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Of all kinds of animals, dogs always rank the first to be the best furry friends of humans. Aside from the fact that dogs walk on four legs, they are really pleasant companions with empathetic hearts. Dogs have a keen sense of smell, which enables them to sensitively perceive humans’ emotions. Based on their own evaluation, dogs react to depression and anxiety of their owners excellently. 

Dogs are good listeners

With the advent of modern technology, people are drawn into the whirlpool of work and study, leading to the increasing number of people facing mental disorders. Most people are trapped in different schools of thought and gloomy emotions without being able to find anyone who is reliable enough to let go of their stress.  

Dogs-are-great-listeners

Fortunately, your loving dogs can be true friends as dogs react to depression without any judgments. They never give you any unsolicited advice, but stand by you and listen to you. 

Can dogs sense depression and anxiety?

The answer researched by Depression Open Talks is absolutely yes. In fact, dogs also have five physical abilities including see, hear, smell, taste, and feel like human beings, and of course, they use them to figure out whether our moods are up or down.

According to Simply Psychology, there is a neurotransmitter called serotonin which plays a variety of roles in regulating mood, appetite, emotions and digestion. Serotonin is also considered as a happy chemical for its contributions to well-being and happiness. If serotonin level in the human body is low, some mental disorders are associated such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sadness. 

Dogs’ sensitive noses give them a special ability to feel whether the serotonin level in their owners is low or high from a far distance. Therefore, even though they just sit in a corner of your room, dogs still observe well and know that you are in bad days if serotonin released from your body is too little. 

In 2016, a team of animal behavior experts and psychologists at the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil has conducted a study on 17 domestic dogs and findings are as follow: 

Dogs spent a significantly longer time looking at the facial expressions that matched the emotional state of the audio clip for both human and canine subjects. This showed that dogs could match two different sources of sensory information and come up with one coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs

Moreover, experts also confirmed that these abilities of dogs have not been involved in any training course before, proving that dogs have an innate ability to read our various energies and it is natural that dogs react to depression as owners are the centre of their lives. 

How do dogs react to depression and anxiety? 

Interestingly, dogs react to depression and anxiety by adjusting their behaviors and activities according to owners’ feelings. They quietly observe you and put all your emotions in their eyes. When the right time comes, they slowly approach you, sit by your side and wait for your notice.

Despite not being able to speak the same language as humans, furry friends make use of body language to draw the attention of their owners and gently express that they are there for you, trying to cuddle or console you. 

 Licking-is-a-sign-of-cuddling-your-sadness

Furthermore, dogs are so sensitive that they know you are worried or nervous based on your facial expressions and our sweat. In this aspect, dogs are really better confidants than other people.

Usually, when you are sad and drown in anxiety, dogs are likely to avoid making a mess in your room, which can be understood as a way to reduce stress for their owners. They would behave more obedient  than other days and try to get you involved in some small games with them. 

Some reviews from dog owners

Below are some interesting stories that Depression Open Talk have picked up from Quora.com, which reveals how dogs react to depression and anxiety sufferred by their owners.

Recently when I was playing with my laptop in bed, my dog was on his bed on the floor beside me. I was watching something that was a bit of a tear jerker and I started to cry and my dog jumped up and sat beside me and started licking my cheek. Then he lay on the bed with me.

Amanda Williams

When I felt really down my dog used to come to me and lick my forehead, as if she knew where the pain was.

 Jack Ellis

My dog, Jango can sense my moods. On days that are rougher, he will follow me around the house, laying on me every chance he gets. Depression can make you believe that no one cares, but Jango is a constant reminder that at least one person cares. When I begin to cry, he licks my face. It’s great because he is distracting me from my pain.

Sam

I recently got a shar-pei puppy who I thought was as dumb as a rock. I have been depressed and crying. When I cry this puppy comes out of nowhere and stares at me, then steps up on my leg to lick my face and stands by me.

Kirby Bfree

In All, Depression Open Talks have digged deeply into both scientific and social aspects to provide strong evidence that dogs can sense human emotions and are great, warm-hearted friends of humans. To see more posts about pet depression, you can click on How to deal with depressed cats. Happy to help you get insight in mental health issues.

References

A. (2022, May 31). Can Dogs Sense Depression? Mental Health Program at Banyan Treatment Centers. https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2022/05/23/can-dogs-sense-depression/#:%7E:text=Based%20on%20this%20study,%20not,dogs%20is%20natural%20or%20intrinsic

Guy-Evans, O. (2021, June 14). What is serotonin. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/what-is-serotonin.html

Would getting a pet dog help me with my depression? (2022). Quora. https://www.quora.com/Would-getting-a-pet-dog-help-me-with-my-depression

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