Companion animals can help people deal with depression

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President and CEO, American Humane Society

America is suffering from a mental health tragedy. Forty percent of Americans — and a whopping 75 percent of young adults — are struggling with a mental health issue or drug-related problem during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the onset of winter, and Seasonal Affective Disorder, the situation is likely to deteriorate further in the coming months.

Companion animals can help many people cope this winter. Pets such as cats and dogs are proven to improve their owner’s mental health by mitigating symptoms of depression and anxiety such as worrying and loneliness while boosting feelings of calmness. The routine habits involved with caring for a living animal can also help give their owner’s lives a sense of meaning and purpose.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 900-273-8255. If you have the means to bring an animal into your home, call your local shelter and consider adopting as soon as possible. The healing power of the human-animal bond can help us all this winter.

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