Dogs and Depression

New program uses dogs to help relieve depression.

Posted: June 14, 2007, 5 a.m. EDT

As part of her commitment to helping people with depression, Emmy Award-winning actress Linda Dano, best-known for her role as Felicia Gallant on the daytime soap “Another World,” is leading a new program that offers practical tips to battle the debilitating illness by incorporating dogs into the recovery process.

The program, called Support Partners: Canine Companions, is based on research that shows that enlisting the help of dogs may have positive effects on overall health and well-being.

“Depression is an illness often associated with strong social stigma, causing people to withdraw from their lives, intensifying the emotional symptoms of the illness, like sadness and feelings of worthlessness,” says Dr. Rakesh Jain, director of psychiatric drug research at the Clinical Research Center in Texas. “While a doctor, family and friends should form the basis of any support network, dogs can play an important role by being a constant companion. They can help reduce these emotional symptoms, while possibly helping other symptoms, like fatigue or lack of energy, with daily walks.”

Dano, the spokesperson for the campaign, knows firsthand how dogs can help relieve depression.

“As someone who has always been a dog owner, my Lhasa Apsos, Mo and Charlie, became more important to me than ever when I was diagnosed with depression,” Dano says. “I started getting help from my physician and support from my friends, and soon realized that my dogs also gave me a sense of comfort, purpose and companionship. Many days when all I wanted was to stay in bed, alone, I knew I had to get up to take care of Mo and Charlie and comfort them as they comforted me.”

Support Partners: Canine Companions offers a guidebook that provides information about the benefits of dogs, the different levels of support a dog can offer someone with depression, and easy ways pet owners can work with their dogs to include them in their support network. Copies of the guidebook and more information can be obtained by visiting


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