Dogs May Help Soothe Vets With PTSD

Dogs May Help Soothe Vets With PTSD

Service dogs may help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in military veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study finds.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

For the study, researchers compared a group of veterans with PTSD who had a service dog to a group of veterans on the waitlist to receive one.

"Our previous research suggests that the presence of a service dog reduced clinical PTSD symptoms and improved quality of life," said study co-leader Maggie O'Haire. She is an assistant professor of human-animal interaction at Purdue University's College of Veterinary Medicine, in West Lafayette, Ind.

"In this study, we wanted to determine if those beneficial effects also included changes in the physiology of stress," O'Haire said in a university news release.

The researchers focused on cortisol, a biomarker involved in the stress response system, and one that is detected through saliva.

According to study co-leader Kerri Rodriguez, "military veterans with a service dog in the home produced more cortisol in the mornings than those on the waitlist."

Rodriguez explained that "this pattern is closer to the cortisol profile expected in healthy adults without PTSD."

In addition, "having a service dog was also associated with less anger, less anxiety and better sleep," she noted. Rodriguez is a human-animal interaction graduate student.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

The findings are the first of their kind and offer insight into how service dogs may provide mental health benefits to veterans with PTSD, according to the study authors.

The researchers are now conducting a large-scale, long-term U.S. National Institutes of Health clinical trial comparing veterans with service dogs to those without.

The report was published June 12 in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on PTSD.


Related Content

The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think

Across the Western world today, if you are depressed or anxious and you go to yo...

Read more
MDMA For PTSD Looks Promising But How Will Those Who Need It Access It?
MDMA For PTSD Looks Promising But How Will Those Who Need It Access It?

By the 1970s, the cultural zeitgeist around LSD was such that, despite nearly th...

Read more
Understanding the Anxious Self: An Original Series on Anxiety Disorder
Understanding the Anxious Self: An Original Series on Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder affects 40 million adults in the U.S., making it the most commo...

Read more
Understanding the Anxious Self - Official Trailer
Understanding the Anxious Self - Official Trailer

Access all 7 episodes of our first video series instantly on Oct 15....

Read more
Dr. Klass Tells Us How To Help A Child With An Anxiety Disorder
Dr. Klass Tells Us How To Help A Child With An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders, the most common mental health problems in children and adoles...

Read more
Can I Get PTSD By Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?
Can I Get PTSD By Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship?

Narcissists and sociopaths leave their targets feeling completely worthless. Thi...

Read more