If you experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you are definitely not alone. SAD is a common condition, especially among those who live in areas with significant seasonal changes such as short, dark days. SAD doesn't always exist in as a separate condition -- those with generalized depressive disorders often experience it as well, causing them to experience greater-than-normal episodes of depression during the winter months. If you're like most people who suffer with SAD, you're probably familiar with light therapy and perhaps with certain types of prescribed medication -- and you may already know that managing depression often takes a multifaceted approach rather than depending on just one strategy.
If your current strategy isn't quite doing the trick, you might want to consider adding a therapy dog to your depression-fighting arsenal. Following are several of the many ways that the right furry friend can help you beat general depression as well as combat the winter blues.
You'll Get More Exercise
Most people tend to get less exercise during the winter months because they're spending more time indoors. Instead of walking or biking to work, for instance, it's likely that you're taking public transit or driving your car. If you're an outdoor sports enthusiast, your activity levels have probably decreased substantially now that winter has begun in earnest. Dogs need to be exercised no matter what the season, so you'll be heading to the park on a regular basis with your pooch.
Exercise releases endorphins as well as helps regulate the body's production of serotonin, and you'll also get more vitamin D if you spent time outdoors. Low levels of vitamin D have long been associated with SAD. There is also a possibility that spending time exercising your dog in a neighborhood park will result in friendly conversation with other pet owners, and pleasant social interaction can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
You'll Get Unconditional Love
A wagging tail and irresistible face that is happy to see you when you come home from work at the end of the day will lift your spirits no matter what time of year, but there's something about coming home in the dark that makes this scenario particularly welcoming. It's hard to feel blue when you're interacting with a creature who accepts you as you are, and the very act of petting an animal is known to release endorphins.
A mental health professional , such as at Psych Dimensions Inc,can provide you with more information on the benefits of having a therapy dog.