There is no question that animals provide people with endless joy. But they can actually do much more than that. Emotional support animals (ESAs), also known as companion animals, help in keeping people who have a mental illness or emotional disorder safe. These service animals help in treating psychological symptoms by providing companionship.
There is no training required for your pet to qualify as an ESA. All you need is an emotional support animal letter from a physician to entitle your pet to live with you in specific housing units that restrict animals. An ESA letter also allows you to take your pet on a plane.
But how exactly can your pet help in improving your emotional and mental health?
Animals ease anxiety
Petting an animal can help people suffering from anxiety relax. ESAs provide comfort in a way that you get to reduce your anxiety level and elevate your mood. They also help improve people’s ability to cope with pain and deal with difficult situations. If you have experienced trauma, for example, a support animal is extremely beneficial.
Animals relieve stress
By spending even just five minutes with your pet companion, you can get to lower the level of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, in your body. There are even claims that pets might be more effective than humans when it comes to relieving stress. A 2015 study showed that the cortisol level of kids was lowest when presented with a dog rather than a friendly human or a toy.
Animals fight loneliness
Aside from taking away your stress, the therapeutic value animals bring can also relieve depressive symptoms. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety and living alone, having an ESA by your side will greatly help you combat feelings of loneliness.
Animals boost your immune system
Animals can also help improve your physical health. One study showed that petting animals could actually cause levels of antibodies to increase, resulting in a stronger immune system. Animal therapy can also lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
Animals provide you with unconditional love
Some individuals struggle to find unconditional love from other people, causing them to feel extremely lonely. But you can get this unconditional love and connection that you are looking for from your support animal. And sometimes, this love can be enough for a person struggling with a mental health condition to cope, recuperate and get back on his or her feet.
Also, it becomes an emotional reward on your part when you take care of an animal. By providing them with love and companionship in return, you feel a sense of purpose, which is helpful in alleviating your depressive symptoms.
Having an animal companion by your side can provide you with a lot more benefits than what you can imagine. Consult with a licensed physician to help you get approval for your emotional support animal to stay with you. Get the companionship, support and love that you need, especially in your most trying times, from your dear pet animal.