We all suffer from the blues from time-to-time, but when those down moods turn into something more, you may be suffering from depression.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 350 million people suffer from this condition worldwide. Depression is also among the leading causes of most mental disabilities.
In this post, we will explore depression, the different types of depression, its symptoms and how individuals with this condition may benefit from an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
What is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is defined as a serious, yet common mental illness that negatively affects the way you think, feel and act. They go on to state that individuals that suffer from depression will also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, and may also experience profound feelings of sadness.
Types of Depression
There are many types of depression. These include;
- Major Depressive Disorder – this is characterized by the individual feeling sad, hopeless, lacking focus and losing interest in daily activities. This must go on for at least two weeks to be considered MDD.
- Postpartum Depression – after the birth of a baby some women experience depression which is thought to be caused by a dip in hormone levels.
- Seasonal Depression – also known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) this condition affects between 3% to 5% of Canadians. SAD is brought on by the loss of daylight in the Fall and Winter months.
- Bereavement – the loss of a loved one can sometimes lead to depression.
How Do I Know If I Have Depression?
There are several symptoms associated with depression. These conditions can affect you emotionally, physically, cognitively and behaviorally. Note, these symptoms can vary from person-to-person and even gender-to-gender.
Emotional Symptoms of Depression
- Feelings of sadness
- Not liking oneself
- Feeling like life is not worth living
- Guilt for dragging others down
Physical Symptoms of Depression
- Lack of appetite or weight gain
- Lack of energy
- Back pain
- Stomach upset/pain
- Sleeplessness/waking up in the middle of the night
- Aching joints
- Feeling like always in slow motion
Cognitive Symptoms of Depression
- Can’t make decisions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thinking in “slow motion” or fuzzy thinking
- Feelings of not performing well at work
Behavioral Symptoms of Depression
- Restlessness and feeling on edge
- Loss of intimacy with a partner
- No interest in moving from couch or bed
What is an ESA & Can I Benefit From Having One?
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is any species of animal that brings emotional comfort, support and unconditional love to an individual. These animals are not necessarily trained to provide a service, but they do provide emotional support to their owners. Having a pet to take care of can help a person snap out of a negative thought pattern.
Many mental health professionals are now prescribing an ESA for their patients that suffer from an emotional or mental disability; this includes depression.
Having an Emotional Support Animal is beneficial in several ways. These include;
- Giving the person a feeling of purpose and something to live for
- Providing companionship
- Helping the person engage with others
- Helping the individual get outside of their negative thoughts
- Having someone to talk to
- The reduction or non-usage of medications
How Can I Make My ESA Legitimate?
- You must be under the care of a mental health professional or medical doctor for your depression
- You are required to obtain a letter from your mental health professional stating your need for the ESA
- The letter must be on the therapist’s official letterhead
- The letter must also include the doctor’s license number, where that license was issued and the date of issue
To certify your Emotional Support Animal, you can do this process via face to face therapy or online. To qualify for an ESA letter online, you may click on the image below.
What Rights Does My ESA Have?
Once your ESA is certified, you do have rights. These include being allowed into “no pets'” policy housing and also into the cabin of the aircraft with your ESA at no additional cost.
Be sure to have a copy of your original ESA letter and the certification certificate available when applying for housing with your ESA and for booking a flight. The landlord, owner or manager of a rental unit and the security check at the airport will want to verify that your ESA is legit.
Depression & Emotional Support Animals
There is no shame in suffering from depression. The real shame is suffering from this mental issue and not seeking help.
If you think you may have a form of depression, ask your doctor for a treatment plan. If this includes having an emotional support animal, find one that is right for you, then get back on the path to healthy living again.
See if you qualify for an emotional support animal below.
Get the Love and Support you deserve.