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Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Seasonal affective disorder (Risk factors)
Seasonal affective disorder (Research)
Pub Date: 03/22/2009
Publication: Name: Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association Publisher: American Psychotherapy Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 American Psychotherapy Association ISSN: 1535-4075
Issue: Date: Spring, 2009 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 218027806
Full Text: [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Beat the Winter Blues with a feline friend. January and February are traditionally the dreariest winter months, and standard complaints from the "Winter Blues" following the New Year include headaches, colds, sleep problems, depression and mood swings, poor mental clarity, and general difficulties relaxing. An extensive study conducted by Dr. June McNicholas, psychologist, outlines the health benefits for cat owners.

According to McNicholas's research, cat owners were significantly more relaxed and generally happier than non-cat owners during these months. Additionally, the 5-year research project found that cat owners suffered 60% less headaches and were 21% less likely to catch a cold or flu, perhaps due to boosted immune systems. Though all cat owners in the study benefited from these effects, male owners under 40 seemed to receive the greatest boosts from their furry companions.

Since cats spend more time indoors during the winter months, owners get more contact with them. These more frequent interactions can be a great source of comfort in the midst of the gloom, just as significant human support has been proven to offer health benefits. Dr. McNicholas explains, "Medical opinion has long held that in times of stress or anxiety one of the most valuable assets is a supportive relationship. This study suggests that cats are just as able to provide that support as humans."

M2 Communications. (2009, January 21). Cats protection: Owning a cat helps beat the winter blues, new study shows. Retrieved January 21, 2009, from InteliHealth. http:// www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtlH/WSIHW000/333/8014/1016539.html
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