General, Psychological and Emotional Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Are you confused between having and not having an emotional support animal? Our vote is definitely to have it. You should always prefer having an emotional support animal because it helps with your mental health, psychological issues, and personality grooming. In addition, there are several other benefits of an emotional support animal.

People have different kinds of pets as their emotional support animals. These commonly include cats, dogs, fish, birds, hamsters, pigs, turtles, horses, snakes, etc.

But, not every pet is an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals, ESAs, make their owner worthy of certain privileges. For this purpose, the owners of ESAs have to get emotional support letters.

Read the article below to know the benefits of certifying your dog as an emotional support animal. Of course, you can register any other pet that comforts you also.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal behaves as a therapist to people who need emotional or psychological help. These animals are certified by mental health professionals for this purpose. Various studies have reported the benefits of ESAs in relieving people’s stress and anxiety.

ESAs are used by or recommended to people suffering from any mental, psychological, emotional, or personality disorder. These animals do not judge the owners. Thus the owners are more open to them. This helps them cope with the symptoms of their illness in a better way.

In addition to this, the emotional support animals can be trained, whereas some are naturally comforting animals. These animals can easily live and travel with their owners.

How is an Emotional Support Animal Different from a Service Animal?

People with physical disabilities use service animals. Whereas ESAs are used by people who need emotional support for a mental illness.

The responsibility of the service animals is to do the tasks for their owners. Their owners can not manage some of their routine tasks themselves. These animals help their owners with daily chores. They are also called assistance animals.

ESAs do not do their owners’ tasks. Rather, they motivate their owners and support them emotionally and psychologically. They help in relieving the symptoms of the mental illness the owner is suffering from.

How is an Emotional Support Animal Different from a Psychiatric Animal?

A psychiatric animal is a kind of service dog. Its function is to perform the role of the therapist. Mental health professionals train them to detect the patients’ symptoms and perform certain tasks to relieve them.

These animals are specifically trained to treat the patients. This may seem similar to the function of an emotional support animal but is not.

An emotional support animal can be any animal that the owner feels comfortable with. Psychiatric animals are specifically trained animals by healthcare professionals. They most commonly include dogs.

The ESAs only provide emotional support generally, but the psychiatric animal has to play a role in the patient’s treatment. So, an ESA may just cuddle with the owner when they are depressed. A psychiatric animal will remind them to take their prescribed medication.

General Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Some generally reported benefits of ESAs are as following:

  • People with emotional support animals visit their psychiatrists thirty percent less than the people without them. They play a role in the mental and physical well-being of their owners.
  • Playtime with pets on a daily basis makes the owners more relaxed and calm. This is because it causes the release of dopamine and serotonin, the happy hormones.
  • All emotional support animals promote physical activity in their owners because they play and take care of them. Some animals, in particular, promote more outdoor activities. For instance, dogs promote walking in the parks.
  • According to a study, people who have suffered from a heart attack live longer when they have an emotional support animal.
  • Since they help reduce stress, emotional support animals help people with blood pressure issues.
  • There are also several benefits of an emotional support animal in college. Such animals can support the students who face difficulty fitting in or have faced bullying in any way.

Benefits of Psychological Association with an ESA

People having pets and ESAs form a strong psychological and emotional bond with them. This psychological association between them may help the owner in the following ways:

  • ESAs fill in the gap for the people who have faced abandonment from family members or other social contacts.
  • These animals have to be taken care of. When the owners of ESAs take good care of their animals, they get a sense of achievement.
  • People facing mental health issues are not able to enjoy themselves socially. ESAs help them have fun in their comfortable environment.

Social Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals help their owners socially also. Some of their social benefits are as follows:

  • Emotional support animals do not judge their owners. So they offer unlimited love and support to their owners. This helps to boost their self-esteem.
  • ESAs help their owners to socialize with people. This is because ESAs make their owners confident and more cheery.
  • Another benefit of ESA is that they give a sense of purpose. Every morning their owners get up and have something to do. They have proper routines and are not roaming around aimlessly.
  • ESAs also make their owners more active. It also includes outdoor activities. It is good for both their physical and mental well-being.

Role of Emotional Support Animals in Curing Mental Health Issues

As mentioned earlier, emotional support animals help their owners to overcome their mental illnesses. They do this in the following ways:

  • Vanishes the Feeling of Loneliness: People with psychological disturbance are lonely people. Having an emotional support animal around all the time helps to convert their isolation into companionship.
  • Reduction in Symptoms: ESAs reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and boost confidence. All these are some of the major causes of mental health issues. So, ESAs help in reducing the symptoms of any illness that their owner is suffering from.
  • Polishes Sensory and Motor Activity: Psychological patients sometimes lose a sense of their surroundings. They do not perceive the details of their surroundings actively.

Playing with ESAs and perceiving their emotions through their body language makes their owners more alert and mindful. This polishes their sensory and motor skills.

How to Get an ESA Letter?

The benefits of a certified emotional support animal are far more than a usual pet. People with mental, emotional, or psychological health issues can get an ESA letter from the following two sources:

1. ESA Letter from an Online Service

Multiple online services can provide an ESA letter, provided, the online service has a certified therapist that can authorize the letter. Also, make sure that the service provider inquires about your symptoms and some details about your illness. This is because a certified therapist will never authorize your need for an ESA without knowing your symptoms.

ESA Letter from a Mental Health Professional

You can also take an ESA letter from any mental health professional, therapist, or psychiatrist available nearby. Make sure that the healthcare professional is certified and has an ID.

Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal?

The commonly known psychological issues are depression and anxiety. However, there is a range of other disorders and illnesses related to mental health. Some of these include:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Social Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • OCD
  • Depression
  • Various types of Phobias
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Stress-Induced Illnesses
  • Personality Disorders

There are many other such illnesses also. Anyone suffering from these or other mental or emotional disturbances can qualify for an emotional support animal. A verification of this illness and its symptoms will be done by the therapist. The same therapist will give you an emotional support animal letter.

Laws and Regulations for Emotional Support Animals and their Owners

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a “Fair Housing Amendments Act.” It explains the housing and settlement of ESAs. ESA owners can keep their ESAs with them at any place. No landlord can reject them or ask for any additional charges.

If the ESA owners want to take their animals to social gatherings and setups, they can do so. This federal law is governed by the “American with Disabilities Act” (ADA).

As far as traveling is concerned, the rules are prescribed by the Air Carrier Access Act. It previously stated that ESAs could be carried with their owners in the flights along with the passenger. There were no additional charges for that also.

However, the new rules now state that the animals have to travel along with other pets. Some charges also have to be paid by the owner.

An emotional support dog, cat, bird, or any other animal can help you in all the ways mentioned above and more. They offer several mental health benefits and help people with any kind of mental disability or other mental health conditions. In addition, ESAs provide love and support to their owners without any conditions.

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