How Service Dogs Help Humans with Anxiety and Depression
We live, we breathe, we eat, and then one day eventually die. Life is fleeting and moments are more precious as time never halts for a soul. Happiness is a concept and reality is the truth. They coexist in a sort of mental and physical harmony. Where we are happy and our reality stays intact. But that reality crumbles faster than a house of cards built on ice. Theoretically, it should not falter without any disturbances from outside.
But in reality, demons lurk within us, waiting for the moment when we let out guards down to pounce and destroy everything we hold dear. Depression is as such, a demon that no man can tame or run from. It latches on and over time you lose yourself, your family, your friends, and everything you hold dear.
If it’s so impossibly powerful, then how do we face such a thing?
Well, there are many ways to deal with depression. Nothing can be set in stone as which method is appropriate and the most effective. Everything has a caveat. Either too expensive or not effective on some individuals or others too far gone. This is where life companions come into the equation. A person or a helper whom the depressed person is entrusted to. To care for you every step of the way and always be there in the extremes of the lows you hit.
Dogs are such companions. Built with a lard heart in less intelligent souls. They love you dearly without hesitation and on top of that, they can be trained to help you in your time of need. They are called service dogs who make your life easier as you learn to deal with your problems, be it physical or mental.
Related Post: Emotional Support Animal
Service dogs are known as assistant dogs outside of the USA. Simply put, they are dogs that assist people with some sort of mental or physical disability to make their life much easier and they also have the added effect of being able to help them overcome these disabilities, if possible.
They are often known to be by the side of blind people, guiding them through the roads and helping them navigate through their daily lives. They are also very well known to be companions of veterans from wars, helping them cope or hopefully overcome PTSD. A service dog can provide similar benefits and aid to those people that experience feelings of depression or struggle with other mental health conditions.
Criteria To Be Provided With Service Dogs
Service dogs are trained by medical veterinarians and psychologists to aid in the lives of individuals who can’t properly take care of themselves. They require over 600 hours of training by medical professionals and they also need to be well versed in sensing human emotions, especially stress, anxiety, and depression. These professionally trained dogs end up costing a bit more than average people can handle. And on top of that, you either need to have an illness, disorder, or disability that the official medical personal believe warrants providing dogs such as these. Especially, psychiatric service dogs, as they need to be recommended by a medical doctor.
Out of the thousands of people with such mental disorders, only a fraction has the opportunity to get these dogs that meet such criteria’s and pet dogs can’t be trained to have the same functionality.
These dogs are very special. As they are selected through a considerable amount of vetting to find the right tempered one for such delicate tasks.
- The help to get you medication when you need them right on time. They also bring water to you if need be.
- During an anxiety attack, they will try to bring attention to you by getting others.
- They can keep others at a distance if that is something that makes the disordered person feel distressed.
- They will get phones to you when you are in bad shape and can’t reach your phone.
- They can do chest compression in some cases with larger dogs.
- They can weigh on your body as a way to give you comfort with their presence. Lick your hand or face.
- They keep you grounded when you need someone the most and accompany you.
- In cases of PTSD, they can also be trained to turn on and off your lights to check if the person has any breakdowns.
- These are all the abilities service dogs have over normal pet dogs.
Other Benefits To Having A Service Dog
Having a pet can be a great responsibility and they need regular meals, exercise, playing time, and sleep. This all builds a sense of routine in a person’s life. Often distracting a person, especially if they experience feelings of depression. If the person has a mental health condition, a service dog can provide a lot of support and comfort. For more information on how people cope with service dogs for depression, read this article from BetterHelp.
Coping with Stress and Depression
Stress and depression are directly affected by a dog’s presence in your life positively with just their presence alone in daily life. Human interaction with dogs releases hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine in the body relieving stress and increasing the happiness in a person.
Oxytocin is associated with feelings of affection and love. This is released when we pet our dogs and interact with them in loving and caring ways. This is also shown in mothers as they look at their babies. This parental love is what most owners have for their dogs and play a huge role in coping with stress. Their accompaniment helps us relieve stress in many ways.
The person often exercises more as they go out to walk their dog and play with their dog. This is also a major factor for a person to be pushed for a healthier lifestyle. Exercise and fitness can relieve symptoms of depression. For example, many bodybuilders have coped with depression through the goal of building a body. Having goals are very important and they always come to your aid.
They serve as major therapy for our minds and helps us to build confidence. Service dogs are very helpful and are a much more proper way of dealing with depression then relying on medication.