New Study Shows Surprising Link Between Cat Parents and Serious Mental Disorder

Researchers at the Queensland Mental Health Research Center in Australia conducted a study that found that being a cat owner can double your risk of developing schizophrenia, especially if you own a cat under the age of 25.

The parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), often found in domestic cats, has been associated with a wide range of direct and indirect physiological changes in the brain.

The researchers analyzed 17 studies published over the past 44 years, from 11 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We found an association between broad cat ownership and an increased risk of developing schizophrenia-related disorders,” explained psychiatrist John McGrath and fellow researchers, all from the Center for Mental Health Research at Queensland, in their study published last December.

Related: Science Says Dogs Are Better for People’s Mental Health Than Any Human Being

Science Alert goes on to report that once inside our bodies, T. gondii can infiltrate the central nervous system and influence neurotransmitters. The parasite has been associated with personality changes, the emergence of psychotic symptoms, and certain neurological disorders, including schizophrenia.

The study concludes that there is a need for more high-quality studies, based on larger and more representative samples, to better understand cat ownership as a factor in modifying the potential risk of mental disorders.

How pets help people with mental illness

The sad irony of this study is that owning a pet has been shown to benefit people with psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders.

Pets provide us with love, companionship and unconditional support. They can provide structure and purpose to the days of people with mental disorders. Of course, it can be difficult to care for a pet if you’re living with an extremely serious mental illness, but these people can even benefit from time spent with therapy dogs in a hospital setting.

Interacting with pets has been shown to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Anyone can benefit from it.

Psychology Today reports that in one study, twenty-one patients with schizophrenia were selected in Spain and divided into two groups. Twelve of the participants received a specialized therapy dog, while the others did not.

Patients benefiting from therapy dog ​​intervention showed improved quality of life and a reduction in symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and absence of affect.

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News Source :
Gn Health

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