It’s no secret that pets help us in several ways. Now, scientists prove that companion animals help people better cope with mental disorders, such as depression.

Hugo Sanchez Castillo, an academic from the psychology department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said having a physical contact with pets affects the production of endorphins, hormones that create positive emotions, which acts as powerful painkillers.

At the same time, he explained that having pets help older people have better movement patterns, a sense of occupation and general well-being, which results in the activation of their immune system.

Castillo said that those who suffer from depression, though pets can largely help them in overcoming it, it is still important that they have a strong bond otherwise, the animal is unlikely to contribute.

“A person with depression has a limited experience of pleasure (anhedonia) and interaction with people, so they retract and fall prey to a feeling of loneliness and isolation, feelings of guilt and circulating or repetitive thoughts,” he explained.

“Then companion animals can provide a sense of accompaniment.”

Dogs are also suitable companions for young children, Castillo added. Having a canine friend helps them acquire emotional regulation and interact better with their surroundings.

“But it is not advisable to give them fragile species such as birds or rodents, because due to their lack of fine motor skills, they tend to be very rough,” he said.

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