Numerous studies have demonstrated how service animals can help improve the lives of veterans struggling with depression and PTSD.
In one study, increases in the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine were tracked during positive human-canine interactions. This neurotransmitter is classified as a dopamine precursor and often referred to as the “love drug” because it facilitates the production of norepinephrine, which helps to boost and stabilize mood, and dopamine, which is also known for its various mood-boosting properties. When paired together, they are extremely effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A 2012 article in Smithsonian Magazine titled “How Dogs Can Help Veterans Overcome PTSD” also discussed such positive findings and noted a significant increase in the hormone oxytocin during positive human-canine interactions. Oxytocin is known for its stress relieving properties.
Additionally, a 2009 US military survey reported that a whopping 82% of individuals suffering from PTSD noted a reduction in their symptoms once paired with a service dog. Furthermore, 40% noted that their medication intake had decreased after partnership with a service dog.
There are numerous studies and personal testimonials detailing the profound impact that service dogs have had on the lives of individuals and families struggling with PTSD.
By providing companionship, loyalty and security, service dogs are able to help assuage the various emotional and psychological difficulties associated with PTSD and help individuals along their path to greater fulfillment and inner peace.