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How Pets Can Help With Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health & More

How Pets Can Help With Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health & More

Do Pets Help With Anxiety, Depression, And Mental Illness?

It is common knowledge that pets can be a great source of comfort and connection for most people. But in short YES, pets CAN help with anxiety, depression, mental illness, PTSD, disabilities and MORE!

In this article we measure and analyze the connection between our pets and their impact on our mental and physical health, while also answering common questions in regards to the possibilities of owning a pet. 

Pets have been shown in studies to make people feel more relaxed, happy, confident, and loved. In turn this can help alleviate the symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, PTSD, Autism, ADD, ADHD and physical conditions.

Pets can help people who are feeling lonely


Pets can be a wonderful companion to someone who is feeling lonely. They provide unconditional love, warmth, and companionship without judgment or criticism. At times these qualities in people can be hard to find. Whilst in our busy society today where people work long hours, communicate through social media and digital devices more than ever before, it can be very common to feel disconnected from those around us. No matter the time of day, general mood, or isolation from other people, pets will always be able to provide attention and affection to their owners and family members.


Pets are a great source of unconditional love

Pets are a great source of unconditional love as they provide companionship. Just about any type of pet can be comforting to someone who feels lonely or is in pain, but nonetheless the kind of pet you choose must fit your lifestyle accordingly.

Pets speak volumes with their own language - you don't need to know or understand the language of your pet since it's all about tone and gestures anyway! Pets provide so much comfort when we experience something negative like going through heartbreak or if our loved one passes away; pets give us that extra boost of affection and care for an emotional high-five during those hard times.


Dogs can be particularly helpful for people who have experienced physical or sexual abuse

Dogs have done wonders for many survivors of physical and sexual abuse alike. They offer the unconditional love that humans cannot always give to others without reservations. They listen without judgement when we need to vent or talk and at most times they do this better than any human could ever do. They can protect us from intruders or attackers and help provide a sense of security for those who have been taken advantage of. Dogs can sense when their owner is feeling down and want nothing more than to please them in any way possible; even if that means just sitting with their owner on the couch until they feel better again.


Can pets reduce the effects of chronic pain, anxiety, and depression?

Yes, pets can greatly reduce pain by aiding in physical therapy and relaxing those who are under stress. They provide emotional support to those who might otherwise be lonely or isolated and distraction for those struggling with anxiety or depression. Anyone living with chronic pain, anxiety, or depression should seriously consider getting a pet because they have many benefits.

A study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that simply stroking a dog may lower blood pressure as well as heart rate in humans. The research team studied 129 people ages 18-55 years of age for 90 minutes during their normal workday routine and measured their blood pressure both before breakfast and right after lunchbreak when they were allowed to pet a dog for 10 minutes if desired. People's systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading which is the first number to increase during stress) decreased 8 percent and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) decreased 6.5 percent after their petting session. This study was done to determine if animals could help reduce stress and anxiety rather than using a sample of people with chronic pain or anxiety.

In addition, a study from researchers in Italy showed that exam room stress, which causes both pain and anxiety, decreased after dogs were brought into the hospital to visit patients who had been waiting for long periods of time and were agitated or irritated. Hospital anxiety scores went from an average of 6.8 on a scale of 1 to 10 before the visit, to 5 after having been visited by a dog for 20 minutes.

"They are not petting us because they love us; they're petting us because they know we need it," says Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Pet Stress Center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. "Dogs have a 'sixth sense' about what we need."

As you can see, our pets are often integral to our emotional health. Multiple studies have shown that they can reduce the effects of chronic pain, anxiety, and depression as well as improve moods.


Having an animal increases social interaction among adults

What can pets teach us about creating a sense of belonging?

Since the beginning of time, animals have been a focal point for social interaction. In today's world with everyone glued to their phones and tablets, this has changed drastically; but scientists are saying that having an animal around really can increase your chances of meeting new people.

