US Veterans suffering from PTSD benefit from Canine Therapy

Learn how I beat Depression

We’ve all heard that keeping a pet can be good for your health and that caring for an animal can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health but it’s not just physical health that can benefit, it can be good for mental health too.

Now the US army are increasing the use of animal therapy, particularly dogs, in a new approach to treat soldiers recovering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) says the Army Surgeon General’s special assistant for mental health, Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie MD

Dr Ritchie spoke about the programme at the 2010 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Convention Symposium titled “Veterans and Military Mental Health”.

An earlier report by NAMI titled “Depression: Gaps and Guideposts” stated that 20 percent of people who have experienced depression have used animal therapy as part of their treatment and more than half of these (54 percent) found it extremely or quite a bit useful in aiding their recovery.

Chris Goehner, a 25 year old Iraq war veteran recently told the New York Times that after he got his dog he was able to cut his dose of anxiety pills as well as other medication for PTSD by half. His night terrors and suicidal thoughts stopped too.

Another Iraq Veteran, 29 year old Aaron Ellis said he was able to scrap his medication altogether not long after he got his dog adding that he was able to visit a supermarket for the first time in 3 years.

However, these dogs were not just ordinary dogs, they were specially trained psychiatric service dogs trained to help the veterans after they return from war torn areas to recover from the horror and atrocities they experienced on their tour of duty.

These two are not the only ones to benefit from the canine therapy; many others have too, so much so that the federal government is prepared to spend millions of dollars studying whether the scientific research backs up these individual stories.

The New York Times article reported that the veterans rely on their dogs to gauge the safety of their surroundings without having to be on alert for snipers, bombs and other hidden dangers.

In the past it was quite common for a dog to be given to a soldier who had perhaps lost his sight but only recently has giving a dog to a soldier suffering from emotional trauma been considered.

Learn how I beat Depression


  1. Tim
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Hi Karl!

    I am creating an ebook about depression to help all of those out there. I was wondering if you would like to answer a couple of questions for me that I can use in the ebook. I will, of course, include a description and link to your blog (you even get to write the description!). Let me know if you are interested.


  2. admin
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    sure , fire away

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