We all love our furry friends. They put smiles on our faces with their wake-up kisses, and their cuddles are just what we need after a long day at work.
But a recent study has found that dogs and cats can do even more than we previously thought for their human best friends. For people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, pets may even make a difference in their prospects for remission.
“Treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TR-MDD) is a severe disease, with very low remission rates,” according to the study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. When researchers asked 80 patients to adopt pets, 33 of them chose to do so, and the results were a major breakthrough.
When the new pet owners were compared to a control group of patients who refused to adopt pets, they had higher remission and response rates and tested better on scales meant to rate depression symptoms.
Of course, a dog or cat isn’t medicine, and all of the patients in the study continued to use their usual pharmacotherapy, according to the authors. But the results do seem to indicate that pets can help some people who are suffering from mental illness, and patients for TR-MDD should be encouraged to adopt a pet if they are open to it.
Sometimes, heroes look like a man or a woman in a cape flying through the sky on the big screen. But other times, they’re a fluffy puppy who makes life that much better just with his presence.
As scientists continue to explore what emotional support and therapy animals can do for mental health, it’s exciting to see that some people are getting the help they need from a new friend.