In an issue of Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, Bente Berge and colleagues describe their findings from a study in which individuals with depression and other psychological disorders worked with farm animals, including sheep, horses, dairy cows and cattle, poultry, rabbits and pigs as part of a psychological treatment regimen. At follow-up studies, self-efficacy was significantly higher, particularly among those with affective disorders like depression. Coping was also greatly improved among those with the highest rises in self-efficacy.
Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP), using horses, may also be effective for those who are depressed. In the 2007 issue of Society and Animals, Bradley T. Klontz and his colleagues reported on a treatment study involving equine-assisted experiential therapy. At the conclusion of the study, participants reported reduced psychological distress and enhanced well being. Improvements were stable at a six-month follow-up.