How Service Dogs Help Treat Depression & Anxiety

2 min read 4 Comments

SitStay Blog How Service Dogs Help Treat Depression & Anxiety

Service dogs are some of humanity's most important partners in their fight against depression and anxiety. These dogs are trained to be reliable companions who can spot signs of difficulty when they arise. People who own service dogs may often find it better to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

Some of the things a service dog might do include:

  • Alerting the owner if they're showing signs consistent with an anxiety attack
  • Helping the owner out of a stressful situation that may turn worse
  • Providing comfort to ease everyday depression or anxiety symptoms

How Are These Dogs Trained?

One of the good things about these service dogs is the fact that the owner can take a leading role in their training. Each person has different needs, and their dog's training can easily reflect these needs. For many people, a service dog helps give them a greater sense of purpose that they would not have had previously.

There are multiple training methods worthy of consideration, including:

  • Training by the owner, customized to their particular needs
  • Professional training by a trainer who specializes in service dogs
  • A combination of self-training and professional training

Help with Depression

People often have depression for various reasons, and in many cases, develop depression symptoms after an illness or injury. The symptoms that people who live with depression might have to cope with include:

  • Severe disinterest in everyday life, including favorite activities
  • Going through periods of self-isolation and reduced contact with other people
  • Having trouble getting out of bed, caring for themselves, or remembering to take medications
  • Service dogs can learn to help spot where their owners are coping with depression and help them overcome the symptoms. A dog can offer a comforting touch when they know their owner feels down. Caring for a dog might help provide the motivation they need to get up and about.

Assistance for Anxiety

Many people suffer from symptoms related to anxiety, especially if they've experienced some type of trauma. Some of the more bothersome anxiety symptoms include:

  • Difficulty working outside the home
  • Reduced social contact due to being overwhelmed outside the home
  • Anxiety attacks or fear issues

Service dogs can help create a sense of calm and confidence when their owner has difficulty in social situations. In many cases, they can help make everyday life easier by being a source of comfort when the owner is feeling the stress of a social or work situation. A dog can also sense when the owner is about to have an anxiety attack.

Service dogs can make life much easier when you're coping with either depression or anxiety. Consider having such a dog in your life if you find it hard to cope with your symptoms.

4 Responses

Alli with SitStay
Alli with SitStay

April 06, 2018

Hi Autumn,

I would consult with your therapist and your mother together and see if an emotional support dog would be beneficial for you. Let me know if you have any more questions!

Thank you!

Autumn Rupert
Autumn Rupert

April 05, 2018

I found out from my therapist that I have severe anxiety and depression. I tried to talk to my mom about a service dog but she won’t listen, she says I do not qualify for a service dog. I have passed out in school a couple times from having a panic attack. I really need the advice to see what to do.

united service dog
united service dog

December 25, 2017

Nice read! Very informative. Something interesting
united service dog

Larry R Jackson
Larry R Jackson

December 11, 2016

My service dog, Ginger (7 years old & has been with me since 10 weeks old) helps me with my vertigo condition and my moments of depression. If I have a vertigo incident and I pass out, Ginger will lick my face and “jump up & down” on my chest. These two (2) behaviors revive me from passing out and helps ensure that I don’t have a cardiac event. As far as my moments of depression she “just knows” when I need her by my side so very much. I am a 75 year old man, and I pray that Ginger is with me as long as I am allowed to live this life that Jesus gives to me. Thank you for reading about me & Ginger.

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