The subject of support animals comes up a lot lately, but is there any validity to pets helping fight anxiety? Many people find comfort in being around their cats, dogs, and other pets, but how much do they really contribute to curing an anxiety disorder? Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson explores the practice of having furry (and feathery and scaly) friends to help you feel better, as well as other methods to help people reduce their anxiety.
Do Pets Really Help With Anxiety Symptoms?
Ask most pet owners if having a pet around makes them happy and they will say yes, but can they really help reduce symptoms of anxiety? Absolutely, they can, which is why pet ownership can be a missing link in improving feelings of anxiety.
How Do Pets Help Anxiety?
How pets help anxiety is more than just sitting on a couch or bed petting them, although that has its own benefits. Studies show that petting a dog can lower a person’s blood pressure. Other positive, anxiety-reducing results of having a pet include:
Companionship: People who live alone often feel less stressed when they have an animal companion. Having a pet gives them a sense of security and knowledge that someone else loves and cares for them.
Gets You Moving: Having a pet typically makes a person more active. Taking a dog for a walk and playing with pets provides exercise, which is a natural way to lower stress levels.
Increases Social Life: Dog owners, in particular, can meet other people when they take their dogs on walks or to a dog park. Owners of all pets can get out of the house more often to buy pet supplies, go to training classes, or as part of a group of owners of the same type of animal.
Creates a Schedule: Someone with anxiety often has a chaotic life or one without continuity of daily activities. Pets add structure because they require a schedule for things like feeding, exercising, and sleeping. This helps people with anxiety create a schedule that makes their life more structured.
What are the Best Types of Pets for Anxiety?
There are five types of pets that prove the most beneficial when it comes to fighting anxiety.
- Dogs: They require exercise and enjoy giving and receiving love and attention.
- Cats: Felines usually love attention and affection. Some evidence suggests that listening to a cat’s purr can help people who have symptoms of anxiety.
- Fish: While you cannot pet fish or take them for a walk, many people find just watching their activity in an aquarium quite peaceful.
- Birds: Owning a bird provides companionship and ones that talk can even participate in “conversations”. Even bird-watching as an activity can provide a social life and a reason to get out of the house.
- Rabbits: Some bunnies love to sit in a person’s lap while others are more active. Studies suggest owning a rabbit helps reduce anxiety.
Keep in mind that pets aren’t a perfect match unless the person truly wants an animal and is prepared to take care of them every day.
Can Animals Help With Other Mental Health Disorders as Well?
Having pets doesn’t just help people with anxiety. In fact, animals can help people with a variety of mental health disorders. For example, people with depression often experience many of the same improvements that people with anxiety feel. Having another being to love and receive love from creates a way to feel less depressed.
Additionally, many people with ADHD report that having a pet helps them reduce their symptoms. The reason for this has to do with the fact that having a pet creates structures and a daily schedule. Both of these things are often absent from the life of someone with ADHD, so developing them can be beneficial. People on the autism spectrum can also improve their symptoms when they have a pet. They experience a calming feeling when around their pets and can also learn to build social connections around a shared love of animals.
How to Find a Pet-Friendly Mental Health Treatment Center Near You
Some treatment centers allow people to bring a pet with them to help provide support while they get the help they need. Because this is a specialized amenity, make sure to check with a program before bringing your pet. An online search can be done or the person can contact a treatment program they are already interested in to discuss their policy. This also provides a great opportunity to ask other questions about the treatment facility and how they can help the person overcome their anxiety.
Contact Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson, Arizona Today
Do you deal with a lot of anxiety and it hampers your ability to enjoy your life? Life with an anxiety disorder can not only make your social life and career difficult, but it also takes an emotional and physical toll. Having a beloved pet with you can help ease some of the frustration and stress, but more formal treatment is also needed. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson provides residential care for people with all types of anxiety disorders. We believe in focused care that meets the exact needs of each person we treat. We get to know you and match you with different types of therapy to help you feel better. Our staff can also provide prescription medications that provide powerful results.
Visit our admissions page now to see what we can do for you. Our friendly staff can answer any questions you have.