Many people feel like they don't belong in their communities. It could be because there is no one around them to talk with or share life experiences with, which often leads to feeling disconnected from the world and other human beings. A recent study by University of Western Australia, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition surveyed nearly 2,700 men and women in four cities: Perth, Australia; San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The findings were that pet owners were 60% more likely than non-pet owners to meet previously unacquainted members of their neighborhood! It’s no surprise that pets can be social butterflies with other pets but what might surprise you is just how much this simple act may help humans who crave connection create some for themselves. People want companionship when others aren’t available, even if that companion happens to have four legs and a tail!


Pet Owner Statistics - Benefits Of Owning A Pet - Do Pets Help Reduce Anxiety - Are Pets Good For Depression - Pets And Mental Health Infographic

Petting an animal has been shown to lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in humans

In recent years, a growing number of studies have been conducted that explore the effects petting an animal has on one's stress level. With heightened levels of cortisol in our society today from increased work and family pressure to personal concerns such as health or relationship problems, many people find solace with their pets when it comes time for rest. Pet owners who interacted regularly with their animals had lower levels of this hormone (cortisol) than those who did not own any pets at all!

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) has shown that petting animals can reduce stress levels in humans.

The research found that when people stroked or otherwise interacted with their furry friends for 10 minutes they measured a significant drop in cortisol (a hormone linked to feelings of stress and anxiety) from pre-interaction measures.


Animal therapy is often used by therapists to treat patients with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more!

When you're feeling down, it can be difficult to find ways of coping. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol for help with their anxiety and depression; however animal therapy is becoming a more common form of treatment due its proven effectiveness in treating mental health problems like PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) which are often the result from experiencing trauma such as rape, child abuse, war time combat experience etc. Animal therapy has been shown to have benefits even when used alongside other treatments!

Animal therapy is used by therapists to treat patients with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Animal-assisted therapy helps people in a variety of ways because therapeutic relationships with animals provide healing benefits. In the case of adults and children who have difficulty communicating verbally, an animal can convey nonverbal messages more effectively than words; for example a dog might show that someone needs help through its body language. In addition to feeling less lonely or isolated when they are able to bond with the pet during treatment sessions, both humans and animals may feel strengthened by the reciprocal act of giving and receiving comfort from another living being. This in turn can make therapy sessions more productive while providing a sense of security or comfort to let some of those walls down in order to communicate better.


Pets can help with Autism

Here are some specific examples that show how animal therapy can be particularly helpful for children with autism:

Children with autism or Asperger's Syndrome may engage in self-stimulating behavior such as rocking, head banging, and repeating the same words or phrases. According to some studies, 10% of children with autism are aggressive towards others. Often these behaviors make it difficult for them to interact with other people; their actions can be misunderstood and lead to exclusion from family activities.

A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that when autistic children interacted with a trained dog, some basic interactions emerged like waving and petting as well as more complex behaviors, such as looking at or calling the dog. This, in turn, increased the comfort level of both the child and their parents. Even communication between autistic children and their caretakers may improve with the presence of a non-judgmental pet. In addition, families become more cohesive when they are able to spend quality time together while including your pet or service animal.


Pets can help with ADD & ADHD

Have you heard of the benefits that pets can have for those with ADHD and ADD? Pets such as cats, small rodents or dogs, may be able to offer a calming effect on people who suffer from these conditions.

A study showed in 1982 conducted by Drs Hartman & Sideman found that ADD/ADHD patients spent more time playing quietly after handling their own pet than they did before. The theory is that both tactile stimulation (petting) and forming an emotional connection between human-animal interaction – can contribute towards reducing hyperactivity symptoms.

Pets can be a natural remedy for ADD & ADHD just as they are for children. Studies have shown that dogs and cats may help by increasing physical activity, lowering stress levels, providing structure and support, serving as nonverbal conversation partners and encouraging movement toward desired behaviors.

So in short yes, pets can help with ADD and ADHD because pets lowers stress levels on their owners so this would lead to an improvement in the condition or symptoms of ADHD. Pets also offer structure which is helpful when trying to deal with attention issues such as ADD or ADHD. One unique way that pets help people with these conditions is through exercise; many people who have clinical symptoms associated with one of these disorders do not get enough exercise on a regular basis so petting your dog for instance provides an opportunity to get some exercise and this in turn helps reduce stress. Pets also support their owner by being there when no one else is, they can provide a non-verbal conversation which serves as an outlet for people who might be uncomfortable relating to other people on a social level.


