The pet effect: Researchers find pets ease depression and loneliness after spousal loss
The study, funded by The Gerontological Society of America and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition and published in The Gerontologist , examined depressive symptoms and loneliness among people age 50 and older who experienced the loss of a spouse through death or divorce.
“Increasingly, there’s evidence that our social support networks are really beneficial for maintaining our mental health following stressful events, despite the devastation we experience in later life when we experience major social losses,” said Dawn Carr, lead author and FSU associate professor of sociology. “I was interested in understanding alternatives to human networks for buffering the psychological consequences of spousal loss.”
Carr and her team compared individuals who experienced the loss of a spouse to those who stayed continuously married. Then they explored whether the effects of spousal loss differed for those who had a pet at the time of the death or divorce.