Mental health issues affect not just the individual who is afflicted, but also those who are close to him or her. It’s also worth noting that each mental disorder has its own set of negative effects. However, you shouldn’t be concerned because most of these consequences may be avoided. Emotional Support Animals are one of the most well-known treatments for most psychiatric problems. An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefits for an individual with mental or emotional disabilities. These animals are often used by people who suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder to lessen the symptoms of their illness. These companions will assist you in navigating your mental instabilities, allowing you to recuperate more quickly. This article will introduce you to the numerous benefits of ESAs and how they can help those who suffer from mental health issues.
Who Can Benefit From ESAs?
One of the most important questions you should ask is who can use emotional support animals. As we mentioned before, people with mental illnesses may be eligible for an ESA. However, it is not enough that you suffer from anxiety or depression, since these are only indications of mental health issues, and an ESA recommendation requires a definitive diagnosis from a mental health specialist. You should consult your doctor to confirm that you are eligible for an ESA. Those who suffer from the following issues may be able to use ESAs: social phobia, autism and ADHD, panic disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, psychotic episodes.
When it comes to the importance of emotional support animals for these people, it is worth mentioning that these animals can help prevent many of the negative effects of the said conditions. If you choose to use an ESA instead of other treatments, such as medication or psychotherapy, your symptoms may be easier to manage and control.
How Are ESAs Different From Service Animals?
Before we delve into how ESAs help people manage their mental health issues, we should first discuss the difference between emotional support animals and service animals. This is necessary because many people often use these terms interchangeably, which can be misleading. ESA is not the same as a service animal, although they are similar in function. So what’s the difference?
First of all, ESAs are not trained to perform tasks for an individual with a mental illness. They only provide comfort and support. On the other hand, service animals are highly trained to perform specific tasks for their owner. These include pulling a wheelchair or guiding people with visual impairments.
Second, ESAs do not have to wear any kind of identifying gear, unlike service dogs. Service animals must wear special collars or harnesses so that other people can easily determine if they are working or not.
How ESAs Help People Manage Their Mental Health Issues
When it comes to mental health issues, emotional support animals can provide many benefits that cannot be found in medications. Let’s go over some of these benefits:
They Stimulate the Production of Natural Antidepressants in the Body
First of all, ESAs can help with symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that stroking a cat or a dog can stimulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. This is why petting your ESA for just half an hour will make you feel more relaxed and less stressed out. In addition, these companions give you a sense of purpose and meaning, as they depend on you to take care of them. Having this kind of responsibility can provide you with another form of motivation that you need.
They Are a Confidence Booster
Next, ESAs will not only make you happy, but they will also inspire you to step beyond your comfort zone. As you may be aware, stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult at times. As a result, you’ll need some help from your ESA.
They Will Help You Overcome Your Fears
People with mental health issues often get scared of everyday situations that other people find trivial. You often feel this urge to avoid these situations, but going out and doing things is still part of life. As a result, your mental health can suffer from this lack of activity and experience. Well, your ESA will help you overcome these fears by encouraging you to leave the house and try new things.
They Are Your Emotional Strength
Lastly, ESAs can also help you manage your mental health issues by being a source of emotional strength. When you feel that your symptoms are overwhelming, just hug or cuddle with your ESA and let the affection they give you flood through your body. This feeling of calm and security will make you feel better about yourself and reduce those feelings of panic or anxiety.
Which Animals Fall Into the Category of ESAs
Several animals can qualify as emotional support animals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, rabbits, birds, and horses. All of these animals have unique qualities that make them perfect for this type of role. For instance, rabbits are social and docile creatures who thrive on human interaction. Cats and dogs can sense when their owner is feeling depressed or anxious, so they will try their best to comfort and reassure them. However, the animal should have a calm temperament in order to be a good ESA. In addition, it is important that your therapist or doctor writes you an official letter confirming your need for an emotional support animal.
What if you could find a way to manage your mental health issues without medication? As it turns out, emotional support animals can provide many benefits that cannot be found in medications. These animals can help with symptoms of depression, encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, and provide emotional strength when you need it the most. They are also great for people who suffer from anxiety or phobias. Even better, you can choose between an ESA cat or dog to suit your lifestyle and preferences. You can even choose a monkey or a horse. Whatever you choose, your ESA will be there for you whenever you need support.