4 Benefits of a Support Dog for PTSD

4 Benefits of a Support Dog for PTSD

Overcoming trauma is never a simple task. The process often takes years, and while medication and therapy can help, there simply are no guarantees when it comes to mental health.

That’s especially true for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People who have faced abuse or trauma in the past need a safe, comfortable environment in order to recover and a support dog can be an important part of that healing process. A support animal provides a calming presence that alleviates many of the worst symptoms of PTSD, and though it is not a cure, having a faithful companion can make it easier to navigate the road to recovery.

Here are some of the other reasons to consider a support dog if you or someone you know is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

The Science of Happiness

It sounds obvious, but people tend to be happier when dogs are around. The presence of a dog can boost oxytocin and dopamine while simultaneously reducing cortisol, which is associated with stress.

The benefits are even more pronounced for people with PTSD. The link between support dogs and cortisol levels in PTSD patients is still being studied. However, the preliminary research suggests that PTSD patients with support dogs are generally happier and healthier than those without, even exhibiting lower rates of anxiety, anger, and alcohol abuse.  

A Good Night’s Sleep

Insomnia and nightmares are common symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and often exacerbate the condition. People with support dogs typically enjoy better sleep (and sleep longer hours) than those without pets, calming the mind and mitigating the impact of the negative memories and emotions associated with trauma.

That builds a strong foundation for recovery. Having a companion nearby makes you feel more secure throughout the night. That, in turn, makes you more self-sufficient when you wake up to face the challenges of the day!

A Faithful Companion

It can be difficult for abuse victims to build trusting relationships after being hurt, especially if the perpetrator was someone who was close to them. That can be a major obstacle for PTSD patients. No matter how independent a person might be, at some point everyone needs help when sorting through trauma. Accepting that help can be difficult if the people you trusted have hurt you in the past.

That’s why a support dog can be such a positive influence. An animal will never pass judgment, and experiencing that kind of unconditional love can make it easier to open up to human friends and family members and form healthier relationships with the world at large.

Taking Control of Your Life

PTSD can make it feel like you’re not in control. A support animal can restore the balance. You need to be able to communicate in a calm, level-headed manner in order to take care of a dog, and that can translate to other parts of your life, where a dog is a stabilizing influence that allows you to think rationally and creates better responses to stress.

Taken together, the benefits of dog ownership can help you work through the anger and the fear that often go along with PTSD. A support dog can make it feel like things are getting back to normal, and that’s a vital step for anyone hoping to overcome the past.

 

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