Using Animal Therapy for Depression | Banyan Mental Health
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Using Animal Therapy for Depression

Using Pet Therapy for Depression

Using Animal Therapy for Depression

Animals can provide great companionship and, in some cases, be like a member of the family.
If you are an animal lover, not only can a clip of them on the internet bring a smile to your face, but also sometimes just being in the same room with them can instantly boost your mood. For someone struggling with depression, turning to animals for help may be a viable option.

The Effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy for Depression

Going to a depression treatment center often includes therapy sessions and antidepressants during treatment. This combination of psychotherapy and medication is effective for many in reducing symptoms of depression, but for those unwilling to open up, psychotherapy has its limits. An alternative may be animal therapy for depression.

Some people question the effectiveness of pet therapy for depression and other mental illnesses because it is not a traditional form of talk therapy. In reality, these programs can be incredibly effective for many people. Just petting an animal can boost someone’s mood,1 but animal-assisted programs are specially designed with helping someone’s health in mind.

One study of dog-assisted therapy on depression found that after ten weeks, it significantly reduced symptoms of depression in elderly people who were institutionalized as compared to the control group.2 Other studies have found similar effects. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of five different studies and found that animal-assisted therapy for depression was effective in reducing depressive symptoms as compared to control groups who did not partake in these programs.3

Even pet owners have claimed having an animal improves their quality of life and reduces depression.4 Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but it is clear that animal therapy for depression is effective for many people. Even if it does not help directly with depression, it may help people open up and become more receptive to talking with someone about their problems.1 Many people are resistant to psychotherapy initially, but these programs could open the gate to discussions and finally lead to progress in recovery.

Because we understand that not everyone may be comfortable immediately talking to someone about their problems, we offer pet therapy for mental health that can help people open up and heal in ways that therapy sessions with another human may not be able to provide.

At Banyan Mental Health, we help people find relief from their pain and learn to mitigate their symptoms so that they can live happier and healthier lives. Call us today at 888-280-2360 to get started.


  1. UCLA Health- Animal-Assisted Therapy Research
  2. NIH- Randomized controlled study on the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy on depression, anxiety, and illness perception in institutionalized elderly
  3. NCBI- Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression: a meta-analysis
  4. Catherine University- Effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy: Therapists’ Perspectives

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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