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Pet Therapy: Pets Helping Real People Cope with Depression

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  • The Soothing Power of Pets

    The Soothing Power of Pets

    People who suffer from depression often find solace in the companionship that their pets provide. The emotional problems that depression brings about can be tumultuous and trying. A furry (or feathered) friend can be just what the doctor ordered, providing a special kind of support that can be hard to describe.

    We asked those of you who deal with depression to share a picture of you and your pet, as well as a description of how they help you cope. Click through the slideshow to meet some real-life people and pets who are together in the fight against depression.

  • Ashley and Shadow

    Ashley and Shadow

    For almost 15 years, Shadow has been by my side, even through the worst of my depression. Just being in the same room with him is therapeutic; he knows when I need him close. He is there to provide unconditional love when I feel most alone. He gives me the uncomplicated companionship and loyalty I need to feel comforted. Best of all, he gives me something stress-free to look forward to every day. I cannot thank him with words, but I nurture and spoil him in return every day.

  • Debra and Gizmo

    Debra and Gizmo

    This is Gizmo Brown. She has been with me for 15 years, through thick and thin, peaks and valleys.  She knows when I am upset and comes and lays against me, and once she wiped my tears. Gizmo is my best GF.

  • Gennie and Her Kittens

    Gennie and Her Kittens

    We have three kitties, but these two always seem to know when hugs and calm rubs are needed. The grey one [belongs to] my two sons and the black one is mine. There’s a gold one too, and he’s my daughter’s. We all have special needs and different DXs, so they help us a lot.

  • Keith and His Puppy

    Keith and His Puppy

    I am not sure how my pup helps me cope with my bipolar disorder, other than by giving me her unconditional love.

  • Onilee and Tucker

    Onilee and Tucker

    This is my bunny Tucker. He's the sweetest thing. He makes me happy when I'm upset.

  • Clara and Lola

    Clara and Lola

    I have a 7-year-old Lab. She was given to me as a gift when she was a pup. She is a yellow Lab named Lola. Lola is very special. She has very strong instincts. I suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and chronic migraines. I also suffer from chronic migraines. Lola knows when I am down, or having a bad day where I can't get out of bed. She comes running if she hears me crying. When I am sick or have a migraine, she doesn't leave my side (unless it involves food). She just knows when I need her the most.

  • David and Lucy

    David and Lucy

    She has saved my life more than once. She let me know when my blood pressure was 227/115. [I got to the] ER in time.

  • Lauren and Beethoven

    Lauren and Beethoven

    My best buddy Beethoven is all I have. He is 15 years old and I truly believe he understands how I feel. He sits right by me all day… I love him so much! Even if he is deaf, has no teeth from a car accident, and slightly blind, he never complains, so he is the best!

  • Melinda and The Kraken

    Melinda and The Kraken

    This is The Kraken. He is just a little over a year old now. We also have three dogs. I have mild to moderate depression that I take one daily med for, and I do OK, but it wasn't until we had another house cat (10 years without one) that I realized what a benefit he really is to me. A furry little warm body who demands nothing but food, water, and some of your company is really very uplifting. He is not a therapy dog, and he did come from the shelter.

  • Emily and Sophia

    Emily and Sophia

    My cat Sophia has been with me almost eight years now. She helps with my depression because she comes to me when I am upset and sits by me. She will let me hug her and she'll give me kisses. She barely leaves my side. Even on my worst days she'll stay next to me. 

  • Andrea and Her Three Dogs

    Andrea and Her Three Dogs

    I have three dogs: Dixie, a nine-pound “Dorkie” (mini Dachshund/Yorkie); Macee, a 20-pound hound mix; and I also care for my daughter’s four-pound “Cockahund” (mini Dachshund and Cocker Spaniel). All three are very loving dogs and fight for my attention. They get me out of bed when I don't feel like [getting up]. That’s a lot, as I suffer from fibromyalgia too. But I know they are there and need me as much as I need them. They know when I am happy, snuggle against me when I cry, keep their distance when I'm mad, but most of all, they got my back and love me no matter what.

  • Kirsty and Whiskers

    Kirsty and Whiskers

    I have just been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorder. I breed and show rabbits—this is my top stud buck, Whiskers. He is so special to me. I love him to pieces. I have around 40 rabbits in total, including his children and grandchildren. I have won all over the country with these rabbits. They mean the world to me [and give me] a purpose to get up every day, because they need me. They also give me the hope and the feeling of success through the showing world, where I have met many friends. Without my rabbits and my special top boy, I don’t know where I would be today—I’d be lost without them. The love and the meaning they give to me I cannot put into words. All I can say is “thank God I have them.”

  • Sherry and Her Bird

    Sherry and Her Bird

    Dogs and cats are not the only animals that help with depression. My bird is my love and my life. He can cheer me up like no one else can, and kisses and loves unconditionally, and it always makes me smile.

  • Yusuf and Peter

    Yusuf and Peter

    My kitty, Peter, somehow seems to always know when I'm in a bad mood, and will come hop on my lap and cuddle with me! He's a really affectionate cat, and is always there to make me feel better. I feel like he's not going to judge me or look down on me—he's just always there for comfort!

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