Pets or Serotonin “Increasers”

Ms.Serrano%27s+adorable+companion%2C+Apollo.

Ms.Serrano’s adorable companion, Apollo.

Guadalupe Guzman, Contributer

As we all know, the past 9 months have been filled with challenges and stressful situations. The COVID pandemic is of course the prime example of this; from quarantine to social distancing guidelines, it all made it extremely hard for people to go out and go about their daily lives. Especially when some of us are isolated at home where we all had little to no contact with our communities and stuck at home with boredom, slowly losing sanity.  But fortunately, many of us were owners of lovable (sometimes slobbery and stubborn) pets that stayed at home with us as well. As mentioned by petassure.com, “ Pets fulfill a need to confide in or talk to someone trusted, which is even more important during the COVID-19 quarantine. Loneliness and social isolation are major risk factors for depression and can increase the risk of heart disease, arthritis, Type II diabetes, and dementia.”  Pets not only have been comforting people at home with their cuddles and good nature, but they have also helped improve people’s mental and physical health to improve during these tough times.

The companion of these fellow pets, as strange as it may sound, has definitely impacted many people’s lives on a national level. Habri.org states that a national survey of pet owners and even non-pet owners commissioned by HABRI and Mars petcare found that 85% of respondents agreed that interaction with pets reduces loneliness, 76% agree human-pet interactions help address social isolation,  and 80% of pet owners said their pet makes them feel less lonely. Ms.Serrano, an English teacher and Speech and Debate Coach at Santa Ana high school, agrees that her pet Apollo has provided her companionship and comfort throughout quarantine. When asked about how her pet has helped her deal with quarantine she responded, “So I live alone which I normally love, but at the start of the quarantine it was really difficult because I could not see most of my family or friends and that alone aspect very quickly turned into loneliness…this started to take a real toll on my mood. However, one of the things that kept me going was my dog, Apollo. My dog has a big personality and while he can’t talk back, having him near helped alleviate some of the depression that I started to incur as part of my loneliness. He made me feel not quite as alone.” Ms. Serrano continued, “…Because he is a dog and therefore dependent on me, it gave me responsibilities that kept me accountable to keep moving throughout the day. I found that because I had nowhere to go and not much to do at the beginning of the quarantine it was easy to want to stay in bed and to waste away the day. An act that easily could lead me further into depression. But because I had Apollo to take care of, I had a reason to get up for the day and stay busy. “

At the end of the day, although our pets are often just seen just as our companions, they are a vital and crucial part of our lives that help us keep motivated and keep going through hard times, and our main serotonin “increasers”.