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A woman lovingly boops her dog's nose on a walk

How Pets Help Me Live With Depression

Depression has a way of making those living with it feel completely alone. Additionally, isolation has a way of increasing the risk of depression. It can be a very vicious cycle as they continue to contribute to one another. Sometimes something as simple as having a pet can help break this cycle.

Caring for pets helps my depression

In my opinion, caring for pets provides a sense of purpose. Pets rely on us for their comfort and survival. They need food, water, affection, sometimes even medication. These requirements can be the motivation needed to get out of bed even when depression is at its worst.

Depending on the living situation, having pets like dogs may involve going outside for bathroom breaks and playtime. This is especially true for those living in an apartment or for those who do not have a dog door in their home.

When I was staying in an apartment, having the dogs forced me to be social, despite my desire to be withdrawn. The dogs needed walks and time to play at the small dog park. I quickly learned that those times out of the apartment would normally involve some form of small talk with other residents.

This or That

Which do you prefer?

My depression treatment plan

I have fought depression for the majority of my life. As I have aged, my depression has become worse instead of getting better. I see both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. This means that I participate in talk therapy and take multiple medications to manage my mental health.

Despite all of this, I honestly still struggle with my mental health.

Finding my joy

One of the hardest assignments I ever had from my psychologist was to find my joy. This felt like such an impossible task. I have long since lost an interest in everything that once brought me joy. Eventually, I became frustrated with trying to use this coping tool. This led me to make some hot tea and climb into a dog pile on my couch.

My brain engaged once I was snuggled in with my fuzzy weighted blanket and all 3 of my dogs. A joy in my life surrounded me, in the form of 3 furry companions. These pups have never failed to provide me with comfort and entertainment.

My dogs help me manage my depression

On my darkest days, my dogs always provide me with companionship and a sense of purpose. Regardless of how badly my heart hurts, my dogs love to cuddle with me. I find it comforting to pet them. Their affection also makes me feel less alone.

I also know that my pets rely on me for their comfort and survival. Knowing that they need to be fed and their water needs to be refreshed helps to motivate me to leave my bed. My full-size dog also enjoys going on adventures. This helps to get me out of my house sometimes by taking him for a walk or a car ride.

They get me through my darkest moments

In the fashion of being bluntly honest, I have been suicidal in the past. Prior to adopting my oldest dog, I attempted to end my life.

While I still work on living with suicidal thoughts, I have noticed that feeling responsible for my dogs lowers my follow-through on these dark thoughts. I have a hard time with the unknown about what would happen to the dogs if I left this world behind.

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