How Can an Emotional Support Animal Help with Depression?

Emotional Support Animals, by definition, aim to provide comfort and companionship to alleviate mental health issues by their presence, working on an individual scale. Studies have shown some of the benefits of companion pets. According to one study, conducted a study where college students where observed in their cardiovascular behavior in their interaction with dogs. The results of that study showed that the subjects blood pressures were lowest during their interactions with dogs, their heart rates were lower and higher, depending on the individual, as touch has become a significant factor of those results, implying positive effects of the overall human interaction with animals.

Another study showed that overall, pets do provide benefits to those with mental health conditions, even though research is still required to give further the extent of that relationship and how means of implementing those results can be used to aid those with mental health issues. According to the results of that study, there were significant findings for the benefits of canine companionship for military veterans with PTSD. This also included the effects on reducing feelings of loneliness, depression, worry and irritability, and increased feelings of calmness. The study specifically noted the direct impact of pets on depression and mood could be shown through close contact and stroking.

What Emotional Support Animals Can Offer if You’re Depressed

emotional support dog hugging

Studies show that an animal can benefit a person suffering from depression. An ESA requires an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

Overall, the general census is that animals can have an overall effect on human behavior and mood, even while further studies must be made to further prove this connection and how it forms. ESAs nevertheless can offer numerous benefits to people with depression, such as:

  1. Comfort and companionship. ESAs can help break the cycle of depression by offering their presence as a source of comfort in cases of loneliness. For those who feel alone during depression, ESAs can aid in treating depression through a kind of companionship like no other.
  2. A regular schedule. ESAs give their owners a sense of responsibility and routine. Getting up in the morning to feed, walk, and care for your ESA can help bring up your mood throughout the day.
  3. A sense of calm. Studies have shown that petting an animal can improve overall mood, by helping the person feel calm and relaxed. Owning an ESA can offer you just that.
  4. Physical activity. Studies have shown that those who own pets get more exercise than those who do not own pets. Exercise is also an effective way of managing depression by keeping the body moving.
  5. Social time.  Depression can lead to isolation. ESAs help brings a safe space for those wishing to interact with people without feeling anxious over the interaction itself. Having pets bring comfort and companionship throughout socializing and can make socializing easier.

Steps to getting an Emotional Support Animal for your depression:

Emotional Support Animals can be a great way to deter depression through physical activity, emotional comfort, and improved socialization. If you’re looking towards getting an emotional support animal for your depression, then here are some of the steps that you can take in doing so:


  1. Choose the right animal. It’s essential to decide on how much time, energy, and money you have for an ESA because while they can be licensed professional helpers, they are also animals that have needs such as food, water, and exercise. For instance, dogs are excellent companions but are also high-maintenance. If you have limited time due to a schedule or physical problems alongside your depression, animals such as cats are typically lower-maintenance and can better aid you in your depression.
  2. Qualify your ESA with a licensed mental health professional. While training from organizations and professional trainers can provide training programs for your ESA, getting an official ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional will be able to help you in the long run and give you a variety of access, such as air travel and applying for a rental apartment/condo.
  3. Properly use your ESA Letter by knowing your ESA rights. Emotional support animals by federal law do not have direct access to public spaces, depending on the state you reside in. However, ESA’s do have rights under the Air Carrier Access Act and The Fair Housing Act so that you can live and travel with your ESA without paying additional pet fees. By understanding the difference between an ESA, service animal, and therapy animal, you’ll be able to make the best decisions in regards to your animal and what powers you have throughout life situations.

Qualify for Your ESA Letter Today!


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About the Author:
The ESA Doctors writing team has extensive experience relating to disability and housing laws, mental health, animal training, and pet health. Each article is fact checked and reviewed by multiple members of our team. Many of the writers have emotional support animals and speak from real life experiences.

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  1. KarolRae Kolasa August 26, 2020 at 2:35 am - Reply

    I just lost my dog of 13 years. A yorkie poo. Im realizing that she aided in my depression diagnosis. I did not have her registered. I will be getting a new puppy in a few months. Can I register the puppy before I Fly home with him or her. Also, how do I do this legitimately. I would like to fly home from Florida to California, with the new puppy.

    • ESA Doctors September 10, 2020 at 4:46 am - Reply

      Sorry to hear about your loss. You do not “register” an ESA – you will need a recommendation letter from a licensed healthcare professional in order to qualify your pet as an ESA. We recommend reading this link:

  2. A December 6, 2019 at 6:49 am - Reply

    Having physical activity with your pet has helped a lot in getting out of the depression.Physical Activity is a very good way to get out the depression and cure the mental health.Exercise with an Emotional Support Animal is an effective way of managing depression by keeping the body moving.

  3. raisa lasenby May 3, 2019 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I have a question. my therapist have given me my letter for a esa and the reason why I need one. I stay in subsidized housing and the manager made me feel out paper work and to send it to theire corporate to see if they will approve it. now I thought once I got the letter it would be ok they know now I’m being told If they allow me. can they deny me if I have a official esa letter from my therapist? and my other question is if I went to a shelter to adopt and just showed them my letter do I still have to have permission from the landlord or does this bypass that.

    • ESA Doctors May 7, 2019 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Your ESA letter should qualify you for living with an emotional support animal. Your manager can take some time to make sure that your ESA letter is legitimate, but they should do it within a reasonable time frame. Each animal shelter has their own rules, so you would have to abide by their rules.

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