What Is It Like Living With Agoraphobia?

Moosh - agoraphobia

Struggling with a mental illness can be a lonely experience. This loneliness applies even more to people who are living with agoraphobia. This anxiety disorder makes it challenging or nearly impossible for them to leave their homes and interact with the outside world. Because of this isolation, individuals living with agoraphobia can benefit immensely from owning an emotional support animal (ESA). If you’re wondering, “Can ESAs help agoraphobia?”, read on for more information.

What is agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia typically begins in your late teens or early adult years (but can also appear in childhood or later adulthood in some cases). This disorder is marked by intense fear and avoidance of places or situations that cause panic or anxiety. These situations often make you feel trapped and helpless, resulting in you feeling like there’s no way to escape or get help. Because of this fear, you can start to completely steer clear of situations that make you feel anxious. For example, if you’ve had a panic attack in a park, you can develop a fear of this happening again, so you may decide to avoid going to parks altogether. Living with agoraphobia, you have a difficult time feeling safe (especially in public places where there are lots of people). The experienced fear is often completely out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation. This can lead some people to feel like they’re completely unable to leave their homes without feeling absolute terror. Agoraphobia occurs when these symptoms and behaviors of avoidance last for six months or longer, and you’re at an increased risk of developing it if you have a panic disorder or other phobias, have recently experienced stressful life events (especially a traumatic event), or have a blood relative with agoraphobia.

Because agoraphobia is a chronic condition, it can last for years or even be lifelong. There are treatment options out there – psychotherapy and medications can be helpful. However, because people have to end up confronting their fears and opening their world up again in order to improve, it can be a daunting task to recover. Therefore, it’s essential to provide people with other coping mechanisms to help make things as easy as possible for them. This is where emotional support animals and agoraphobia can go hand in hand.

Moosh - woman on couch with dog
Living with agoraphobia can be that little bit easier with an emotional support animal by your side.

What is an ESA?

An emotional support animal is a pet (that can be from a variety of species) that acts as a constant companion who can comfort their owner. Qualifying conditions for needing an ESA include a number of different mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder, it can also be considered a condition that can be alleviated or improved through owning an ESA. Getting your pet certified as an ESA requires you to get a certification from your mental health provider, in which they verify that you have a mental illness and could benefit from an ESA. You can also reach out to MooshMe; they can connect you virtually with a mental health professional that can help you get your pet certified. Once you have a certified ESA, you are protected under several federal laws. This means you have the privilege of flying with your ESA in the cabin of the airplane with you when you travel, and you can’t face housing discrimination because of your ESA.

Can you get an emotional support animal for agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia and ESAs are actually a perfect match. You can keep your ESA with you at home at all times to help provide you with someone to connect to – even when you can’t manage to leave your home to socialize with other people. They’re also helpful in lowering anxiety levels, so if you are able to venture out into the world, you’ll have a safe, comforting presence with you to help manage your fear and panic.

Which ESAs are best for agoraphobia?

There are lots of different animals that can help with agoraphobia including cats, bunnies, etc. As long as the animal has a calmer nature and is affectionate, they’ll be able to help you alleviate symptoms of panic and distress. Dogs often make the best ESAs for people with agoraphobia because they can offer a distraction during times of anxiety, as well as motivation to leave the home (like to take your dog for a walk or out to a dog park). There are many dog breeds that make good ESAs, such as Bichon Frises, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Labradors, Border Collies, and Poodles. By having one of these animals as a constant companion, you might find that it’s less lonely when your agoraphobia symptoms are heightened and you’re homebound. When you are feeling stronger and are able to leave your home, you might discover that you feel a little less fear and panic because you have your ESA by your side.

Moosh - woman with ESA
Emotional support animals and agoraphobia treatment can go hand in hand.

Working towards recovery from agoraphobia can be challenging and overwhelming. But you can make your journey to recovery easier by having an ESA who can make you feel safe – no matter what situations you find yourself in. You can try to slowly raise your tolerance for stressful situations and head out into the world as much as possible (with the help and support of a trusted therapist). Although living with agoraphobia can feel like you’re trapped and isolated, you don’t have to just accept the loneliness that comes with it. Consider getting an ESA, so that they can bring a little more love into your life and give you a renewed openness to venturing outside.

The 6 Best Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds For ESA Ownership

Moosh - stretching cat

The benefits of owning an emotional support animal are well documented. Anecdotal evidence and research results show us that if you suffer from an emotional or a psychological disorder, owning an ESA can help relieve your symptoms and make life a little easier to navigate. Emotional support animals – be they dogs, cats, or any pet of your choice – can, among other things, calm you, reduce your anxiety, help you in social situations, and just be there as a companion for you.

The most popular ESAs are dogs and cats, for obvious reasons. But what if you’re allergic to animals? Many people are. Well, fear not, because there are several hypoallergenic emotional support cats out there to choose from! Below we’ll take a look at some of the best hypoallergenic cat breeds and which ones might be good for your own particular condition.

