Studies show that Emotional Support Animals can provide a comforting presence to handlers that suffer from a variety of mental health issues. As knowledge regarding the benefits of using ESAs grows, therapists may become more likely to recommend an Emotional Support Animal to patients who suffer from;

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Autism
  • Agoraphobia (fear of being outside of the home)
  • Aerophobia (fear of flying)
  • Stress-induced situations
  • Social phobia

To work with a licensed health professional to see if you qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, click below.

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Research shows that animal companionship can calm us

Just being around an animal can provide companionship and an emotional boost. For instance, dogs have lived for millennia alongside human beings. The assimilation of dogs into the human world has created an emotional evolution in which their mere presence in our lives can change our physiological responses

People can take advantage of this special human-animal bond by utilizing Emotional Support Animals to provide comfort and relief from symptoms of mental illness or emotional distress. The following mental health issues are only a few of many issues that an Emotional Support Animal can assist with.

Anxiety

An Emotional Support Animal can ease the symptoms of anxiety, allowing an individual to perform tasks they could not do before.

ESAs also assist people with situational anxieties by providing comfort in times of stress. For instance, people with phobias can face their fears or enter new environments when accompanied by their Emotional Support Animal. 

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in America today. Severe anxiety can become debilitating. If left untreated, it can negatively impact a person’s psychological and physical health. 

ESA helps to overcome anxiety
ESAs may help to overcome anxiety.

Much of what causes anxiety can be a miscommunication between the brain and the body. The brain mistakenly gauges perceived danger, releasing “fight or flight” chemicals in the body, and the body reacts by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Studies have shown Emotional Support Animals can be effective at managing the physical signs of anxiety.

The calming effect of an Emotional Support Animal can help individuals with anxiety improve their daily life. Increased focus, less agitation during stressful interactions, and slowing down racing thoughts are among the benefits. An ESA can provide a sense of consistency and stability, allowing their handlers to tackle new situations and complete their responsibilities. 

Depression

An Emotional Support Animal can raise levels of the hormone oxytocin and dopamine, which are responsible for creating feelings of bonding and well-being. This emotional boost can provide the energy to maintain a healthy quality of life. 

The attention and affection that an animal provides can lift anyone’s mood. For a person with depression, it may even save their life!

Woman with depression sitting with emotional support dog.
ESAs may improve mental health in people who suffer from depression.

When experiencing depression, people can sometimes isolate themselves and retreat into their worlds. An ESA can help expose them to the outside environment, encouraging their handlers to socialize and interact with others.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

An Emotional Support Animal can provide someone with PTSD the support they need to work through their emotions. The constant presence of an animal, and the security an animal provides, can help enable a person with PTSD to manage their symptoms and integrate themselves back into their environment. 

Traumatic events can have a lifelong impact on a person’s life. A person diagnosed with PTSD may experience disturbing flashbacks, severe anxiety or depression, hyper-vigilance, or heightened aggression. PTSD can negatively influence a person’s relationships, work and sense of security. 

Dogs and other animals can improve mental health in people who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
ESAs can improve mental health in people who suffer from PTSD.

People with PTSD can also experience insomnia or poor sleep practices. Their hyper-vigilant state may keep them from getting enough sleep. In the long run, insomnia can cause poor cognitive functioning and behavioral changes. An Emotional Support Animal can provide a sense of security during sleeping hours, enabling handlers with PTSD to rest.

Autism 

People, especially children, with autism may have difficulty managing their emotions. However, autistic children who have pets or ESAs may have fewer emotional outbursts. The constant presence of an Emotional Support Animal, and the ability for the animal to provide a solid source of support in the form of companionship and tactile feedback, may help an autistic child to tolerate challenging situations and tasks. 

Autistic children benefit from the presence of an ESA
Autistic children may benefit from the presence of an ESA.

Many autistic children have sensory integration and social deficits, which Emotional Support Animals, especially dogs, can assist in overcoming. By sharing the same experiences as the child, the animal may become a living sensory integration tool. This shared experience may allow the autistic child to filter senses through the animal before fully integrating themselves in something that would otherwise be overwhelming. 

Finding Support

An Emotional Support Animal is more than just a pet; they can help a person heal from emotional pain and injuries. If you or a loved one is experiencing emotional or mental concerns that may benefit from an ESA, consult your licensed therapist to see if an Emotional Support Animal is right for you. If you do not have an existing therapist or are having trouble finding one, we can help connect you to a licensed professional at the link below.

Three easy steps to get an ESA Letter with ESA Doctors
If the LMHP you are working with is not familiar with ESA regulations, you may qualify for an ESA letter from a LMHP licensed in WA. Press on the button below to apply
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