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Animal-Assisted Intervention for People with Depression

By Felicia Trembath

Category Reports

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, lack of interest in activities, and fatigue. Most people will feel sad or depressed at times, but when these feelings last for weeks and interfere with normal daily activities, it may be a more serious condition requiring treatment. Depression is pervasive in the United States; as many as 21% of women and 12% of men will experience a depressive episode at some point in their life (Depression, 2014).
Many anecdotes relate the use of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) in treating depression, but few studies which use scientific methodology to evaluate treatment effects have been published. Consequently, the efficacy and role of AAI as an adjunct therapy for people with depression is neither well understood nor appreciated. This brief addresses the gap by first summarizing the current knowledge on depression, including what depression is, who gets depression, what causes depression, and treatment options. Second, the role of AAI in treating people with depression is discussed. Finally, recommendations are made for future research, and key resources are identified.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date March 2016
Series Title HABRI Central Briefs
Pages 6
Language English
Institution Purdue University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal roles
  4. Depression
  5. HABRI Central Briefs
  6. Health