We all suffer from anxiety sometimes. Making a presentation is a common anxiety-inducing situation; job interviews are another. Living with an anxiety 24/7 is very hard, and people who suffer from an anxiety disorder may worry about social situations, specific things, their health, their physical appearance, or anything at all.
Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Some people have panic attacks when in a situation that makes them anxious. Others go light-headed, hot, dizzy, or have a hot flush. Increased heart rate, restlessness, and feelings of nausea are all common symptoms of anxiety, none of which are very pleasant.
Treatment for anxiety disorders varies from medication to hypnosis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but there is evidence to suggest that interacting with dogs is an effective way to tackle the symptoms.
How Dogs Can Help
If you have ever spent time in the company of dogs, you will know that dogs can form a unique bond with their humans. They are in tune with our emotions and can detect when we are feeling sad, depressed, and anxious. Indeed, dogs are not immune to anxiety, and just like us, they can also suffer from anxiety disorders. In fact, dog separation anxiety is very common, especially in rescue dogs and dogs who have experienced trauma in their lives.
Studies have shown that dogs can help humans suffering from anxiety; and vice versa. A study carried out by the American Heart Association found that people with pet dogs had lower blood pressure and were less likely to have heart disease or die prematurely.
Life with a Dog
Dog owners won’t be too surprised by these findings. Interacting with a dog is a uniquely calming experience. Stroking and petting a dog makes us feel good, more relaxed, and calmer. Playing with a pet dog boosts the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the blood, which are nature’s happy hormones. Because of this, it stands to reason that anyone suffering from anxiety would benefit from spending quality time with a dog.
Most people with anxiety disorders instinctively hide indoors. They don’t enjoy socializing and they prefer not to go out much. Living with a dog means you have no choice but to go out two or three times a day. Owning a dog is a big responsibility. A dog relies on its owner for food, exercise, and companionship, so you have something to focus on other than your anxiety.
The Power of Doggy Love
Companionship is very important for people who live alone. If you don’t have someone to talk to, your dog is always happy to listen to your problems and respond with a happy lick or a woof. Stroking your dog will help to calm you down if you are having a panic attack or make it easier to socialize with friends or strangers.
If you are suffering from anxiety, owning, fostering, or even walking a neighbor’s dog a few times a week could make a real difference to your mental health. Dogs don’t judge you and they offer unconditional love. Try it and see what a difference a dog can make to your health and wellbeing