Sure, you must have introduced your pet as the fifth member of your house to many. The human-animal bond is a legacy that continues to be followed to this day. It has come a long way since historical times when a low-cost and low-maintenance companion, cricket was a favorite pet for limited people in China to having lions, lemurs, and leopards as pets in recent years
So, it’s no surprise that stress levels drop because of your beloved pet. However, a new study, published in BMC Psychiatry found that pets also have the power to boost the mental health of their owners.
There is an increased awareness of the therapeutic effects of pet. However, their effect on mental health remains unexplored. Therefore, researchers from the universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton aimed to explore this grey area.
Scientists considered 17 international research papers for their study. The analysis was done considering all the positive, negative and neutral aspects of pet ownership. The results showed that they do have negative effects, which includes the practical and emotional burden of pet ownership and the psychological impact of losing a pet. However, on the brighter side, it highlighted the ‘intensiveness’ of the human-animal bond and the various ways in which pets contribute to owners mental health conditions, especially in times of crisis.
“Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions. Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem,” said lead author Dr. Helen Brooks, University of Liverpool.
About 80 million Americans share the human-animal bond. Reducing stress levels, bracing with love, providing emotional support, or dispelling loneliness; our furry companions have been influencing our happiness since ages. Now, they are influencing our health too!