Can Owning A Dog End Your Loneliness And Depression?

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Loneliness is a disease that can eat at you and make you regret every decision you’ve made in your life. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people suffering from severe loneliness have a 10% chance of dying early as compared to actively social people. This begs the question; can dogs alleviate the effects of loneliness and improve the individual’s quality of life?

The Study

To retrieve this data, scientists carried out the PAWS trial on 71 adults in Australia. The participants were separated into three major groups.

  • individuals who had purchased a dog one month into the study
  • individuals who had plans of purchasing a dog, but agreed not to for the case of the study
  • individuals who expressed no interest in purchasing a dog

During the study, participants answered questionnaires and handled surveys that focused on any symptoms related to psychological distress, mood change, and loneliness.

Results of The Study

The final results of the study showed that recent dog owners experienced less loneliness as compared to the participants from the other two groups.

Interestingly, participants demonstrated tremendous mood changes within the first three months of the study. However, the other two groups did not experience a further increase in loneliness after three to eight months of the study.

Participants who also had dogs had relatively fewer negative emotions like anxiety and nervousness in the first three months of living with their dog.

Hypothesis of The Study

There are quite a number of reasons why dogs can alleviate feelings of loneliness and stress among owners.

One plausible reason is that cuddling your dog daily can improve your moods in the long-term, which ultimately minimizes stress and loneliness.

Secondly, when owners walk their dogs, they are more likely to meet and talk to new people and thus, be more social in the neighborhood.

Another study also found that dog owners experienced lesser symptoms of psychological stress after they brought a new dog to their home.

Nevertheless, these studies cannot really determine whether a dog has a positive or negative effect on the mental well-being of an individual. Additionally, the study was only carried out on women, so there’s no telling how men will react when put to the test.

With this in mind, scientists hope to carry out the experiment on a much larger group to record conclusive findings. They hope to find detailed information on other niches such as anxiety and mental disorders.