Skip to content

Depression Health Center

Pets for Depression and Health

Can your depression problems improve when you interact with your pet?
Font Size
A
A
A

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.
light therapy
What are the symptoms?
 
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
woman relaxing with exercise ball
Article
 
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