’re addicted to food, those urges will resurface time and time again. Addiction, which includes eating disorders, are terribly difficult to recover from. The man admits how his dog helped him at his lowest point when he considered jumping off of a bridge: There was a time where I fell to a low point again. I was contemplating suicide. I was gonna throw myself in. I had Bailey [his dog] with me. I was thinking, do I chuck-do I go in with him?! We all live only once, so who am I to choose when his times up? That was the lowest I’ve been. I sat there for a couple of hours just staring at him, and he just convinced me, ‘cuz there is communication there. It may not be in words, but it’s there. He turned me around again. Again, like I said, he’s a lifesaver. Companionship is something all humans crave and are drawn to. When in a bout of depression or a fit of anxiety, snuggling up with your fur baby will undoubtedly raise your spirits and calm your nerves. They remind you that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that you are needed. My Experience With Dogs as a Remedy My dog, Daisy, truly helped me out of some of my darkest times. She is an active dog, meaning she absolutely has to be exercised every day or she becomes restless and starts destroying things. Because of this, she has gotten me outside and out of my funk on many days when I didn’t even want to get out of bed. There was one day when I chose to let my depression win, and I was stuck in its fog. I found that Daisy destroyed a 24 pack of toilet paper that I had left outside, and I couldn’t even blame her. She depended on me to take care of her well-being, and to do so I had to also take care of myself. I never really had routine before, as I would so easily let myself slip out of it and into a black hole of depression, but with her bright personality, eager to give me kisses and waiting for me to take her outside, it wasn’t long before keeping up with her became part of my daily life. Having a Dog Means Healthy Responsibility, Which is Proven to Alleviate Depression. Dogs really do help alleviate depression. Daisy gave me a reason to get up in the morning and taught me to love myself. According to some studies, depression can be fought by having responsibilities because it gives you a purpose. And, let’s be honest, having a dog is a big responsibility. So, if you succeed at keeping him/her healthy and happy, you will build stronger self-esteem, and in time you will find an increase in your positive emotions such as comfort, love, enthusiasm and empathy. Going back to the man from the video, he reveals that: When you feel like nobody cares, you kind of believe it, but when you have [a] dog that needs things, he’s looking at you to play, for food…and I have met so many people through my dog. It’s having another heartbeat that is by your side… They can cure anything really–they have infinite love. My dog has taught me how to love, now I can give and receive it. It’s an amazing thing. Which brings me to my next point, which is how much dogs can help bring you friends for life. Dogs Treat Loneliness in More Ways Than One. Other than having a loyal doggo by your side, having a dog has the potential to bring you friends for life. I dare you to walk down the street with a dog and have nobody stop to chat with you. Having a dog is a great conversation starter, therefore a great way to meet new people. Maybe I should make a YouTube video of myself walking down a street alone v.s. with a dog, so I can emphasize how dogs really bring out the best in people and the community. It’s similar to people on overseas holidays. The environment change means they are often much more positive, adventurous, curious and friendly than when in their home city and in their comfort zone. Small details easily change a person’s mindset subliminally. Having a dog gives you a natural icebreaker when meeting new people and beating loneliness! Final Thoughts I have a passion for dogs and the joy they bring people. I still find so much joy in bringing my dog to public places where she can bring thousands of smiles and affection to complete strangers. It makes me feel good. Seeing how drastically they can help sufferers of depression and anxiety has inspired me to create a hashtag #DogsForTheBlackDog, as “black dog” is a term for depression. If you feel the same and have photos of dogs you want to share, feel free to use the hashtag and start a conversation! You could help someone to see that there IS a way out of the black hole that is depression and anxiety and help them find the road to recovery. If you are having suicidal thoughts, the first step to recovery is seeking help. Here is a list of international suicide hotlines. Help is only a phone call away. No matter how big your problems may feel right now, I can assure you that there is a solution. I know how it feels to think there is no way out, but I can tell you from personal experience that there is. I am always here for anybody who feels the need to talk to someone who cares. You can message me via my Instagram account anytime, and I promise to listen to you. Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family, you never know who it might help!