In recent years there has been a steady rise in emotional support animals (ESA) as more and more people learn of the uplifting effects of having a furry friend, be it a dog, cat, rabbit, horse, or any other animal.
It’s a fact pet lovers can undoubtedly attest to how soothing the presence of an ESA can be. A recent study[Ma1] shows that over 90% of participants with ESAs felt less anxious, slept better, and were happier and more motivated in their daily lives. There is plenty more that makes these support animals incredibly worthwhile which we will explore in this article.
An ESA is any animal that provides companionship and helps people deal with several mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, certain phobias, and isolation. These animals are often recommended by psychiatrists to struggling patients and are allowed special public access to places where pets aren’t normally allowed. However, special access does require documentation such as a formal doctor’s letter, otherwise known as an ESA certification letter.
ESAs are incredibly helpful, especially in alleviating depressive symptoms in adults who find it more difficult to make time for self-healing. Around 29[Ma2] % of adults in Colorado have reported depression and anxiety symptoms in 2023. So, if you’re looking for an Emotional Support Animal Certification Letter in Colorado, American Service Pets are here to help you. Their certified letter ensures you have all the rights and privileges appropriate for an ESA owner.
While the same basic concept applies to both, ESAs differ from service animals. Often, both terms are often used interchangeably. According to Titles II and III of the ADA, service animals are specially trained for up to 2 years to assist people with physiological or psychological disabilities. Their duties include leading the deaf and blind, reminding owners to take medication, assisting with seizures, assisting with mobility disabilities, and preventing people with neurological disabilities from self-harm.
An ESA doesn’t have any formal training or formal duties. Their purpose is just to be around for whatever comfort their owner needs. So, an ESA doesn’t meet the ADA definition of a service animal. However, these animals are recognized as “more than pets” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
More and more people are starting to ease up on the idea of having animals for emotional support for the following reasons.
Stress reduction is the most common reason most people seek out an ESA. Studies have shown that simply engaging with a pet, being in their presence, and performing tasks like daily walks and games, can greatly reduce blood pressure and anxiety. High-energy animals, like dogs, also lead to increased outdoor activity, which further helps alleviate stress and improve moods.
ESAs help their owners find purpose in life. Often people battling with serious mental health problems, like depression, can find it difficult to accomplish basic tasks. They may get caught in an unhealthy cycle of self-neglect that can worsen their condition. In these cases, an ESA can help them gain a sense of responsibility and usefulness by doing small tasks like feeding, walking, and caring for their pet.
Something as simple as walking down the street and conversing with other dog owners or animal lovers can improve mental health; such a low-intensity social interaction can improve confidence and lighten bad moods.
Studies show that having a pet can improve the quality and quantity of social interactions with friends and family. Also, owners can manage themselves better in social gatherings due to increased confidence and a calmer, well-adjusted temperament.
Animals are intuitive and can physically intervene and distract their owner if they sense stress. An ESA will take action to redirect its owner’s focus by keeping close and displaying affectionate behavior. It can be very comforting for many people to have an ESA they can stroke and pet when they start feeling low. Redirecting negative thoughts towards a positive relationship in this manner can greatly help with their mental health in the short run and also allow them to build better emotional regulation skills for the long term.
The last and perhaps the most important benefit of ESAs is the absolute selfless, non-judgmental companionship they offer people. Often, individuals with depression with communication. They find it difficult to talk about their troubles and end up bottling negative emotions for fear of judgment and denied validation. ESAs are the perfect companion in such cases as they offer absolute acceptance and unconditional love. Their presence can create the best environment to allow owners to process their emotions instead of disregarding their mental health.
ESAs have become increasingly popular over the years and for a good reason. However, the best way to optimize your treatment plan with an ESA is to make sure your goals align with the right kinds of animal.
A mental health professional can better pinpoint your troubles and help you understand what kind of animal is best suited for you. Beyond that, you will need a letter from a qualified professional stating your need for an ESA to travel with your animal without restriction easily.
The best thing about ESAs is that you can choose whatever kind of animal you want; dog, cat, rabbit, rodent, or some other animal. So, there are several details you need to consider to find out exactly what kind of animal would suit your lifestyle.
For instance, if you travel a lot, a small animal that can travel on airplanes is much better than a large one. Similarly, if you are less keen on physical activity and prefer a low-key lifestyle, low-maintenance animals like cats favor high-maintenance animals like dogs.
Beyond that, you should also consider your finances, whether you can afford your pet, how much your insurance is willing to cover for you, and what kind of animals they can cover. Most pet insurance companies cover dogs, cats, and horses but not other, slightly exotic animals like rodents and reptiles.
In short, take the time to learn as much as possible about the animal and specific breed you want to ensure you can properly care for it.
Emotional support animals are a terrific addition to your self-healing plan. They offer many emotional and physical support benefits and as much unconditional love and affection as you need. If you follow the right path, do the right research, and speak to a qualified mental health professional, obtaining certification and your beloved ESA can be a really easy and stress-free process.