You will be surprised to know that 57% of Americans feel paralyzed due to immense stress. Stress, depression, or any other mental issues can wreak havoc on your overall well-being. If not handled on time, you may have to face serious health consequences that can have adverse effects on your future too. From seeking expert help to mediating, socializing, and exercising, there are multiple ways to beat mental problems like anxiety and depression to name a few.
But nothing can make you feel relaxed and stress-free than getting a new friend. Wait! We are not talking about making new human friends. No doubt, human beings provide great emotional support and can help you deal with mental health issues. But, animals, whether dogs or cats are friendly companions that come with some powerful health and therapeutic benefits.
You may think of adopting a pet. Well, a pet around may lift up your mood, but Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) do more than that. ESAs are friendly companions that can help you fight symptoms associated with behavior, physical, and mental disorders. They provide social support and relief to people suffering from certain disabilities. Keep on reading the blog to know the actual meaning and benefits of ESAs.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
Also sometimes referred to as comfort animals, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are therapy animals that provide companionship and can help you overcome stress, loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
However, ‘Emotional Support Animal’ and ‘Service animal’ are not interchangeable terms. ESAs are different from service animals; we will help you identify the difference between the two.
Difference Between Emotional Support Animal and Service Animal
People often consider an Emotional Support Animal and a service animal the same. However, there exists a huge difference between the two.
As stated above, ESAs provide emotional comfort and can help alleviate mental health issues like anxiety and depression. On the contrary, service animals are guide companies that are trained to assist people suffering from physical or mental disabilities like blindness.
Furthermore, ESAs are not allowed in every public place, however, you can take a service dog wherever you want. For instance, ESAs may not be allowed in restaurants, shopping malls or other public places.
Benefits of Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
In recent years, there has been a steep rise in the popularity and use of emotional support animals as companionship partners. ESAs are also becoming a primary support form for people dealing with psychiatric discomforts like stress, depression, and anxiety.
Some of the amazing benefits of ESAs are
1) Mental and Emotional Support
As the name suggests, Emotional Support Animals provide immense mental and emotional aid. These furry buddies are the best emotional support for people suffering from
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Specific phobias like agoraphobia and aerophobia
If you are suffering from any of the above-mentioned mental issues, getting an Emotional Support Animal like a dog or cat is the perfect solution.
2) Helps to Increase Neurochemicals
Getting unconditional emotional support and love from another living being can make anyone feel good and happy. As per a study, animals such as dogs increase certain neurochemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin levels in our brains.
These neurochemicals are associated with happiness, love, and pleasure—the higher the percentage of neurochemicals, the better the mood.
3) Calms Anxiety on Planes
Do you often break out in a cold sweat while flying? Do you often feel nervous and jittery for no reason on airplanes?
Flying may be a thrill experience for some. However, for some, it can be a real-life struggle. Aerophobia is a serious disorder. It is difficult to manage anxiety attacks even on the ground. Imagine how challenging it can be to calm your nerves when flying above the clouds.
Whether you are aerophobic or suffering from a different mental health condition, there are many ways to manage flying anxiety such as listening to music, reading books, and doing deep breathing exercises. However, having an Emotional Support Animal is an effective way to deal with aerophobia (fear of flying).
This is the reason why most airlines allow passengers to travel with an ESA. During the flight, an ESA can help you deal with anxiety, making your flying journey seamless and comfortable.
4) Works in Conjunction with Other Treatments
With a sudden rise in the number of people with mental disabilities, the need for using ESAs in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is increasing day by day. Nowadays, many therapists and physicians recommend animal therapy or the support of an ESA in conjunction with other treatments to fight mental illness.
This approach is somewhat similar to advising patients to eat healthily and rest properly to avoid mental issues like depression or anxiety
ESAs can help patients counter loneliness and feel safe during highly stressful events. Please note that there is emotional safety and comfort when incorporating an ESA into your treatment plan.
5) Provides Unconditional Love and Care
Animals are known to provide unconditional love and support to people struggling with mental issues like anxiety, grief, and panic attacks. The unconditional love and affection of ESAs can make people feel valued, and loved, and help them to get over bad emotional experiences. Feeling loved and happy can positively change a person’s overall mental health.
In the End…
Apart from the above, an Emotional Support Animal can help you stabilize intense emotions and deal with emotional distress. Whether you are a teen at a risk for depression or a psychiatric patient, any person suffering from emotional turmoil can benefit the most from the companionship of an ESA.
Hopefully, now you are one step closer to bringing a new friend home! Any animal can qualify to be an ESA with appropriate paperwork and registration. It is important to note that the animal must be approved and prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.
If you want to get an emotional support animal letter, approach My ESA Doctor to get an online ESA letter from a highly qualified medical health expert. For further information, read: How to Get an ESA Letter From a Licensed Mental Health Physician?