Don't ever buy pets as a gift or on impulse. It's not the solution to depression.
Yes, pets are wonderful stress and depression relievers, especially for the Holiday Blues, but they are not a panacea nor are they disposable. Adoption should be done with a clear head and a full understanding of the responsibilities and financial stresses involved: pet food, pet beds, collars, leashes, $1000+ Vet bills, training, and possible destruction of your furniture and floors. Instead, consider petsitting for a friend or volunteering at your local pet shelter or pet rescue like Molly's Mutts and Meows in Los Angeles.
I certainly had to deal with my share of depression and perhaps the way I dealt with it will help you or someone you know. This year I had breast cancer, along with surgeries and chemo; none of that was fun, but for the most part it was manageable. But last March, it was my pre-existing conditions and the side effects of my post-surgery meds that threw a big wrench into my recovery even before I took chemo. I'll spare you the details [you're welcome] and get to the point: with misery, comes depression. I was weeping, sleep deprived, and I lost 10 lbs the hard way. I was beginning to wonder if surviving cancer was worth it. Minutes felt like hours. And it didn't help that Valium, prescribed as a muscle relaxer, has the side effect of causing depression. I went to my doctors for help of course, but after that...
I turned to the one thing that always gives me comfort: cute cats and dogs.
But I don't have any pets. This allows me to look after my clients' pets whenever they need me. So what am I to do without my own huggable, furry, fluffiness, who is always happy to see me? I Google.
Well first, I flipped through all of my photos of my clients' pets (Furry Kids Gallery and Slideshows) and then I Googled:
When the Cute isn't Enough
GETTING REAL HELP
Cute pictures of dogs and cats are the simplest and cheapest form of therapy, but it's not real therapy by any means. For those suffering from depression, PTSD, or considering suicide, please call or visit:
Getting help shouldn't be embarrassing. Depression is a real thing and there's help out there. http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline
Call to get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area.
Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
They have online chats or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to someone.
For those in the Los Angeles County area, you can also visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/ivpp/injury_topics/Suicide/suicide_hotlines.htm
For Military Families, Press 1 for Crisis Line
Veterans are especially vulnerable to PTSD depression and need help the most. Veterans Crisis Line can do online chats and its completely confidential. They sacrificed themselves for our country. They deserve all the help they need and more.
"Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That's a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher. The figure, released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in February, is based on the agency's own data and numbers reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. Those states represent about 40% of the U.S. population. The other states, including the two largest (California and Texas) and the fifth-largest (Illinois), did not make data available." (http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/)
I'm totally sure scientists are working right now toward an injectable or pill form of The Cute, containing the full spectrum of happy wagging dogs and purring kittehs, along with those 10 essential vitamins. In the mean time, keep an eye out for your friends in trouble. Be a good listener and steer them to someone who can help.