Living with mental illness presents daily challenges. Loneliness and isolation are common struggles among people with mental health conditions as are stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.
While they’re no substitute for professional mental health treatment, dogs can improve daily life for people with mental illness.
Dogs provide companionship
Hanging out with your dog can provide the same benefits as hanging out with a friend, according to Scientific American. Like chatting with a good friend, interacting with dogs increases levels of neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and dopamine that promote positive emotions and bonding.
That’s great for people with mental illnesses that make socializing with peers difficult because loneliness is a problem with serious health consequences. People who are chronically lonely have higher blood pressure, weaker immune systems, worse sleep and greater levels of inflammation than their socially connected peers. By finding companionship in four-legged friends, people with mental illness can reduce feelings of loneliness and the associated health impacts. Continue reading “5 ways dogs help improve the lives of people with mental illness”