Whether you're stressed, depressed, or struggling with extreme anxiety, having a pet might help in more ways than one. Pets are surprisingly good for people who struggle with mental health illnesses, and this guide will explore how they might be helpful to you.

Mental Health Illness Having a mental health illness can affect your life and the way you respond to those around you. At its worst, you might find yourself withdrawing from society entirely, which can make you lonely and feel even worse. While humans are sometimes too difficult to be around when you're depressed or anxious, pets don't judge you or have expectations of you, so you can feel more at ease around them.

Physical Activity You've undoubtedly heard that exercise is useful for people who are struggling with depression, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to get started. Sometimes just moving is hard when you're feeling depressed, but a pet can be useful in this way. Pets are fun, charming, and eager to be physically active. Taking a dog on a regular walk or waving a toy around for a cat may not sound like much in the way of activity, but it's something to get you started on a path to feeling better and getting physical activity as part of your daily routine.

Anxiety Care You may have noticed that blind people often use dogs to help them to navigate dangerous terrain, but pets are now being used for anxiety relief, too. These support animals are often allowed into businesses and restaurants and are trained to help their owners feel more at ease while around strangers. Simply having a friendly animal in your presence that you can pet and touch while you're anxious can help you to feel calmer and more secure.

Purring and Stress Cats' purrs have been found to speed up the healing process and lower blood pressure, but they're also good for reducing stress. If you're experiencing constant anxiety, petting a cat and having them purr in response can be very good at reducing your anxiety. As an added bonus, their purrs can also help to reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 40%.

Creating Routine Sometimes one of the most difficult things about having a mental illness is willing yourself to get up everyday. Pets can be helpful in this regard because they rely upon you to take care of them. While this may sound scary at first, sometimes the knowledge that another creature needs you to care for them can make you get up when nothing else can.

Depression can often make you feel down on yourself, and anxiety can make you feel as though you can't face the world. But if your pet is nuzzling you, pawing at you, or otherwise asking for food or to be taken outside to do their business, it's often easier to get up. Even if you can't summon up the motivation to get yourself up, your pet can help to give you a gentle nudge from the outside. Over time, you'll build up a routine of caring for your pet, which may help to make it easier to take care of yourself, too.

For more information about mental health treatment, contact Dr. Stephen Brown & Associates or a similar organization.