About one in five American adults live with mental health issues. They can range from minor to severe and impact all aspects of life.
Even a mild anxiety disorder may keep people home from work or prevent them from enjoying things that they love. An ESA can provide relief, comfort, and joy for many people suffering from mental illness.
What is an ESA? Read on to learn more!
What Is an ESA?
ESA stands for an emotional support animal. As the name suggests, people use animals to help ease symptoms of mental illness and to improve their lives when living with a disability.
These animals do not need to go through intense special training like service pets. They can complete a short certification and must simply stay with the owner without roaming or lasing out in any way.
How Pets and Mental Health Fit Together
ESAs provide emotional support for people suffering from conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, learning disabilities, chronic stress, and more. Animals of any type tend to promote positive mental health benefits.
Research shows that 15 minutes of petting a dog lowers blood pressure by 10%. Animal contact also releases feel-good chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, and reduces cortisol levels.
This lowers stress, eases anxiety, and promotes happiness. Plus, you cannot feel lonely when you are not alone.
How to Qualify for Pet Therapy
In order to qualify for emotional support animals, people must see a doctor. You cannot simply deem your pet an ESA and start bringing them places.
First, consider your emotional state. Are you going through something in life that therapy and self-help simply do not fix?
If so, see a therapist and talk with your doctor. You will need a medical professional to write you an ESA letter to qualify.
These letters expire after a year. So, at the end of each year, you should see your doctor for a reassessment and get another letter if necessary.
When you decide to get an animal for emotional support, keep in mind that you are taking on a living creature that needs love and care. You cannot simply use them when you need them and then leave them to their own devices.
Sometimes the same conditions that cause a person to need an ESA also lead to emotional burnout. This can make caring for a pet difficult.
They need daily food, love, and attention. They also require veterinarian care like vaccines and sick visits if they fall ill.
Make sure that you can properly care for a pet before taking an emotional support animal into your home. If you cannot, look into other options that still connect you with an ESA, like equine assisted psychotherapy.
Animals Make Life Better
What is an ESA? It is a living companion that gives you the opportunity to enjoy life.
Animals offer unconditional love and allow people the opportunity to take care of something special in their hearts. This keeps loneliness from taking over and builds a sense of self-efficacy.
Keeping yourself and your animal companion healthy is important. Are you looking for ways to stay fit with your ESA? Find tips on our health and fitness page!