A Cure for Depression — Dolphins

An interesting new study in the British Medical Journal shows depression lifted for patients who interacted with dolphins an hour a day over a two week period. Many patients have experienced lasting effects after their sessions with the dolphins. The theory is that playing and swimming with dolphins ignites emotions and releases brain chemicals to make people feel good.

For those of us who don't live near dolphins, the same feeling of happiness may be felt a little closer to home. Studies have long shown people feel happier simply by petting a dog or a cat. Dogs in particular seem to have a the effect. Serotonin, the hormone in the brain that makes us feel good, rises significantly after playing with a dog, even the dog is someone else's pet.

Studies were done with robotic dogs and live dogs, and it appears there is no substitute for the real thing. Studies showed that the effects of petting a robotic dog actually caused serotonin levels to fall.

I know from personal experience, that if I feel depressed or am having a bad day, my dog can lift my mood.  Sometimes, just playing a game of ball or going for a walk will get my mind off of something that is causing me a bad day.  My dog loves me even if I'm grouchy or look bad.  And maybe that's all that is needed:  unconditional love.

The articles are unclear if petting a dog has the same long term effects as swimming with dolphins, and hopefully, future studies will make comparisons.

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