Stress is one of the biggest causes for negative mental health issues amongst working professionals, but can pet ownership help restore the balance between work and home life?
Pets can help mitigate some of the effects of stress such as anxiety and depression, but whether this will be enough to significantly reduce mental health issues is yet to be seen. Some research has shown that pets can have a calming effect on those suffering from PTSD, but in order to do so they must form a strong bond with their pet. This is very difficult for those who have been through severe trauma, especially when they are no longer living in the place where the trauma occurred, and it may not be enough to restore their mental health.
Many pet owners say that their pets help them to sleep better at night. This sounds like a psychological effect rather than an actual physical benefit of owning a pet. There are many studies about the relationship between stress and insomnia, but not many on the use of pets as a treatment for insomnia.
There are many studies on how pets can benefit people with mental health issues, but many of these focus on children and the elderly. It is difficult to find academic research into the benefits pets may have on working adults. Most studies tend to be conducted by charities such as Pet Partners or the RSPCA, whose aim is to promote pet ownership, rather than by academic institutions who want to discover if pet ownership can cure mental health issues. This makes it very difficult to get a clear idea of how beneficial pet ownership may be.
Pets can offer support and unconditional love to those suffering from mental health issues, but this support is not enough in itself. It is also important that the owner of the pet finds ways to rid themselves of stress, such as taking care of their personal relationships with friends and family or engaging in other activities which they enjoy. Only people who can find these ways to relax and reduce their stress levels will benefit from pet ownership.
Pets are good for restoring a sense of humor in those who have lost their ability to laugh or smile. This is through decrease in anxiety and stress, which can cause depression, and it is also through the release of endorphins in the brain. Pets can offer emotional support to people with mental health issues, but this support may not be enough to restore the balance of life as it was before they began suffering from mental health issues.