Pets and their people-together safe at home with COVID-19

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

While sheltering at home during this COVID-19 outbreak, many people are spending more time than usual with their pets. If you spend much time on social media you’ve seen the memes of pets who miss the privacy they usually enjoy when people are away.

But for some people, especially those who live alone, pets may provide much needed companionship and relief of stress and anxiety during this unsettling time.

To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus (coronavirus) to people.

CDC

When animals are more than pets

Dogs have been used to help visually impaired persons for hundreds of years, but now they and other animals assist people with other types of disabilities, as well as provide companionship and comfort.

Besides “guide dogs” who assist blind persons, other categories of animal helpers include

emotional support animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals.

cat lying on the ground next to green shrubs

service animals

A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Psychiatrist Dr. Vania Manipod, blogger at freud and fashion  explains how these terms apply to psychiatric illnesses in her blog post here-

Therapy Pet-Friendly Guide

In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.

CDC
woman on a horse
a rare experience for me-riding a horse

The Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, “requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle.”

Other countries may have different laws so if you plan to travel abroad with your animal assistant, you should check the laws for your destination prior to arrival to avoid any problems with your animal’s entry or departure.

Remember that animal assistants are not just pets, they are working; so we should not distract them or interfere with their duties when we encounter them, as this report warns.

Guide dog handlers are urging the public to resist the temptation to pat the working animals regardless of how cute they are.

The Veteran’s Health Administration uses horses to help veterans deal with PTSD.

I know from my own experience with rescued Arabians, who as a breed have a reputation of being easily excited, that they help me be calm and unhurried around them. It is almost as if they provide me with biofeedback and reflect back to me what my own degree of tension might be.

Dr. Hans Duvefelt

Read more at his blog “A Country Doctor Writes”

If Nothing Else Works, Try a Horse

And for some veterans, “living with wolves” saves their lives.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have been no reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.

CDC

For more information about pets and COVID-19, talk to your pet’s veterinarian and refer to the CDC website for recommendations.

If You Have Animals

These two stayed with us while their owner was on a trip. We thought we were taking care of them, but we received just as much as we gave.

And a resource from the American Medical Veterinary Association

SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets

exploring the HEART of health with pets

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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How to relieve depression in 11 simple steps

Not everyone needs antidepressant medication, but when they do, it can make a dramatic difference. Medication needs adequate time and dosage to be effective, and once that is reached should be continued long enough for the depression to stay in remission.

When I started this blog I knew nothing about blogging so I looked for resources to help. One of the best I found was the ProBlogger Podcast by Darren Rowse- and it is free.

(This post uses several affiliate links to Darren’s website and other affiliates-these are ways for you to support this blog at no cost to you. )

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. He is active on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.

I loved listening to his Australian accent (which I rarely hear living in Oklahoma), appreciated his easy to understand instructions, and connected with his genuinely friendly attitude.

First, mid-life crisis

In 2018 Darren extended his influence through a Facebook group called Find Your Spark, which is for

people who have the common goal of finding their spark in life.

Darren Rowse


That year Darren wrote an article for Medium explaining how he was experiencing a mid-life crisis. The Facebook group started as a place for people who read Darren’s ‘sparks article’ and wanted to take part in the resulting 30-day challenge. Now anyone is invited to join the group.

Then, depression

Early in 2019, Darren shared in the group that he had been dealing with depression several months before. By that time he was doing better, and after receiving much positive feedback in the group he wrote another article for Medium explaining what had helped him manage the depression.

I appreciate the first thing he said was “I am not a doctor so I am not giving advice.” But he thought what helped him might help others, and since I am a doctor and I agree that these things are helpful, I am going to share them with you and add my thoughts on each. Of course, if you want to go straight to Darren’s article, that’s fine too. Here is the link-

11 Things That Have Helped Me With Depression

1. Talking to my Doctor

Not everyone with depression needs to see a psychiatrist; there may not even be one near where you live. Family physicians receive extensive training in depressed mood, as well as the physical problems that can precipitate or result from depression, like sleep problems, weight gain or loss, chronic pain, and fatigue.