Service animals can help you live a better life

Some animal shelters even provide therapy animals specifically trained for this purpose! If you're looking into adopting a new furry friend, consider asking about any potential therapeutic services offered at your local pet shelter.

Many people in the United States rely on service animals to help them through their daily lives. Service animals can offer great help and assistance to those with disabilities, medical conditions or mental illness. These highly trained and specially-selected companions can assist with a wide range of medical, emotional or physical needs such as assisting blind individuals in navigating streets and public spaces safely by leading them across busy intersections.

Service Animals are also often used for mental illnesses like PTSD but have also been invaluable aids during times when patients need assistance coping with panic attacks that happen unexpectedly due to anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

To help people with disabilities, medical conditions or mental illness live more independent lives, service animals can be a great asset. These incredible furry friends offer logistical assistance and emotional support for those who need it most.

Service animals are an excellent resource to have when caring for someone living with any number of debilitating conditions that cause restricted mobility or other difficulties in their everyday life. They provide transportation as well as companionship so the person doesn't feel alone during this difficult time - something we all know is important!


What kind of pet should I get?

The right pet for you depends on the amount of time and attention you can dedicate to it, your living arrangements, your budget and what kind of animal you want. For example, cats prefer being at home without a lot of company while dogs enjoy being playful outdoors with plenty of exercise.

What is your personality like? Are you outgoing and adventurous, or more introverted and shy? Do you prefer to be at home in front of a cozy fire on stormy days, or do you enjoy braving the elements with all their wind-blown leaves and rain soaked sidewalks. If this sounds like an apt description for yourself then it's probably best if we discuss some pets that will suit both these scenarios equally well.

Dogs are often seen as perfect companions during walks through busy city streets - they're usually up for anything! Most cats can't get enough of cuddling or relaxing by at home when the weather turns unseasonably cold or just downright wet! If you think about all the activities you like to do and which type of animal would best suit them, it can help narrow down what to look for at the shelter or from breeders online.

Limited in space or work a lot of hours? Then maybe a smaller animal such as a lizard, rodent, or fish may benefit you and your lifestyle! They don't need to be walked, are very easy to take care of, and many owners find them extremely cute. If you still aren't sure what animal to get, consider researching some different types of animals online or going to a shelter. Chances are you'll find the perfect animal for you (and it will be happy to have someone take care of it)!

You should always get a pet that is compatible with your lifestyle and that can be taken care of properly. If you are too busy or not financially prepared to take on the responsibility of a living creature than we recommend waiting until you can do so comfortably. Make sure to think about your living situation too. If you live in an apartment with no yard and have never owned a pet before, consider getting a small mouse or a hamster rather than a larger animal.


Can pets cause MORE stress?

Pets are a major source of joy, but they can also cause stress. If you are one with limited time, travel often or lack patience, then a pet may not be the best idea for you. Pets are always work, whether it be cleaning up after them, feeding, bathing, exercising, vet visits, etc. you can assume that they will almost always increase your everyday to do list with tasks related to maintaining and properly caring for your pet. The key idea is to note whether these extra tasks and responsibility will cause you more stress in your daily life. Ultimately before getting a pet you must decide if the above outweighs the benefits that pets may hold for your physical and mental health.

The subjectivity about whether or not pets bring more happiness than anxiety is something that has been debated for centuries.  Data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which surveyed US adults in 2012 and 2013 found that people with mental health conditions like depression were less likely to have seen their doctor within the last year if they had any type of pet compared to those without pets at home: 63% versus 72%. On top of this, there's data showing how high levels of animal contact may be associated with lower blood pressure among some populations—but it’s unclear as yet what might account for these reductions in hypertension risk factors such as salt intake and overall health factors.


Pros and cons of having a pet?

