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Vol 11, No 3 (2014)
Review paper
Published online: 2014-12-07

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The use of animal therapy in psychiatric practice

Katarzyna Girczys-Połedniok, Robert Pudlo, Agnieszka Szymlak, Natalia Pasierb
Psychiatria 2014;11(3):171-176.

Abstract

The origins of animal therapy dates back to the previous century. Thanks to its features, animals in the course of affective, recreational, psychosomatic, physical, associated mechanism, and psychological stimulation, influence improvement of mental state, cognitive functions, physical condition, as well as patients’ social behavior. In affective disorders, animal therapy reduces anxiety and improves mood, in schizophrenia it reduces negative symptoms, enhances emotional response and decreases anxiety. In elderly patients, as a result of interaction with animals, irritability reduction, better group functioning, improved care about satisfying ones needs, as well as reduction of affective symptoms, anxiety and improvement of cognitive functions, was obtained. Pet therapy has positive impact on somatic health- it lowers blood pressure and pulse rate, augments lipid profile, and decreases glucocorticoids blood level. As a result of intercourse with animals, the quality of life improves. Numerous evidence on animal therapy effectiveness, and simultaneously little research on animals influence on human, should induce topic exploration, while pet therapy could be an valuable instrument in psychiatric patients treatment.