James Middleton: How Can Being a Dog Owner Help With Depression?
Kate Middleton’s brother James recently opened up about his painful and very private battle with depression, Today reports. The Duchess of Cambridge’s younger brother broke his silence, referring to his struggle as “a cancer of the mind.”
His op-ed in The Daily Mail painted a picture of an isolated and tortured individual who suffered from insomnia and almost complete numbness to the joys in life. “During the day I’d drag myself up and go to work, then just stare with glazed eyes at my computer screen, willing the hours to tick by so I could drive home again.,” Middleton wrote. “Debilitating inertia gripped me. I couldn’t respond to the simplest message so I didn’t open my emails. I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends.”
Although Middleton continues to struggle with depression, he says therapy and talking to friends and family helped him see the light beyond the dark forest. Plus he says his dogs, Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu, and Mabel have been important in his recovery. Even though Middleton doesn’t refer to his dogs as “therapy dogs,” canine companions play an instrumental mental health role.
Dogs keep you social
Middleton wrote that he and one of his dogs do volunteer work now. “Ella and I now volunteer with the Pets As Therapy charity and Ella is a fully-fledged therapy dog for PAT.”
Just getting out and connecting with others can help to alleviate depressive symptoms, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Even going to the dog park or talking to other dog lovers face to face can give you a break from a depressive episode.
You also get more exercise
Dogs need to be played with and walked. They also crave a consistent schedule too. Maintaining a routine can help to reduce stress, improve sleep and improve general health, according to Northwestern Medicine. Also, exercise releases endorphins, which can improve your overall mood. So running, walking and playing with your pup on a regular basis can help both you and your canine companion.
Dog owners may also have lower blood pressure, according to Everyday Health. While getting regular exercise can help, simply petting a dog may lower your blood pressure.
Your self worth increases
One reason dogs are a man (and woman’s) best friend is because they love unconditionally, according to Everyday Health. They don’t judge and forgive easily too. Dogs also have an uncanny ability to pull you out of a sour mood with a snuggle or a lick.
Owning a dog also boosts your self worth because it demonstrates that you can nurture and care for someone or something other than yourself, NAMI reports. Middleton’s Instagram is evidence that dogs are his everything too. He regularly posts about his pups and pups he encounters along the way.
Most recently Middleton proudly posted about Ella’s new accomplishment. “Proud of Ella becoming a PAT dog this year. Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure. Advocates of animal-assisted therapy say that developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilise their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialisation skills. I am a huge believer in this & Ella has done so much for me and we look forward to sharing the love, Timmy tickles and many visits in 2019.”
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