Why Pets are Great for Mental Health

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Why Pets are Great for Mental Health

Jillian Stenzel

Written by Jillian Stenzel

Jillian Stenzel

Jillian Stenzel

A Nevada-bred traveler & food nerd who dances & eats spinach, sometimes simultaneously. She writes from wherever her curiosity demands, and is passionate about spreading the wisdom of better health.

April 11, 2018 / Read Time 2 minutes

Pets can make a difference for your mental health

1 in 5 adults report experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition over the course of a year. It’s also no secret that we all get stressed from time to time, and stress suppresses our immune system. In fact, you’re more likely to catch a cold than the person next to you if you’re the one under high stress. So why not introduce more anxiety relievers in your life? That’s one of the many reasons we love pets at PlushCare.

Simply petting a pet for a few minutes can lower your heart rate and help you to momentarily disconnect from life’s troubles. Studies have shown that dog owners tend to be less reactive, and even tend to experience fewer spikes in blood pressure in stressful situations. They are also more likely to return to a normal heart rate much faster after a stressful encounter than those who do not own pets.

Aside from their calming capabilities, pets can lighten the effects of depression, provide companionship, and fulfill the human need for touch. Particularly for those suffering from conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post traumatic stress disorder, pets were found to provide their owners with self-worth, support, and stability, as well as meaning to life.

Owners with these conditions even cited their duties as pet owners as factors preventing them from suicide or social isolation, as most pets need to be walked or cared for.

In one study, 60% of mentally ill participants even placed pets in the same social support circle as family members and social workers due to their pets’ ability to break through isolation when participants felt alienated.

The mental health benefits do not stop at adults, either. Studies have shown that pet ownership can reduce childhood anxiety and prevent the onset of emotional and behavioral disorders later on in life. In fact, children have ranked pets higher than adults on their ability to provide comfort!

Many connect the idea of pets to allergies, but pet ownership can also lower the risk of allergy, asthma and eczema development in children and young adults. If you want to make the jump into pet ownership, but are still worried about allergies, PlushCare now offers convenient respiratory allergy testing as well as medication refills if you decide it’s worth treating your allergies to live among a furry friend.

For those who are willing to invest the time, owning a pet can provide a much needed source of mental and physical TLC. By saving an unadopted pet from an animal shelter, you loosen the shackles of your own mental health issues. Sounds like a win-win to us.

So what do you think— should pets be included in your approach to better health? We're sure Fido wouldn’t mind!

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