Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals are not just regular pets. They have a very important role to play in the lives of those who are diagnosed with mental health disorders. Curious about what they do? Feel free to read on!

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems (learn more from this article). They are also very helpful to people with learning disorders such as dyslexia as well as attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder. The companionship they offer has proven to be very beneficial in many ways.

woman kissing dog beach

What do ESAs do?

An ESA can offer support in many aspects of your well-being. Here are just some of the things an emotional support animal can do that will make a positive impact on your mental, physical, and social life.

  1. They make you feel better
    Petting your ESA can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels which can give you a feeling of calmness and warmth. Playing with your ESA is also a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts and emotions. Many have also reported an increase in their level of confidence after getting an ESA. Studies show that emotional support animals encourage the brain to release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These neurochemicals are also referred to as the “happy hormones” and they are what the mind
    needs to feel joy.
  2. woman walking with dog

  3. Promotes exercise
    When you are taking your dog out for a walk, you are also getting yourself some exercise. Not only is it a good muscle workout. It is also a great way to clear your body and mind of negative energy. Research shows that walking can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exposure to natural light has also been said to be an instant mood booster. It reduces mental fatigue and stress levels.
  4. Instill a sense of purpose
    Having the responsibility to care for an ESA can give more meaning to your everyday life. For instance, waking up in the morning to feed or walk your animal companion can help you get started on your day. Knowing that someone out there needs you can actually make you feel good. Having a list of things to do for your emotional support animal can also provide more structure to your day.
  5. Make you feel less alone
    The companionship an ESA can offer can strengthen your support system. If you are feeling lonely, having somebody around can reduce these feelings of isolation. It shows that even a quiet presence in the room can make you feel better.
  6. Make you more social
    Having an ESA gives you the perfect reason to go out and meet other people. If you have an emotional support dog, for example, you will have to go to the dog park at some point and meet other pooch parents. You can also participate in online forums with other ESA owners to talk about your experiences. You get plenty of chances to meet friends and widen your network!
  7. Decrease symptoms
    Emotional support animals work wonders on patients with trauma-related disorders. Research has proven the effectivity of ESAs when it comes to reducing the occurrence of panic attacks on people struggling from GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Individuals diagnosed with PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder also experienced fewer nightmares and flashbacks after getting an ESA.

How to get an ESA letter

In order to be legitimate, you have to show proof that your emotional support animal is prescribed by your therapist. There are two ways to acquire an ESA letter:

  1. In-person
    Not all people are qualified to have an ESA. First, you have to see a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or clinical psychologist for an evaluation of your mental health status. If your LMHP or Licensed Mental Health Professional finds that an ESA can help you with your condition, he or she can make it part of your treatment plan. You can then ask for an ESA letter to show for when you need to travel by air. This piece of document is also required for you to be accommodated in a no-pets-allowed establishment.
  2. Online
    Yes, you can now acquire an ESA letter online! We at Certapet can connect you to a licensed mental health professional who will help determine if an ESA is something that will benefit you. All you have to do is take a five-minute initial assessment for free. Once you are done with the pre-screening, you can now speak to one of our reliable therapists. Don’t worry! This evaluation is very laidback and lasts for about 15 minutes. The decision about whether or not you qualify for an ESA will be made after your consultation. Once approved, you can immediately obtain a pdf copy of your ESA letter. An official copy of the document will also be mailed to you within the week. It’s cheap and there is no need to pay for expensive in-
    person therapy!

Laws concerning ESAs

There are a couple of laws that attach certain rights and privileges to ESA owners:

  • Air Carrier Access Act
    Thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act, emotional support animals are now allowed to go on board the plane free of charge. You only need to show an ESA letter signed by your therapist. However, keep in mind that there are certain limitations concerning animal type, breed, and size depending on the airline you are flying with.
  • Fair Housing Acts
    The Fair Housing Act allows emotional support animals the privilege to live with their humans in no-pets-allowed apartments. This is the same right granted to service animals. This Federal law overrules local state policies that discriminate certain dog breeds. Emotional support animals have a strong impact on the lives of people they live with. They are an important component of one’s treatment plan and they have been scientifically proven to be effective.

If you think an ESA can help make your life better, ask a licensed
mental health professional for more details. We would also be happy to answer your questions if you have any!

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