Over 40 million people in the United States have anxiety disorders, but only about 37% of those manage their social anxiety through treatment.
By Guest Blogger, Maria Miguel
There are over 40 million people in the United States with anxiety disorders. Although they can be easily treated, only about 37% of those get treatment. Sometimes this is because they do not know they need it, are afraid or embarrassed, or cannot afford it. But there has to be a reason that more than 80 million people have dogs. Could it be that they unconsciously figured out that canines are amazingly helpful with all types of mental health issues?
Petting Your Pooch
Petting a dog can increase your serotonin and oxytocin levels. Those are the hormones your body produces that make you feel good. Studies have shown that just looking at a dog can reduce your anxiety levels. Although it is still not known precisely how it works and how long it lasts, studies have proven that it works.
Here are a few ideas on why your dog may be beneficial for helping with social anxiety:
First of all, your dog loves you unconditionally no matter who you are, what you look like, and how you feel. Knowing that you have that unconditional love gives you the warm and fuzzy feeling we all crave. It makes you feel more secure and happier with yourself, boosting your self-esteem levels up a few notches as well. Taking care of your dog also gives you a feeling of being needed, and knowing that you are doing a good job taking care of your furry friend boosts your mood even further.
Socially, your dog can be a great ice breaker. You have probably seen movies where the man uses a cute puppy to attract someone at the dog park—well, just having something in common with other dog lovers gives you and that person something to talk about. Part of social anxiety disorder is not knowing how to speak to others, and your dog can help you get over that. They have no idea that you are self-conscious or shy. They will burst right into someone else’s space unannounced, whether you like it or not, giving you a reason to go and collect your puppy, apologizing for their impulsiveness.
Taking your pup for a walk gets you out and about, whereas you may not be going out at all if you did not have a dog to take out. Social anxiety tends to keep you indoors and away from others but having to take your pup outside for a walk, to the dog park, to the veterinarian, etc., gives you reasons for getting out and about and talking to people. Whether you want to or not. And walking your dog is right for you physically. It lowers your blood pressure, decreases blood sugar, and helps prevent heart disease.
Talking to Someone
Let’s face it; sometimes, you would instead not do anything. Maybe you would rather stay in bed all day and not bother with anything else. However, when you own a dog, that will not work. Your canine kid has to go outside at least once a day, and it is best if you take them for a walk or to the park to socialize every day. So, in the long run, just owning a dog will help you get over your social anxiety. However, if you are still having issues with a social anxiety disorder or any other mental health condition, contact BetterHelp or another mental health care provider for treatment.
About the Author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering various health-related topics. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she specifically targets subjects related to anxiety and depression. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.