Anxiety disorders are common among Americans. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America says that the condition affects about 40 million American adults every year.
Certain medications can help ease anxiety symptoms, but they cause unpleasant side-effects. However, research says that interactions with animals can provide long-term improvement in mental health. Animal-assisted therapy is proven helpful for common mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, etc.
What Are Emotional Support Animals?
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a kind of animal, which provides comfort to help their owner deal with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, etc. Since animal-assisted therapy is proven helpful in improving health, more psychiatrists and psychologists are considering it as an important part of treatment plans. The goal is to provide patients with companionship to help them deal with negative thoughts, excessive worrying, and fear.
Many confuse emotional support animals with service animals. However, both are different. Service animals are trained to perform certain tasks for individuals with disabilities. While ESAs provide emotional support to help them deal with mental, emotional, or psychological disabilities.
You can make your pet your ESA. For that, you need to get an emotional support animal letter from a therapist. We will discuss this later in the post.
What’s Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
The animal-assisted therapy traces its roots back to the 1940s when an army corporal brought his pet to the hospital for cheering up soldiers. Since then, people are living with animals to receive various health benefits.
The therapy involves using animals as a part of a treatment for mental illness and can help in boosting mood, reducing fear and stress.
According to the American Humane Association, animal-assisted therapy is defined as “a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical health-care treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interaction.”
Research says that animal-assisted therapy can help people cope with illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental health conditions.
How Does Pet Therapy Work For Anxiety Sufferers?
Animals provide comfort & a sense of calm, thus helping their owners deal with stressful situations. Research says that developing a bond with an animal can help you stabilize your emotions, thus fighting loneliness, negative thoughts, fear, etc.
According to the ADAA, living with a pet provides many benefits such as companionship, love, and affection. There’s no surprise that the majority of pet owners consider their pets as family members.
There are several anxiety-inducing situations where emotional support animals can help. For instance, when flying on an airplane, you may experience fear and anxiety. However, flying with your companion animal ensures you a safe, worry-free journey.
The Human Bond Research Institute and Cohen Research Group conducted an online survey. It concluded that 74 percent of pet owners agree that they improved mental health from pet ownership. Moreover, 75 percent of pet owners said that a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.
Let’s look at some other studies supporting the pet for anxiety.
In 1998, a study published in Psychiatric Services examined the effects of a single session of animal-assisted therapy on 230 hospitalized psychiatric patients. Researchers noted that the AAT helped reduce anxiety levels of participants with different psychiatric diagnoses.
According to a study by the CDC, a pet dog can help ease anxiety in children. In the study, 643 people participated, and about half of them had pet dogs at home. Researchers analyzed the participants’ BMI, screen time, physical activity, and anxiety levels. They noted that 21 percent of the children who didn’t have pets at home were found positive in the anxiety test. However, only 12 percent of children with dogs had anxiety.
Therefore, pets have a significant effect on managing stress and anxiety in children. It’s true that children who grew with animals are more likely to become healthy & happy teens.
Also Read- 10 Reasons Why You Should Own a Pet?
Pet therapy can help in reducing social anxiety disorder. Research says that spending time with animals increases your oxytocin levels, thus lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Oxytocin, also called “cuddle hormone”, is released with human-animal interactions.
Benefits of Getting an ESA Letter
Pet therapy can help individuals with mental disabilities to manage their symptoms. However, in the United States, pet owners face various problems when finding rental apartments or flying with their support animals. Registering your pet as an emotional support animal allows you to enjoy the benefits of pet therapy worry-free. The two major advantages of getting an ESA letter are-
Live With Your ESA
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), individuals with mental disabilities can live with their emotional support animals. However, they don’t have to pay any pet deposits for that. Homeowners may ask tenants for emotional support animal letters for verification purposes, but can’t deny housing.
Fly With Your ESA
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), passengers with mental disabilities can fly with their ESAs without paying extra pet travel fees. Different airlines have different rules and regulations for ESA travel. The common ones are—notifying the airline about ESA travel at least 48 hours prior to travel and submitting an ESA letter & a veterinary form.
How to Register an Emotional Support Animal Phoenix?
To get an emotional support animal letter, you must be diagnosed with one or more mental disabilities. Here’s the list of ESA qualifying conditions-
- Age-related cognitive decline
- Bipolar Disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic attacks
- Separation anxiety
However, you need to talk to a licensed mental health professional who will evaluate your eligibility for an ESA. The professional may ask you a few questions about your condition, medications you are taking, etc. After you qualify, you will get your emotional support animal letter.
Since it’s not safe to visit a therapist physically amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you can opt to talk to a professional online through telemedicine technology. The process is-
- Sign up an account
- See a therapist online through HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your ESA letter in PDF format via email instantly
For anxiety patients, it’s difficult to concentrate on work, sleep properly, and perform daily tasks. Certain medications can help manage anxiety symptoms, but they can cause unpleasant side-effects.
Animals are real medicines, and they provide love and comfort, thus boosting mood and reducing stress levels. Research says that pet therapy is effective in reducing anxiety without causing any side-effects. The CDC says that animals can help ease anxiety in children. Children who have pets at home grow healthy.
To avail ESA housing and travel benefits, you need to register your pet as an emotional support animal Phoenix. Talk to a therapist to get your ESA letter online today.