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Q. I have social anxiety and depression. Will I benefit from a therapy dog?

Answered by
Dr. Seikhoo Bishnoi
and medically reviewed by Dr.Lekshmipriya B
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 26, 2017 and last reviewed on: Aug 12, 2022

Hello doctor,

I am a 16 year old. I have social anxiety and depression. I find it hard to talk to people, especially in public. I also have a problem with talking about my feelings face to face, making the idea of a therapist very nerve-wrecking. I am not sure if I would talk. I would probably just be too nervous to talk to him or her.

I love animals. I love the company of them and feel safe around them. I am homeschooled, so I do not have any real-life friends. My family does not treat me the best, often blaming me for everything, insulting me and putting me on the spot in uncomfortable situations instead of getting me help. I am very lonely, but my anxiety makes it really hard to interact with people face to face, and very difficult to get a job. I have the idea to get a therapy dog. I believe it would help me in many ways, such as increase my exercise (which is a known depression-reliever), build self-confidence, offering a distraction, making me more courageous in public, enabling me to work, and much more. With that in mind, here are my questions.

  • Do you believe that, for my case, a therapy dog would be a better form of therapy than an in-real-life, face-to-face therapist? Or, at least to begin with, then I could move on to a real therapist.
  • If not better, do you think that a therapy dog is still a good idea?
  • If so, what can I say to my mom to get her to allow me to get help for my mental issues?

Thank you for your time.

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Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

A therapy dog can help in relieving anxiety. But, since your anxiety is related to social situations, I do not think that a therapy dog will relieve your social anxiety. The anxiety will go away with exposure or by systematic desensitization. You have to take the first step for that.

Talk to your parents about this and convey to them that you find it hard to interact with people and tell them directly that you have anxiety. This will be the first step towards treatment.

Once you see the doctor, with time, your anxiety will go away and your conversation skills will improve.


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