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Natural Ways to Fight Depression

Hug a Dog

Hug a Dog

The unconditional love of a furry, four-legged animal can be just what the doctor ordered for depression sufferers. Not only do they provide companionship, but decades worth of studies have shown that petting a cat or dog can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals in your brain that improve your mood. And if you feel calmer after petting your furry friend, it's because doing so also lowers blood pressure. Even if pet ownership isn't for you, you can benefit by visiting a local shelter or rescue where dogs, cats and even rabbits welcome volunteers.

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie. Published February 21, 2012. Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie is a health and fitness writer in Syracuse, NY and author of the newly-released book Tone Every Inch (Rodale, 2012).
Reviewed by Joe Sclafani, MD on April 13, 2015.