Sunday, 14 June 2020

The Black Dog

One of the best ways to combat the Black Dog is to actually get yourself a black dog (or, in fact, a dog of any colour). Having an actual dog around can be extremely good for your well-being - whether you are depressed or not.

Photo by Beth Self

Here is a list of the advantages of having a  dog if you're depressed:
  • stroking dogs can lower your blood pressure and heart rate
  • being around dogs can release dopamine and serotonin in your brain
  • they provide company when you're alone
  • they give you a reason to go out and exercise 
  • they allow you to interact with other dog owners who are always keen to talk
  • if you're agoraphobic - they can help to get you out of the house
  • feeding them is a good feel-good/caring activity
  • having them in the bedroom or on the bed at night may help you to sleep
  • they do funny things which can make you laugh
  • they are non-judgemental
  • they can boost your low self-esteem
Here is another picture of our dog - this time at the beach at Happisburgh:

While I'm on the subject of black dogs - there is a fabulous illustrated book by Matthew Johnstone called I Had a Black Dog - His Name was Depression.

If I had to recommend one book about depression above all others then this would be the one. Pictures can be so much more effective than words in capturing the essence of depression - and they even inject some much-needed humour into proceedings. This book helps to explain with words and pictures what depression feels like. It's also a great book to give to friends and relatives to help them to understand what you're going through. You may have noticed that I have used some of Matthew's illustrtaions on this blog. That is because I think they are magnificent. Of the book, Stephen Fry said: 'I Had a Black Dog says with wit, insight, economy and complete understanding what other books take 300 pages to say. Brilliant and indispensable.'

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