The pros of having a pet are that you get to be around an animal, which is great for those who are lonely, and also animals can provide comfort. Many people who have autism spectrum disorder or mental illness often find companionship in cats, reptiles, fish, rodents, or dogs. Animals can also help with loneliness as they continually keep you company. They can provide protection and a sense of security while also giving you ears to vent to without judgement. Pets may also help you become more active thus contributing to your overall physical health in a positive way!

The Cons of pet ownership would be that they need to be fed and taken care of which then requires additional time and energy on their behalf. They also require more attention and care than just the average person because pets are living creatures and have needs too. Pets can also create allergies in some people, due to how animals shed allergens into the air through their dander. You must also consider that pets cost money to take care of, this can become a burden on your bank account, leaving less money for you to personally use and enjoy. Another con is that you must accommodate your pets care whilst traveling or going out for an extended amount of time.

Having a pet has its fair share of pros and cons, but you must decide on your habits and lifestyle before making the choice to becoming a pet owner.


Should I adopt a pet or buy?

We always recommend adoption before shopping, giving a second life or a new home to those animals who are most in need. Adoption is an incredible way to help aged and newborn pets alike as most shelters have a combination of adolescent and adult animals. Not only is adoption a great way to obtain a loving animal but it is almost always cheaper than purchasing an animal from a retail setting, also there can be notable harm done by giving your business to puppy mills, retail stores, and breeders which in turn can worsen the negative health factors of “Pure Bred” animals and over production of animals.

On the other side of the token, if you are unable to find the right pet that would fit your needs after checking with local shelters FIRST, then by all means buy your new family member from a reputable business or breeder with high standards and positive ethics in regards to the treatment and care of said animals.


Do dogs help with anxiety and Depression?

A recent study has found that pets can actually help people with mental illness. In the case of dogs, they provide a natural stress coping mechanism which releases oxytocin and serotonin in response to their owners’ affectionate actions towards them such as petting and stroking.

Dogs are known for being loyal friends- some might even say man's best friend! And research is now showing us why this loyalty pays off so well - it seems like our furry pals have an ability to naturally relieve anxiety or depression by releasing certain hormones when we interact with them positively (i.e., giving love).


Do cats help with anxiety and depression?

There are many different reasons why cats may make us feel better. They can act as a buffer to the outside world and provide much needed comfort in times of anxiety, depression, or loneliness. The soothing purr from most felines is also one way that they alleviate stress for their owners through sound therapy - which has been found helpful with conditions such as ADHD & sleep apnea too! Cats have always had this effect on humans throughout our history; but now there's scientific evidence showing how these furry friends reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone) by up to 20% after just 15 minutes together!


Do Hamsters help with anxiety and depression?

Yes. Hamsters are a great way to get healthy interaction with an animal without the significant upkeep and care in comparison to larger animals such as dogs or cats. Hamsters can provide love, connection, and companionship with less exercise and food requirements for those who are not prepared to take on owning a larger animal.

It can be really hard for people with depression and anxiety to muster up the energy do regular things like get exercise, socialize, bake cookies, pet a dog etc. But taking care of even one small animal such as a hamster can change everything because you're caring for another living being rather than just yourself, adding some joy and excitement back into your life. And if your pet is bored/distressed too - such as from being home alone all day - these little bundles of fur will come out and never pass up the opportunity for some cuddles or adventure!


Do Fish help with anxiety and depression?

The question of whether pet fish can help with anxiety and depression is one that may never be answered definitively. The effect on the person will depend a lot more on how they interact with their pet than any general benefits associated specifically to fishes; it's possible, for example, that some people find them calming in particular.

In a study conducted at St. Lawrence University, fish were used to help refugees recover from their trauma as there are few opportunities to interact with animals in refugee camps.

Each day for six weeks participants would have the opportunity to take care of and feed the fish, watch them grow and also clean their tanks. Participants reported that taking on these tasks helped lift their sense of control over their circumstances, thus contributing to feeling less isolated or ostracized by society.

A professor involved in the project emphasized how critical connection with nature is in overcoming mental health struggles saying: "It's like an extended therapy session when you're talking about gestures that can help people who are withdrawing from one another - they touch an animal and feel better able to connect to the world around them."

