CAN ANIMAL THERAPY ACTUALLY HELP PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in PTSD, THERAPY | Comments Off on CAN ANIMAL THERAPY ACTUALLY HELP PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD?

CAN ANIMAL THERAPY ACTUALLY HELP PEOPLE WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD?

As we all know, animals have been used by humans for different purposes, and we should be feeling grateful for the service they provide. From helping the blind and handicapped to rescuing people from natural disasters – animals are there for us. In recent years, a new area where humans need assistance has appeared, and that field is called emotional therapy. Emotional support animals help patients to alleviate and heal the symptoms of their health conditions and mental state, and this method has already given some remarkable results. However, when it comes to the treatment of PTSD, opinions are still divided and there are experts who claim that the effects are temporary and insignificant.

Animal Assisted Therapy (ADA) is a program that uses animals, predominantly dogs, to help people who have developed a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This health condition usually appears as a direct consequence of being involved in some kind military action and direct confrontations in the war zones, but many other factors and events can trigger the development of PTSD.

For example, people who have been involved in a car crash, or who were victims of rape or violence, or even people who survived a horrific natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a tsunami. Dogs are mostly used as emotional support animals in healing PTSD, but horses, cats, birds, or even dolphins, have been used in some cases, with very positive results, too.

Why exactly are dogs so helpful in these cases? First of all, they are vigilant and protective, which is a characteristic that perfectly suits the needs of these patients. Since people who have gone trough traumatic events often have flashbacks and nightmares, having a reliable and trusted animal by their side at night can be very helpful.

Also, neurohormone oxytocin is released when we interact with our pets, and this hormone is the one responsible for our mood, thoughts, and overall mental state. Additionally, for people have served in the army and have been disciplined by strict rules of conduct, dogs are helpful since they accept authority and actually love when they are given commands and orders.

In the end, they also love unconditionally, and this is perhaps the most important characteristic. Love heals everything, and with the help of our furry four-legged friends – our lives can get back to normal, even if we have gone through horrible trauma and stressful events.


Counseling, medication, and different types of groups and associations have been used as methods to try and heal PTSD, but a lot of these methods were practically ineffective and useless. The progress was slow and often disappointing, causing additional frustration and anxiety for patients who were already having problems coping with everyday life. However, some studies show that cuddling with pets can drastically reduce stress levels and lower blood pressure. In certain cases, this caused 82% reduction of PTSD symptoms, which is a clear indicator of how beneficial are emotional support animals and how our lives can be once again saved by our animal friends.

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