MooshMe - sad doll

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects over 15 million adults in the US alone and over 350 million around the world. There are various types of depression, such as major depression, bipolar and manic-depressive illness, and there are different treatments and antidepressants available to help ease symptoms. One of the lesser-known and talked about treatment is an ESA, which stands for emotional support animal.

An emotional support animal is similar to a pet except that its sole purpose is to act as a companion to provide comfort and support, and to ease the feelings of anxiety and stress. This form of treatment for people suffering from depression is becoming more and more popular in comparison to taking the most common form of psychotropic medication – antidepressants – on a regular basis.

Below we have listed eight reasons why an emotional support animal may be beneficial if you’re suffering from depression, or know somebody who is:

Health Benefits

It has been proven that pets can help reduce stress by mitigating the emotional and psychological effects of depression. The results, for instance, include easing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure and heart rate.

It really is true when they say that dogs are man’s best friend. However, it’s worth noting that an emotional support animal can range from almost any type of animal, from a pig to a duck to a tortoise.

MooshMe - ESA tortoise

An emotional support animal, like a turtle, can provide both emotional and health benefits for depression.

Loneliness

When you suffer from depression, it can seem like you’re alone in the world and that nobody else can understand or help you. An emotional support animal is not only there for you to provide company, but it can act as an emotional outlet. You can talk to them without worry of judgment.

Caring for your emotional support animal by feeding them, taking them for walks and playing with them is a sure way to combat feelings of loneliness. It can also make the owner feel like they have a purpose, encourage empathy and give a feeling of importance.

Affection

An emotional support animal can provide affection and love – something that people with depression will definitely need at some point. If you have ever seen a dog or cat with its owner, then you will know how much love these animals can show.

This, in turn, can act as a distraction for the owner and prevent him or her from thinking too much about their mental illness or the effects of it.

Structure

If you have an emotional support animal, you would need to care for them just like you would a normal pet. This includes feeding, playing, caring, nurturing and showing them love and affection. These day-to-day basics can provide structure and routine, which can be beneficial for people with any mental illness or anxiety because it makes them aware that they are needed and have a role to play.

This kind of responsibility can add a new and positive focus to life and can be very effective in treating depression.

Staying Connected

In today’s world of modern technology, it can be easy to lose real interpersonal connections. People communicate more and more frequently, but usually through technology, and it can be difficult to build genuine and stable relationships.

With an emotional support animal, they can help as a reminder that love and connection is still there in the real world.

Lift your spirits

Some of the most common symptoms of depression include low self-esteem, anxiety, feelings of sadness, and on an even more serious note – suicidal thoughts.

Emotional support animals can help you when you’re feeling down. If you’ve ever stroked a cat, dog or any animal, you will surely know the calming effect this can have. Just by giving them a cuddle, you can boost your mood and lift your spirits immediately.

MooshMe - ESA dog with stick

By simply cuddling with an ESA, or playing with it, you will have a better attitude and more positive outlook on life.

Touch

Studies have proven that people tend to feel better when there is physical contact with others. It is likely that somebody suffering from depression may not find this easy with another person, but with an emotional support animal, this can be more appealing, accessible and comfortable.

Sense of Fulfillment

This is important, as it is possibly the last thing you feel if you have depression.

It can be difficult to experience genuine happiness, even if you are surrounded by friends and family. Putting all the positive benefits together of having an emotional support animal, a sense of well-being can arise, and the battle with depression can be made easier.

Overall, there are many advantages to having an emotional support animal if you suffer from depression. This does not necessarily mean that they can solve all your problems, but having one can provide therapeutic benefits and can be a good alternative to the more common antidepressants – which can have some negative side effects.

If you are an animal lover and have depression, an emotional support animal is definitely an option to consider.