With one in four people in the USA alone suffering from an emotional condition, it comes as no surprise that emotional support animals have been rapidly growing in popularity.
Want to know more about what an ESA is, as well as whether or not your pet would qualify as one?
Here is everything you need to know…
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
An emotional support animal is an animal that is able to reduce the symptoms of an emotional or mental disorder, simply by just being there.
While dogs and cats tend to be the most common types of ESA, just about any animal can qualify, whether this may be a bird, a rabbit, or anything else.
IS AN ESA THE SAME AS A SERVICE DOG?
This is a common question that many have, but an ESA and a service dog are quite different…
A service dog is trained to do specific jobs that its owner cannot do due to a disability. This could be anything from providing mobility support to alerting an owner about an oncoming seizure.
On the other hand, an ESA isn’t trained to carry out specific tasks. Instead, the mere presence and companionship of an ESA is enough to help relieve symptoms and improve the life of the animal’s owner.
WHAT CAN AN ESA HELP WITH?
From depression to anxiety to PTSD, there are so many different emotional conditions that an ESA can help with.
How exactly do they help?
In a number of scientifically-proven ways, such as:
An increase in neurotransmitters – there are several studies that show how dogs are able to increase the amount of dopamine and other neurochemicals secreted by the brain. These promote feelings of happiness and love, reducing everything from depression to loneliness to anxiety. Simply looking into a dog’s eyes can have this effect, as can stroking them
Unconditional love and social support – emotional disorders can be isolating, but an ESA provides constant companionship and unconditional love. This can help a person feel more connected and improve their mental health
Stabilizes emotions – a person dealing with an emotional condition will encounter so many different contrasting emotions. However, the supportive and neutral state of an ESA helps to stabilize and reset human emotions
Reduces stress – stress goes hand-in-hand with emotional disorders, and this is something else an ESA can help with