Skip to content

    Depression Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Pets for Depression and Health

    Can your depression problems improve when you interact with your pet?

    The Drawbacks of Getting a Pet for Depression

    Pets aren't for everyone with depression, Wright says. If you're depressed, think carefully before getting a pet. If you have a loved one with depression, don't assume that surprising him or her with a kitten will help. It could make things worse. Here are four things to ask yourself before getting a pet to help ease depression.

    • Are you comfortable with animals? A lot of people helped by pets had them as children. They're used to having an animal as a source of comfort. If you've never had a pet, it may be less likely to help now.
    • Will having a pet make you worry? Dwelling on death is a common sign of depression. If getting a pet just means that you'll worry constantly about it dying, that won't help, Wright says.
    • Is your depression too intense right now? "Taking care of a pet is not unlike taking care of a small child," Wright says. "If your depression is so severe that you can't take care of an animal, it's not a good idea to get one."
    • Can you afford a pet? Caring for pets can be expensive. The ASPCA estimates that in the first year, a cat can cost more than $1,000 and a dog up to almost $1,850.

    Even if getting a cat or dog isn't wise right now, other animals could help. Birds can be surprisingly affectionate and cost only $270 a year in care. While you may not want to snuggle with a fish or a turtle, caring for them could also improve your mood. It creates responsibility and a new focus. Studies have shown that watching fish can lower your pulse and ease muscle tension too.

    1 | 2
    Reviewed on August 03, 2012

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
    jk rowling
    Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
     
    depressed man sitting on hallway floor
    Learn the truth about this serious illness.
    Sad woman looking out of the window
    Tips to stay the treatment course.
     
    unhappy teen boy
    Health Check
    jk rowling
    Slideshow
     
    Pills with smiley faces
    Article
    Teen girl huddled outside house
    Article
     
    Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
    Article
    antidepressants slideshow
    Article
     
    pill bottle
    Article
    Winding path
    Article