We’ve all most likely experienced a shocking event in our lifetime. It may have left us shaken for a time, but then we were able to move on from it. However, there are those that cannot move forward and relive the event over and over for months, years or perhaps even a lifetime. This extreme reliving of the anxiety and fear of the event may be the cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In this post, we will discuss PTSD, some of the causes, the symptoms and how an emotional support animal can help with post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

It’s natural for our bodies to trigger the fight-or-flight response in a moment of danger or fear. This is the way we stay safe. However, when a person suffers from PTSD they may experience nightmares, flashbacks of the event and negative/scary thoughts that come “out of nowhere.” These people will often go to any length to avoid the things that remind them of the situation which could greatly impact the quality of their life. For example, if a person were involved in a serious car crash, they may avoid driving.

What Causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be brought on by any number of serious life events. This could be the death or injury of a loved one, someone caught in an abusive relationship, or those in dangerous jobs like the military, first responders, and even doctors and nurses.

Science isn’t entirely sure why some people can overcome trauma and others develop PTSD. But they do believe that the length of time the trauma continues, the number of other traumatic experiences in the person’s life, their reaction to this trauma and the kind of support that was made available to them all play a part in the development of PTSD.

ptsd survivor

Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can vary from person-to-person and the severity of the event they were involved in. Here are some common symptoms of PTSD categorized into four sections; re-experiencing, avoidance, reactivity/arousal, and cognitive/mood symptoms.

Re-experiencing Symptoms of PTSD

  • Flashbacks – reliving the trauma, which can include physical symptoms like a racing heart and sweating.
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Bad dreams/Nightmares

PTSD symptoms can arise from the person’s own thoughts and feelings or be triggered by outside influences.

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Staying away from – places, people, situations that are a reminder of the trauma
  • Avoiding – thoughts and feelings of the trauma

These symptoms may cause the person to avoid the areas, people etc. that remind them of the trauma, which can greatly impact the quality of their life.

Reactivity/Arousal Symptoms

  • Being easily startled
  • Insomnia
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Feeling on edge or tense

These symptoms are usually constant and can interfere with every aspect of the person’s life.

Cognitive/Mood Symptoms

  • Negativity – towards himself and the world
  • Trouble remembering – key features of the trauma
  • Loss of interest – hobbies or those things that once were pleasurable, work or school
  • Distorted feelings – guilt, blame etc.

These symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event has occurred.

Doctors can diagnose PTSD when the patient has had the following for at least one month;

  1. At least one re-experiencing symptom
  2. At least one avoidance symptom
  3. At least two of the reactive/arousal symptoms
  4. At least two of the cognitive/mood symptoms

ptsd emotional support animal


How an Emotional Support Animal Can Help With PTSD

An emotional support animal may be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Although an ESA can be of any species, those with PTSD oftentimes enlist the help of a canine companion.

Dogs are intuitive and can sense when their owner is becoming stressed or overwhelmed. Dogs are also;

  • Good companions and will not judge or criticize the person with PTSD
  • Fun and will help relieve stress and bring out those “feel-good” endorphins
  • Help engage the person in the “love” emotion making them feel less detached
  • Provide a need to get out of the house to spend time outdoors and meet new people

How to get an Emotional Support Animal Documentation



If you are suffering from PTSD you may find an emotional support animal is a good addition to the therapy program your doctor or mental health professional has put in place for you. If you decide to enlist the help of an ESA, be sure the type of animal you choose is right for you and doesn’t add additional stress to your life.

Having a good ESA can mean the difference between just living through PTSD and truly making a difference in your entire lifestyle and outlook on life.

If you suffer from PTSD, click to see if you qualify for an ESA below