Dogs for Depression
Submitted by Dogs for Depression
Dogs for Depression was formed in 2009, inspired by its founder Kiri’s personal experience of recovering from severe depression with the aid of a rescued emotional support dog. After trying countless different medications, many of which had side effects as challenging as the depression, rescuing a support dog finally provided the strength and support she needed to combat her illness and rebuild her life.
Frustrated by the lack of awareness and buy-in among medical clinicians of the tremendous difference her emotional support dog was making in her life, she founded Dogs for Depression. Dogs for Depression (“DFD”) aims to raise public awareness of the powerful psychological and emotional health benefits a support dog can give to someone suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental illness.
“Even though the therapeutic benefits for patients of bringing a therapy dog into hospital are well documented, and the concept of using service dogs for other conditions is well established, for some reason the health benefits of using a support dog to help depression are still going unrecognised.”
The organisation provides online information on the different ways an emotional support dog can help a depression sufferer and advice on selecting, and caring for a suitable rescue dog. Dogs are social animals and instinctively form close bonds with other members of their family. This enables them to help depression sufferers in a number of different way :-
- Physical touch - for example helping calm people suffering panic attacks
- Giving affection and boosting self-esteem
- Reducing isolation and loneliness
- Providing exercise and routine
- Being a source of laughter
In the three years since it was started, Dogs for Depression has received a powerful response from the public: “We’ve been astonished at the number of heartfelt messages of support we receive from people combating their illness with emotional support dogs – we’ve clearly struck a chord.
”Increasingly though DFD has also been receiving enquiries about equality issues, for example problems gaining permission to keep emotional support animals in rented housing. In one case the facts provided by Dogs for Depression even helped someone overturn a no-pets clause and keep their emotional support dog.
According to Kiri “ The UK is light years behind the USA in terms of recognising the importance of assistance dogs and emotional support dogs for people suffering psychological conditions like depression, both legally and clinically. Today there is no way to register a psychological assistance dog in the same way you can for other disabilities and conditions – that’s just wrong.”
“Hopefully over time public and clinical awareness of the benefits of using support dogs to help people to recover from depression will continue to grow, people’s perceptions will change and more people will benefit from using emotional support dogs to help in their recovery from depression,” Kiri concludes.
You can find out more about Dogs for Depression here.