An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 16, Number 2
What has often been overlooked in our lives is the importance of pets. Anybody who has a dog, cat, fish, bird, or reptile knows how much they add to their lives. We are so worried about almost everything is today’s world that we often overlook how great our animal companions can be.
Sometimes, their care can be very demanding yet the love and affection they give in return may just be what the doctor ordered. They give a lot and ask for little in return. They add color to what can be a very personal drab world and sometimes, it seems like they can read our minds and offer comfort.
Our February e-Letter is about The Importance of Pets. Dr. Kimmel’s blog is about teachers reengaging kids during Covid can be found in the blog section of our website. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our e-Letters and for the numerous positive and compassionate comments we have received.
KimmelPsychology has provided a monthly E-Letter for over 16 years, which is educational, informative, and helpful. Topics change every month, but the format remains the same; brief information about the topic as well as suggestions for improvement. You are invited to email your thoughts to Dr. Kimmel at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com. Make sure to read the latest blog addition here.
Our country is in a huge mental health crisis that has probably never been seen before. While Covid is decreasing and will probably become an endemic, more people are reaching out for support and help during this time of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty. The stigma of seeking mental health help seems to have disappeared. In response, we have:
• added hours to our therapists’ schedules so that more patients can be seen
• posted more helpful articles on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages to support those who benefit from reading about mental health
• a psychiatrist on staff for diagnoses and medications
• a life transformation coach to assist in adjustment to life changes such as grief and loss.
• a school psychologist who works with children to support them through any learning or emotional difficulties and can provide educational evaluations.
We practice telehealth and have also returned to safe, in-office visits. We can be reached by calling our office at 954 755-2885 or by going to the Our Staff page on our website, KimmelPsychology.com.
The Importance of Pets!
(Photo by Eric Ward)
Most of us have or did have pets in our lives and are aware of the comfort and joy they bring. Yet we may be unaware of both the mental health and physical benefits we get from sharing our lives with our beloved pets. There are many studies that have documented the benefits of having a companion pet.
Living alongside us for centuries, pets have evolved and are attuned to humans. They are keenly aware of our emotions and our behaviors. Dogs and cats, as examples, understand many of our gestures, moods, tone of our voice, and even words. They can read our body language and seem to know when to cuddle.
Pets can quickly change our moods and reduce stress and depression. A hug, a jump in our laps, a nudging, and a playfulness can make us forget the struggles of the day. In fact, dogs have become so good at bonding that many are used as Emotional Support Animals. ESAs are trained to provide support through companionship and help ease loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Service dogs, on the other hand, help people with emotional and physical disabilities perform their day-to-day tasks. In many traumatic situations, dogs are brought in to support survivors or family members cope with their emotions. In other situations, dogs have been trained to deal with settings that are too risky for humans such as sniffing out explosives
Pets can be quite loyal and often give without wanting much in return. Benefits of having a pet include:
In deciding to get a pet, recognize that it is a life-time commitment and will require care and maintenance. Discuss with family members whether there is enough room for a pet and who will be responsible for feeding, cleaning, and exercising them. Also, discuss what qualities your family wants in a pet and whether there is enough living space for your animal. Remember birds, reptiles, rabbits, and fish can also be pets.
Perhaps the greatest benefit from having a pet is the unconditional love you receive no matter what happens during your day.
We offer the following information about why pets are important:
THE IMPORTANCE OF PETS
If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am…Charles Yu
WHAT TO KNOW!
- Caring for and relating with a pet can improve your mental health
- Pets have a deeply calming effect and can often sense a person’s moods
- Pets reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness by giving unconditional love and acceptance without criticism
- Pets don’t necessarily have to be dogs or cats; rabbits, snakes, fish, and birds can help to reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate
- Studies have shown that:
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations
- Playing with a pet elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine
- Pet owners are less likely to have depression
- Pet owners who have had heart attacks survive longer than those without pets
- People over 65 who have pets make 30% fewer visits to their doctors
- 15 minutes of stroking a pet will:
- release the natural “feel good” hormones: oxytocin, and prolactin
- lower cortisol which is the body’s natural stress hormone
- lower blood pressure by 10%
- For older adults, pets can replace the losses in one’s life by giving the owner a new purpose as well as providing companionship
- Pets help with loneliness by providing someone to be with and talk to when a person is alone
- Caring for pets forces a person not to isolate themselves and to be active
- Caring for pets also helps a person have a purpose as well as to feel wanted and needed
- Having to feed and care for a pet adds structure to a day leading to being more motivated and focused
- Walking a dog provides physical exercise as well as an opportunity to meet other pet owners
- Pets can also help children develop responsibility by tasking them with caring for the pets
- Certain dog breeds are ideal for providing emotional/physical support and are often called in to hospitals as well as to support victims of traumatic situations
WHAT TO DO WHEN GETTING A PET!
- Discuss with family/others the qualities wanted in a pet and i there is enough room in your living space
- Decide who will care for and maintain the pet
- Consider whether the pet fits into your lifestyle
- Remember that taking care of a pet is a lifetime commitment
- Seek professional help if you are conflicted or undecided about getting a pet
WE PRACTICE TELEHEALTH AND CAN HELP!
Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at info@KimmelPsychology.com
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067
As always, we are interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this e-Letter, email me your comments at DrKimmel@Kimmelpsychology.com and I will publish them next month.
The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.
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Copyright © 2022 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.