For these people with depression, all treatment approaches had failed, but then they adopted a pet

Posted on January 8, 2019

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Antidepressant medications or a combination of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy are usually able to lift the low mood and emotional pain for people who are diagnosed with depression. Despite that, there are people diagnosed with what's known as "treatment-resistant major depressive disorder", who are not able to improve their conditions with either treatment. However, studies have found that adopting a pet have an increasing effect of anti-depressant medication for a significant minority of their participants were diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression.

The Clínica Médico-Psiquiátrica da Ordem in Porto conducted a study on the effects of pet adoption on depression and recruited 80 outpatients with severe treatment-resistant depression. Thirty-three of the participants agreed to adopt a pet (20 adopted a dog or dogs, 7 a cat), while 33 participants declined were allocated to form a control group. All the participants were required to assess their depression symptoms and general functioning at baseline and then subsequent follow-up assessments (4, 8, and 12-week follow-up). Thirty participants in each group successfully attended all the required assessments.

At the end of the study (at the 12-week assessment), the results have shown that slightly over a third of the pet-adoption group have rated their problems as mild. Whereas, the results for the control group had displayed no changes in their symptoms at all. The pet-adoption group began to show signs of improvements by week 4 follow-up, showing the clear benefits of pet ownership were quick.

The study then suggested that people with treatment-resistant depression are encouraged to adopt a pet as it benefits their mental health. The therapeutic effects may be due to the responsibilities involved in adopting a pet may serve to decrease the loss of motivation and pleasure which is associated with depression, and from the social aspects that increases the occurrence of meeting other pet owners when walking the pet.


Source material from BPS Digest

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