"The fish are an antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug combined in one," said James Prosek, who wrote a book about fish. "They bring joy to people's lives; they make your day brighter when you see them swimming around."

One thing we do know for sure about having an aquarium or pet fish is that there are plenty of potential upsides: as well as being enjoyable animals to have around - especially if you don't own anything else at all or live somewhere where other types of pets aren't allowed- many species also offer stress relief by simply swimming in their tank.

If you plan on getting a fish (or more than one) we recommend proper/larger accommodation for your pet fish because hey, would you like to spend your life in a little glass box?


Do Mice help with anxiety and depression?

Pet mice serve as a form of anxiety and depression therapy to those who are socially isolated.

If you have been feeling anxious or depressed, consider getting a pet mouse to start your recovery process toward better health. Pet mice serve as an excellent form of social interaction in the same way that dogs, cats and birds do for people with pets of their own species. You will no longer feel so alone when you open up your cage door each day, because there is a living thing inside looking back. Studies show that these little creatures can take the edge off on days when we might otherwise get very sad.

"People with pet mice have less frequent feelings of anger and hostility, and are more likely to feel happy and relaxed than those without pets," said Dr. Ellen Walker, Ph.D., who conducted a study on the effects of pet mice on people living alone in her home about 2 years ago. She found that these people were "less lonely at a much higher rate than expected" given their behavior in the study.

In addition, those who felt that they had lost a significant person from their lives, said that pet mice helped them to cope with the loss and to do better over time. "We think it's because they were able to talk freely about losing their loved one, and also because they were able to laugh at themselves, something that is essential for uncovering some of the sadness we feel in response to loss," said Dr. Walker.


Do Guinea Pigs help with anxiety and depression?

Guinea pigs are actually a popular service animal for people with mental illness, including anxiety and depression. According to Matt Haig, a man who struggled with serious bouts of depression after publishing his first novel at the age of 25, "petting a guinea pig was more helpful than any other form of therapy."

Haig even wrote about it in his book "The Dark," which tells the story of a teenage boy battling OCD and frequent suicidal thoughts who works as an apprentice to a taxidermist. The protagonist found that he could turn off and relax when stroking its furry back again and again.

Anxiety is often treated though exposure therapy where fears are confronted by gradually increasing them so they become less intense in response. Guinea pigs, for anyone who has ever had one as a pet, are gentle creatures that enjoy being stroked and held.

When you hold a guinea pig, or any animal for that matter, you are releasing oxytocin through the skin.

Guinea pigs make excellent service animals because of their small size and uncomplicated care needs. They don't require as much training as other animals used in therapy, like dogs or horses.


Do Snakes help with anxiety and depression?

After years of research, scientists are finally confirming what snake handlers have been saying for decades, snakes can help with anxiety and depression.

Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? Consider picking up a pet snake! After doctors and psychologists studied the effects on people who handled snakes as therapy, they discovered that some patients experienced significant decreases in both symptoms after just one session with their serpentine friends- sometimes even hours later. They found that it was easier to calm themselves down when touching something cold than anything else due to its high contrast feeling (touching icky things before handling a reptile). It's not surprising since reptiles don't need personal space like other mammals do so anyone can get close enough without triggering any stress response subconsciously which is typically associated with touch.


Do Birds help with anxiety and depression?

Birds have been shown to help with anxiety and depression. Birds can provide a great deal of relief for those struggling with mental illness. According to research, the therapeutic effects that birds have on people are due in large part to their ability to captivate and enthrall humans through naturalist behaviors as well as beautiful songs. Birds help many who struggle mentally by providing peace and harmless entertainment during troubling times when all else fails.

"Birds are said to be able to cure the heart," according a Japanese proverb that has survived for centuries, "but they can heal many other things too." You may not know about this healing power of birds if you've never had any pets in your home or garden before - but it turns out that having feathered friends nearby is actually really good for our moods! Through their chirping songs, colorful feathers, and all around boisterous behavior (yes there's something called bird therapy), these winged creatures provide an excellent source of amusement as well as emotional release throughout the day. In fact some experts believe people who live near forests benefit from lower rates of mental health disorders.


