Any animal lover will say that their furry friends bring a lot of joy into their lives, and countless studies have linked animal ownership with reduced stress levels, more positive moods and mindsets, and even a longer life expectancy, too.
It’s no surprise, then, that recent years have seen the rise of emotional support animals, able to provide companionship, support, and assistance to many people suffering from a range of mental health issues or other disorders.
Despite the fact that emotional support animals (ESAs) are seeing a real surge in popularity at the moment, the concept of using animals for therapy and support goes back many years, to the days of philosophy and psychology experts of the past, including Dr. Sigmund Freud.
Still, even with decades of research and countless cases of people benefiting from their ESA, there’s still a lot of confusion out there about what kinds of benefits an ESA can provide. Read on to find out more…
Helping With Fears Of Flying
Once an emotional support animal has been registered, it can come along on flights with you, helping to massively reduce stress and fear levels in those who have phobias of flying or worries about being in a confined space for an extended period of time. For some people, an ESA can be the difference-maker between flying and not being able to travel at all, allowing them to visit friends and family or make urgent trips when needed.
An Answer To Loneliness
Loneliness is a common symptom of various mental health issues, including depression, as well as sometimes being an issue for people who might feel different or left out, such as those on the autism spectrum. An ESA can massively help with this, providing non-stop love and companionship and ensuring that its owner never feels entirely alone. Developing a loving bond with an animal can also help people nurture stronger bonds with other humans too.
Dealing With Depression
One of the main reasons why someone might be prescribed or recommended an emotional support animal is because they’re suffering from feelings of depression or anxiety. An ESA can assist with depression by providing love and companionship, and this has been proven on a scientific level, with studies showing that pet interaction can lead to the production of positive chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, relieving depressing feelings and lifting one’s mood.
Dealing With Difficult Emotions
There are some mental health conditions that may lead to people experiencing severe or extreme emotions in short spans of time, such as unexpected bursts of panic, fear, agitation, or sadness. Having an emotional support animal can help out during these difficult moments, providing some peace and companionship, and since animals like cats and dogs tend to be relatively peaceful or content most of the time, without such severe emotional changes, it can be easier to relax around them.
Another big part of having an emotional support animal around is being able to keep your mood swings in check and feel more balanced and settled in day to day life. Lots of research has shown that the presence of a furry friend can help people cope with stress and anxiety, as well as feeling more positive and content in their day to day lives. Having a registered ESA can, therefore, have a real impact on how you feel in general.
Another often overlooked benefit of emotional support animal ownership is the fact that they can encourage people to engage in more exercise and lead more physically active lifestyles. Playing with a cat or walking a dog is a profitable way to spend free time, not only helping you feel happier and distracting from negative emotions but also engaging your muscles and getting your body moving, which can also lead to plenty of positive effects for mental health patients.
Overall, it’s clear to see that owning an emotional support animal can come with some impressive, tangible benefits that really can make a verifiable difference in the lives of people who need these kinds of companions. What’s more, this list is far from exhaustive.
There are many other benefits that come along with owning an ESA that haven’t been listed here, and there are countless examples of these animals proving that they can bring peace, love, and happiness into the lives of those they meet, changing the world for the better and helping patients with a range of problems lead better lives.