According to the latest meta-analysis, having pets around benefits people with mental health conditions
The research is based on pet owners’ testimonials, as the animals are considered to provide significant support for people with mental health issues, such as: depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or PTSD. According to their opinion, the furry companions can offer a feeling of stability and meaning in one’s life, as well as alleviate loneliness.
The study was led by Dr. Helen Louise Brooks, from the University of Liverpool in the UK. The doctor and her colleagues gathered data from 9 medical data bases, 8.000 articles and 17 papers in order to reach their conclusions.
Turns out that cats, dogs, hamsters, finches, and even goldfish considerably benefit people living with a diagnosed mental disorder, as the animals allowed their owners to strengthen social connections as diminished the associated mental illness symptoms with their unconditional love and support.
“Pets provided acceptance without judgment, giving unconditional support, which [participants] were often not receiving from other family or social relationships. This review suggests that pets can provide benefits to those with mental health conditions. However, further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship and the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health,” commented Dr. Brooks.
To this extent, authors believe that pets should be included in patient care plans in hospitals worldwide.
“We feel that pet ownership has a valuable contribution to mental health, so should be incorporated into individual care plans of patients. This sort of intervention also offers an opportunity to involve patients in their own mental health service provision through open discussion of what works best for them,” added study co-author Dr. Kelly Rushton.
The study findings were published in the journal BMC Psychiatry.
Moreover, other studies reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had great results: parents are also encouraged to get pets for their children, in order to keep them away from anxiety and obesity.
So, if you don’t own a pet, maybe you should consider improving your life and pay a visit to the nearest adoption center!