ADOPTING A PET CAN HELP RELIEVE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
The old adage that a dog is a man’s best friend might sound hackneyed and a little sexist, but new research reveals there is some truth in it, at least where someone’s mental health is concerned.
According to a study published in a
Journal of Psychiatric Research, adopting a pet could offer respite to those with severe depression that has low rates of remission and cannot be easily treated with antidepressant medications or psychotherapy.
Two Portuguese researchers recruited 80 participants with this kind of depression, known as “treatment-resistant major depressive disorder,” and found that adopting a pet “enhanced” the effects of antidepressant medication for a signiicant minority of their volunteers.
Jorge Mota Pereira and Daniela Fonte at the Clínica Médico-psiquiátrica invited all participants to adopt a pet as part of the study; 33 agreed to do so, with 20 people choosing dogs and seven choosing cats. Their depression symptoms were evaluated over a 12 week-long period, with checkups taking place at four and eight weeks.
By the end of the study, Pereira and Fonte found that more than a third of the group who adopted pets had improved their scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Global Assessment of Functioning
Scale to the point where their symptoms could be considered mild.