Do Ferrets help with anxiety and depression?

Yes, pet ferrets can help reduce anxiety and depression since interaction with them is unique, unlike that of interacting with say a cat or a dog. And while these interactions may not seem more fun in all ways, they do seem to have some additional value over that of the same interaction had with say a cat or a dog. The unique nature and behavior of ferrets make interaction more satisfying, and therefore this satisfaction helps counter depression further by causing a rise in overall mood.

Ferret owners have reported lower levels of nervousness when they own these playful pets. They're also incredibly social animals that crave attention; this can help those who struggle with loneliness or isolation. Besides being good for your mental health, ferrets are also great companion animals since they bond with their owners quickly, they are fun, outgoing, playful, and enjoy being held like small children do.


Do Horses help with anxiety and depression?

Horses have long been considered therapy animals for those who are suffering from various illnesses such as cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, veterans post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), children in foster care homes etc., but now it appears these creatures may also be able to provide relief for some individuals coping with chronic conditions such as moderate depression and generalized anxiety disorders.

A new study suggests that horses can help with anxiety and depression. Researchers surveyed over 1,000 people to explore the relationship between horse ownership and mental health outcomes. The surveys found that 84% of respondents felt better after interacting with their own or someone else's horse on a regular basis while only about 60% said they would feel this way during other types of interactions like playing sports or watching TV.


Do Reptiles and Lizards help with anxiety and depression?

Typically small reptiles and Lizards are often used in the treatment for anxiety and depression, as they provide a calming effect.

The idea that lizards can soothe individuals with mental health disorders is not new nor particularly unique to this field of study. Furthermore, studies have shown these animals may be able to help those experiencing symptoms such as panic attacks or general feelings of hopelessness because their presence alone has been proven time after time to create an environment which promotes relaxation and contentment.

Lizards are an interesting creature to study. On one hand, they can be the root of many phobias and fears due to their ability as predators with a massive arsenal of weapons including venomous fangs, claws that inject neurotoxins into blood streams in order to paralyze or kill them from afar before consuming it whole, and there scaly or leathery appearance - what’s not terrifying about that?

Yet on the other side lizards provide valuable insights into human mental health by providing relief through therapeutic contact such as petting or holding. Lizards can also be helpful in therapy sessions themselves due to their calm nature, people suffering from depression have been shown increased levels of oxytocin after handling live reptiles.


Do Rabbits help with anxiety & depression?

Absolutely! Rabbits are one of the best pets to own if you're just not able to have a dog or cat. They are low-key, easy to care for, and they're happy being either in laps or hopping around their enclosure. Most importantly, their considerable soft fur is thought (by scientists) to reduce anxiety and depression in humans as well!

Researchers are increasingly looking to pet therapy as a way of alleviating symptoms of emotional distress in people. The UK's largest survey, conducted by the RSPCA and University College London (UCL), found that animals can reduce depression, stress and anxiety in their owners by up to 87%.

You may think bunnies are just cute, cuddly creatures that want to hop around your house and garden. What you might not know is they have the power to help with anxiety and depression! The calmness of these little critters' demeanor can actually make a person feel calmer too by reducing heart rate or simply providing some company during an often lonely time.



Our Conclusion On How Pets Help With Mental & Physical Health

Animals provide many amazing benefits to humans. From the comfort of a furry friend, to the health benefits that come from pet ownership, animals are an invaluable part of society. Pets can be especially helpful for those with mental illness such as anxiety and depression, which affects about one in four adults every year according to Mental Health America. The right animal companion may help you feel less anxious or lonely - but it’s important not to rush into getting a new pet without doing your research first! We want everyone who wants a pet to find their perfect match, we always recommend adopting before shopping around at local stores so you can help an animal in need of a loving caring home. Make sure you're ready for all the responsibility that comes with owning any type of animal by researching what pets need most.

We hope you've found this post about how pets can help with mental illness helpful. If so, please share it with your friends and family who might be in need of some support themselves. Make sure to take the time to consider all aspects of owning a pet before adopting one - if you're not ready for the responsibility that comes along with being an animal owner, don't adopt!

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