Furry Companions May Be The Best Drug For Stubborn Depression

Furry Companions May Be The Best Drug For Stubborn Depression

To be sure, the positive effect of pet ownership on mental health is already well known, hence the many organizations training and placing service dogs with people suffering from PTSD or extreme anxiety and the booming – and sometimes abused – trend of emotional support animals.

Yet scientific research aimed at quantifying the therapeutic impact of such animals has yielded mixed results and the investigations are often too muddled by confounding factors to draw strong conclusions.

But now, a new study by a pair of Portuguese psychiatrists has found that adopting a dog or cat can greatly alleviate the pernicious type of depression that does not respond to conventional treatments.

As described in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, 33 formerly pet-free patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TR-MDD) experienced significant improvement in depression symptoms and social functioning just 12 weeks after going along with the doctors’ suggestion to bring home a pet, and incredibly, more than one-third no longer met the criteria for having the disorder. None of the 33 control patients who did not adopt pets showed a meaningful difference in depression scores.