Study: Pets May Be Part Of The Solution To Fight Against Major Depressive Disorder


Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

We all love our furry friends. They put smiles on our faces with their wake-up kisses, and their cuddles are just what we need after a long day at work.

But a recent study has found that dogs and cats can do even more than we previously thought for their human best friends. For people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, pets may even make a difference in their prospects for remission.

“Treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TR-MDD) is a severe disease, with very low remission rates,” according to the study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. When researchers asked 80 patients to adopt pets, 33 of them chose to do so, and the results were a major breakthrough.

When the new pet owners were compared to a control group of patients who refused to adopt pets, they had higher remission and response rates and tested better on scales meant to rate depression symptoms.

Of course, a dog or cat isn’t medicine, and all of the patients in the study continued to use their usual pharmacotherapy, according to the authors.  But the results do seem to indicate that pets can help some people who are suffering from mental illness, and patients for TR-MDD should be encouraged to adopt a pet if they are open to it.

Sometimes, heroes look like a man or a woman in a cape flying through the sky on the big screen. But other times, they’re a fluffy puppy who makes life that much better just with his presence.

As scientists continue to explore what emotional support and therapy animals can do for mental health, it’s exciting to see that some people are getting the help they need from a new friend.

Read all about Toby my Psychiatric MindDog who is a Therapy dog. He is my constant company and helps me enornmoulsy with my Complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. I would be lost without him. The whole family would.

If you need support join our Private and Closed online Facebook Group for Child Abuse Survivors and those with CPTSD. Click here to join.


  1. Nice post Erin. For me, it highlights some things that have been rapidly disappearing from our culture that I believe is a major contributor to the creation of mental distress/ vulnerability/ illnss: the meaning that comes from loving kindness towards and from someone/ something. The meaning that comes from taking care of a living being and being loved in return in an open way. Pets provide us with this I think. In the past our families and communities supported (to some degree) the opportunities to form such humane bonds face to face with our neighbours and especially when older people were respected and we would turn to them for support and advice. But our culture has become fragmented and pre-occupied with individual distractions rather than shared ones and a pre-occupation with our own pleasures.

    My mood is improved by a daily routine of doing something to help the wildlife in our garden, for example: feeding the birds, squirrels, hedgehogs and (don’t laugh) but even rescuing bees that we find exhausted on the ground. A little sugar water on the end of a finger and they’re back to life and flying around again! Trying to provide help to people in pain is also very meaningful for the helper as well as the sufferer and very often we expect the authorities or a professional to do that for us because our social culture has – in my opinion – declined in this regard.

    It would be good to know what you think as a sociologist.

    • HI Stephen, I agree with you. It does people an enormous amount of benefit to have someone to look after, be that a pet or person. The example you give of your daily routine to help the wildlife in your garden is wonderful and would be of wonderful help to mental health both physically and mentally. I agree with you that these days we are divulging a lot of responsibility for the care of loved ones to the authorities and our society is suffering as a consequence. We no longer care for elderly as we did in the past so younger generations are alienated from the elderly. Often families turn to the authorities for help too quickly with difficult teenagers giving those teenagers the wrong message about he meaning of the family unit and what it means. The fabric of society is under threat now more than ever. Children are placed in childcare at younger and younger ages as both parents go back to work earlier and earlier and work ever longer hours therefore outsourcing parenthood. In the primary school years it is now not uncommon for children to go to Before school care at 7.00 am and have breakfast there rather than at home so parents can go to work and then go the After school care and not get picked up until 6.30pm and the cyle continues. Homework is not done at home. In the High School years teenagers let themselves into an empty house and do not see their parents until 6.30/7.00pm as both parents work. It is real and increasing problem. From a sociological standpoint it is disastrous and many studies are saying it is reaching crisis point but Governments are ignoring the evidence.

      We have teenagers suffering from rates of anxiety and depression in unprecendented levels. The reasons are obvious but Governments choose to ignore the facts. It is very sad. The Millenial generation are choosing to have children at a later and later age are not all as their careers take precedence. This too is of concern. Those that do go back to work immediately. It’s a real problem. Regards Erin

      • Very insightful Erin. I despair at the way it’s all going and I don’t see psychotherapy as a solution – it’s a symptom of the cultural problems we have at a grassroots and government level.

        You may be familiar with the work of John Taylor Gatto and Charlotte Iserbyt (spelling?). They are wonderfully insightful into the effects of the education system on our kids (including our generation actually). Well worth a look.

        All the best for now

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.