2. Medication

Not everyone needs antidepressant medication, but when they do, it can make a dramatic difference. Medication needs adequate time and dosage to be effective, and once that is reached should be continued long enough for the depression to stay in remission.

3. Exercise.

I routinely recommend that depressed persons exercise; actually, I recommend it to everyone. Done properly, it almost never causes a problem, and is known to improve depression, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.

Here’s a post that offers you some motivation to move more with confidence and purpose.

4. Getting a dog

Probably any type of animal contact helps lift one’s mood. I found this true myself this summer when my husband was recuperating from an ankle fracture. Since he was non-weight bearing in a cast, he was confined to home except trips to the doctor so I stayed home with him other than work. During this time, we took care of a friend’s cat while he was out of town. We had not had an animal in our home in a long time but we quickly bonded with the kitty and found her entertaining and calming. Her presence took our minds off the pain and uncertainty about my husband’s injury.

In this post I explained how animals can help people heal .

People Whisperers

5. Telling friends and family

I agree with this as long as those friends and family are supportive. I would start with those closest, who probably already realize something is wrong. You do not need people who will blame you for your depression, tell you to “just snap out of it”, or advise unsound treatments.

6.Improving my diet

Like exercise, this one is universal. Even people who aren’t depressed can benefit from eating more plant based whole foods, like the ones I discussed in this previous post.

7. Journalling

Whether you call it a diary, journal, or blog, expressing ourselves in writing can be therapeutic. Or for some people it may be another form of writing, like poetry, essays, short stories. Other forms of expression like the visual and performing arts, photography, crafting, sewing, and needlework can be soothing, calming, and satisfying.

Digital Photography School Resources : Photo Nuts and Shots

8. Reading

Obviously, you’re a reader, although you may not be doing it to treat depression. I think this can help 2 ways.

First, by reading books and other media specifically about depression to learn more about its causes and treatment.

Second, by providing an outlet for fun, humor, reflection, learning, thinking, growing- all of which can deflect depressive thoughts and attitudes.

Come Read with me-Tyndale Rewards.com
Reader Rewards Club

9. Creating new projects

Much of this I alluded to in #7, but consider taking on new work projects, community activities, and family events. People with depression often feel overwhelmed, so don’t rush this one, so as not to aggravate those feelings.

Digital Photography School Resources

10. Volunteering

Depressed people often feel isolated and lonely and may avoid other people. Volunteering can make it easier to connect-unlike social events, volunteering usually has a set agenda so you know what you’re going to do and even say. That can take the pressure off trying to make small talk and be sociable when you don’t yet feel so. Sharing with others who need our help makes our own problems seem less intense.

Your community likely offers numerous opportunities to volunteer. Also check out this list for other opportunities to get involved in helping others.

Sharing the HEART of health

11. Prayer/meditation

Sometimes it has become almost a cliche to say to someone who is hurting, “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” But I think if we say that, we should mean it. Sometimes it can be hard to pray for oneself or to ask others for prayer, it may seem selfish or weak.

But prayer is an integral part of most faith traditions that I know of; Christians are encouraged to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Thinking and meditating on scripture and other words of “faith, hope, and love” can counteract the negative thinking that usually drives depression.

You’re not alone.

Darren and I want to assure you there is hope for depression and you do not have to suffer alone. Start with your doctor and check out any other resources in your community and on-line. As Darren said at the end of his article,

if you know someone with depression who needs to read this — please pass it on.

Dealing with suicidal thoughts

Depression sometimes leads to suicidal thoughts, which may progress to plans, attempts, and loss of life. In a future post I’ll share how one well known woman faced and survived suicide. Read more now in this article by psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Welby

Suicidal thoughts and suicide prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

watercress words- exploring the HEART of mental health

In another post, learn about a woman singer and author who also confronted depression and won.

More ways to win over depression

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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