SOURCE: Eli Lilly and Company

June 05, 2007 10:43 ET

National Campaign Showcases the Importance of Joining Forces With "Man's Best Friend" in Overcoming Depression

Emmy-Winning Actress Helps People Incorporate Their Dog into a Support Network

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwire - June 5, 2007) - While many people with depression turn to family and friends for support, research has shown that enlisting the help of an unexpected companion -- a dog -- may also have a positive effect on overall health and well-being(i). As part of her commitment to helping people with the illness, Emmy Award-winning actress, Linda Dano, is leading Support Partners: Canine Companions, a new program that offers practical tips on how to expand support networks by incorporating dogs into the recovery process. The program is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) and the Psychiatric Service Dog Society.

"Depression is an illness often associated with strong social stigma, causing people to withdraw from their lives, intensifying the emotional symptoms of the illness, like sadness and feelings of worthlessness," said Rakesh Jain, M.D., M.P.H., director of psychiatric drug research, R/D Clinical Research Center, Lake Jackson, Texas. "While a doctor, family and friends should form the basis of any support network, dogs can play an important role by being a constant companion. They can help reduce these emotional symptoms, while possibly helping other symptoms, like fatigue or lack of energy, with daily walks."

Research has shown that there are many potential benefits to having a dog that correlate to areas health-care professionals believe can help people with depression.

--  The majority of pet owners feel their pets are extremely important
    when they are sad, lonely or depressed.(ii)
--  Dogs can provide the desirable qualities of a best friend, like
    listening, physical contact and empathy.(iii)
--  Half of people with a dog believe that their pet makes a major
    difference to their lives, ranking increased exercise and companionship as
    the two most important differences.(iv)
--  Talking to dogs is related to greater life satisfaction and better
    physical and mental health.(v)
Linda Dano, Support Partners: Canine Companions spokesperson, has personally experienced the benefits a dog can have in helping to manage depression. "As someone who has always been a dog-owner, my Lhasa apsos, Mo and Charlie, became more important to me than ever when I was diagnosed with depression," says Dano. "I started getting help from my physician and support from my friends, and soon realized that my dogs also gave me a sense of comfort, purpose and companionship. Many days when all I wanted was to stay in bed, alone, I knew I had to get up to take care of Mo and Charlie and comfort them as they comforted me."

Support Partners: Canine Companions offers a brochure that provides information about the benefits of dogs, the different levels of support a dog can offer someone with depression and easy, practical ways pet owners can immediately work with their dogs to include them in their support network. The brochure also provides those who are unsure if they have depression information about the illness and how to take the first step of asking for help.

"There are many simple things you can do with your dog if you're depressed that may help you feel better," explains Joan Esnayra, Ph.D., president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, a nonprofit organization that works with mental-health consumers who wish to train their dogs to assist with the management of depression. "Taking your dog for a walk can help you get some exercise. Teaching your dog a new trick can give you a sense of accomplishment. Even petting your dog can help with your recovery by relieving stress and anxiety."

About the Support Partners Program

Support Partners: Canine Companions is the newest component of the Support Partners program, a national educational campaign dedicated to people with depression and to those who care about them. Co-sponsored by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC), the Support Partners program aims to open the lines of communication about the illness and encourages a support-team approach to overcoming depression. Support Partners offers three guidebooks that provide tips for people with depression, and those who care about them, on how to form a support network. Copies of the guidebooks can be obtained by visiting

About Depression

Up to 19 million Americans per year are diagnosed with major depressive disorder(vi),(vii). It can happen to anyone of any age, race or ethnic group(viii); however, women are nearly twice as likely to experience depression as men(ix). Depression is a serious medical condition with a variety of symptoms, such as sadness, loss of interest, fatigue, changes in appetite or weight, or bodily aches and pains(x). For some, depression can include thoughts of death or suicide.(xi)

The goal of treatment is to help people with depression feel more like themselves, so they can move forward with their lives. Depression symptoms that don't go away completely can prevent people with depression from getting fully well and may increase the risk of symptoms coming back. Nobody should settle for feeling only slightly better. With the right treatment and support, recovering from depression is possible.

About the Psychiatric Service Dog Society

The Psychiatric Service Dog Society (PSDS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) education, advocacy, research and training facilitation. It provides essential information for persons disabled by severe mental illness who wish to train a service dog to assist with the management of symptoms. The PSDS consults regularly with mental health-care providers in their efforts to learn more about PSD. The organization also hosts an online community of veteran and new service-dog handlers . The PSDS does not provide or train dogs for individuals. It is an educational and capacity-building organization dedicated to responsible psychiatric service dog community stewardship. Please visit for more information.

About Lilly

Lilly (NYSE: LLY), a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at

(i)    Serpell, J.A. Evidence for long term effects of pet ownership
       on human health.  Pets, Benefits and Practice.  Waltham Symposium
       20.  April 19, 1990.

(ii)   The Delta Society. "The Healthy Pleasure of Their Company: Companion
       Animals and Human Health" by Karen Allen, School of Medicine, State
       University of New York at Buffalo.  Available at
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(iii)  Allen, Karen.  "Coping with Life Changes & Transitions: The Role of

(iv)   Serpell, J.A. Evidence for long term effects of pet ownership on
       human health.  Pets, Benefits and Practice.  Waltham Symposium 20.
       April 19, 1990.

(v)    Allen, Karen.  "Coping with Life Changes & Transitions: The Role of

(vi)   Kessler, Ronald et al. "Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of
       12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey
       Replication." Arch Gen Psychiatry. June 2005. 62: 617-709.

(vii)  United States Census 2000, Population as of April 1, 2000.
       Available at  Accessed
       May 10, 2007.

(viii) Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. About Mood Disorders.
       Available at:
       Accessed April 24, 2007.

(ix)   National Institute of Mental Health. Depression Research at the
       National Institute of Mental Health: Fact Sheet. Available at Accessed
       April 4, 2007.

(x)    American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
       of Mental Disorders. 4th ed., Text Revision. Washington DC: American
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(xi)   American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
       of Mental Disorders. 4th ed., Text Revision. Washington DC: American
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