Emotional support animals are not just regular pets. They have a very important role to play in the lives of those who are diagnosed with mental health disorders. Curious about what they do? Feel free to read on!
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to people with mental disorders. These are usually those suffering from depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems.
They are also very helpful to people with learning disorders such as dyslexia. Those with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder may also benefit from them. The companionship they offer has proven to be very beneficial in many ways.
What do ESAs do?
An ESA can offer support in many aspects of your well-being. Here are just some of the things an emotional support animal can do that will make a positive impact on your mental, physical, and social life.
1. They make you feel better
Petting your ESA can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels. That is because they can give you a feeling of calmness and warmth. Playing with them is also a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts and emotions.
Many have also reported an increase in their level of confidence after getting an ESA. Studies show that emotional support animals encourage the brain to release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These neurochemicals are also referred to as the “happy hormones”, which we need to feel joy.
2. Promotes exercise
When you are taking your dog out for a walk, you are also getting yourself some exercise. Not only is it a good muscle workout, it’s also a great way to clear your body and mind of negative energy. Research shows that walking can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exposure to natural light has also been said to be an instant mood booster. It reduces mental fatigue and stress levels.
3. Instill a sense of purpose
Having the responsibility to care for an ESA can give more meaning to your everyday life. For instance, waking up in the morning to feed or walk your animal companion can help you get started on your day.
Knowing that someone out there needs you can actually make you feel good. Having a list of things to do for your emotional support animal can also provide more structure to your day.
4. Make you feel less alone
The companionship an ESA can offer can strengthen your support system. If you are feeling lonely, having somebody around can reduce these feelings of isolation. It shows that even a quiet presence in the room can make you feel better.
5. Make you more social
Having an ESA gives you the perfect reason to go out and meet other people. If you have an emotional support dog, for example, you will have to go to the dog park at some point. Once there, you can meet other pooch parents.
You can also participate in online forums with other ESA owners to talk about your experiences. You get plenty of chances to meet friends and widen your network!
6. Decrease symptoms
Emotional support animals work wonders on patients with trauma-related disorders. Research has proven the effectiveness of ESAs in reducing the occurrence of panic attacks for those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also experienced fewer nightmares and flashbacks after getting an ESA.
How to get an ESA letter
In order to be legitimate, you have to show proof that your emotional support animal is prescribed by your therapist. There are two ways to acquire an ESA letter.
Not all people are qualified to have an ESA. It depends upon your meantal health status. First, you have to see a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or clinical psychologist for an evaluation.
Only a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) can determine if an ESA can be helpful with your condition. Then he or she can make it a part of your treatment plan.
Yes, you can now acquire an ESA letter online! We at Certapet can connect you to a licensed mental health professional who will help determine if an ESA is something that will benefit you.
All you have to do is take a five-minute initial assessment for free. Once you are done with the pre-screening, you can now speak to one of our reliable therapists.
Don’t worry! This evaluation is very laid back and lasts for about 15 minutes only. The decision about whether or not you qualify for an ESA will be made after your consultation.
Once approved, you can immediately obtain a pdf copy of your ESA letter. An official copy of the document will also be mailed to you within the week. Moreover, it’s cheap and there is no need to pay for expensive in-person therapy!
Laws concerning ESAs
There are a couple of laws that attach certain rights and privileges to ESA owners:
Air Carrier Access Act
Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, ESAs are now allowed to go on board the plane free of charge. You only need to show an ESA letter signed by your therapist.
However, keep in mind that there are certain limitations. These concern animal type, breed, and size depending on the airline you are flying with.
Fair Housing Acts
The Fair Housing Act allows emotional support animals the privilege to live with their humans in no-pets-allowed apartments. This is the same right granted to service animals. This Federal law overrules local state policies that discriminate certain dog breeds.
Emotional support animals have a strong impact on the lives of people they live with. They are an important component of one’s treatment plan and they have been scientifically proven to be effective.
If you think an ESA can help make your life better, ask a licensed mental health professional for more details. They would be happy to answer your questions if you have any!