The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research has announced that it will be partnering with Veteran Affairs to research the role of psychiatric service dogs in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is not that the institutions seek to disprove the helpfulness of these furry companions, but rather shed light and on their role in treatment, so that these service dogs can get the respect and funding that they deserve for all the good that they do.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event. Symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways, from bouts of insomnia to violent hallucination. Although Veterans Services is funding the research for the use of service dogs for soldiers with PTSD, this disorder is not just limited men and women in uniform. Anyone can develop PTSD after a traumatic incident, including those subject to physical or sexual abuse, serious accidents or natural disasters. Service dogs are there to help all of these people.
It is no secret that petting a dog or snuggling up to them is good for your mental health. Holding a living creature that, by nature, loves their owner unconditionally, is one of the best feelings in the world. The response to a dog is not just mental – it’s physical too. Studies on the effect canines can have on people have found that dogs adjust serotonin levels, lower blood pressure, aid in treating depression and have a calming effect on their owner.
However, there is no point in just giving a puppy to someone with PSTD and expecting it to fix them. Service dogs are specially trained to deal with PTSD patients who have been through a trauma. Service dog training includes being able to provide calming assistance during a medical crisis, assist with treatment-related activities, helping owners cope with an emotional overload, and perform security enhancing task for their owners. The dogs are essentially trained to help mitigate the owner’s physical or mental disability.