The Gulf Today - Panorama - - HAVE YOU HEARD? -

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.

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