Why hypoallergenic cats don’t trigger allergies

There are many benefits of choosing a cat as your ESA. But what if you have allergies? Well, you may be surprised to learn that there are actually two things that make some people allergic to cats. Most of us tend to assume it’s the fur that causes allergy problems, which indeed it can be, but more people are allergic to proteins that are secreted by the skin and are also present in a cat’s saliva. They are two different proteins: Fel d1 from the skin and Fel d4 in the saliva.

Here are our recommendations for the best hypoallergenic ESA cats that are less likely to cause either of these reactions in humans.

Sphynx

If you are very sensitive to cat fur, then the Sphynx cat might be the answer for you. They are hairless, so obviously there’s no fur allergy issue. The cat’s saliva can’t get trapped in its fur, because it has none! So it’s a double whammy, making the Sphynx a great ESA cat for allergy problems. As they’re fairly unique, they do require some special care, so be sure to check out their needs if you’re thinking of getting one.

Moosh - hypoallergenic Sphynx cat
Image by Nosferata_Morbosa from Pixabay: The Sphynx is probably the best ESA cat for allergies.

Oriental

Oriental cats have a very short and fine coat that hardly sheds at all, so you won’t have the worry of loose hairs around the home. Plus, the short coat means it’s less likely to trap saliva. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to give your Oriental cat a regular brush to further reduce the risk of loose hairs. They are beautiful cats, and with the smooth coat making them very pleasing to stroke, they are one of the best hypoallergenic cats to help ease anxiety.

Russian Blue

You may be surprised to see the wonderful Russian Blue on a list of best hypoallergenic ESA cats. Their lovely coat doesn’t have any special hypoallergenic qualities, but their trump card is that they produce less Fel d1 – the protein secreted from their skin. So if you’re more allergic to this than cat fur, the Russian Blue might be the ESA of choice for you. They make very good house cats and, being a little more independent than other potential house cat breeds, they can be left on their own for a period of time. They like to bond with one person over others, and they don’t particularly like change of any sort. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or agoraphobia, or you just want a more reliable constant companion, then the Russian Blue could be one of the best hypoallergenic emotional support cats for you.

Balinese

Balinese cats have the same benefits as Russian Blues, in that their skin produces less Fel d1. They are very friendly, affectionate, and playful cats, making them a good choice for a family or for a particular child to bond with. They do need more attention than a Russian Blue, so are not ideal if you need to leave them on their own for too long. They are in fact a Siamese cat with a longer coat, meaning they’re also very beautiful creatures.

Cornish Rex

Perhaps one of the less well-known cat breeds, the Cornish Rex has an unusual trait that makes it a perfect choice if you want an ESA cat but are allergic to fur. The majority of cats have three layers of fur: a top “guard” hair, a middle “awn” hair, and a bottom “down” hair. The Cornish Rex’s little secret is that it only has the bottom down hair. This makes them very soft to stroke but also means that they have a lot less fur than most cats. Less fur means less shedding, thus making this one of the top hypoallergenic emotional support cats.

Moosh - Cornish Rex cat
Image by duodenum82 from Pixabay: The unusual Cornish Rex is one of the best hypoallergenic cat breeds.

Devon Rex

You won’t be surprised to learn that the Devon Rex is akin to the Cornish Rex! The Devon Rex has the same type of coat as its counterpart: just the soft down hair. But where Devon has one over on Cornwall is that the Devon Rex has even less fur and hardly sheds at all. Certainly a contender for the best ESA cat for allergies!

Having an allergy to animals need not be a barrier to getting an ESA. Hypoallergenic cats make a good choice and, as you can see, there are several suitable breeds to choose from – so go and find your companion cat and apply with us online for a stress-free, relaxed assessment.

Featured image by Jonathan Sautter from Pixabay

Can An Emotional Support Animal Help With Phobias?

Moosh - phobias

Living with phobias can be debilitating and isolating, preventing you from enjoying certain aspects of life and even hindering your personal and professional lives. While most people tend to have things that make them uncomfortable or uneasy, there is a difference between being a little afraid of something and having a debilitating phobia. When our fears prevent us from functioning normally in our daily life, they have progressed to the point of becoming phobias.

What is the Difference Between Fears and Phobias?

Our brains are hardwired to react with a fight-or-flight response when we encounter a situation that is either dangerous or scary. In this sense, this mental reaction is useful because it keeps us safe. However, sometimes this fear becomes much more pronounced, crossing the line of rational thought and becoming a deeply ingrained phobia. For example, a rational fear would be feeling uneasy during a turbulent plane ride, whereas a phobia would involve avoiding traveling anywhere that involved airplane travel. While we might not particularly enjoy getting a needle at the doctor’s, the little bit of discomfort we experience knowing we are going to get one, is a rational fear. Fainting at the sight of a needle or avoiding the doctor altogether would be a phobia – trypanophobia, to be exact.

Phobias usually develop during childhood or early adolescence, and most times they continue into adulthood, although sometimes may lessen somewhat. Depending on the phobia and its severity, it can limit a person’s ability to interact with others on a daily basis. Physical symptoms often occur when someone is exposed to their phobia trigger, including dizziness, breathlessness, feeling faint, racing heart, shaking or trembling, and even nausea. Agoraphobia is the fear of being alone in a place where escape could be difficult, such as large crowds. Along with social phobia, the fear of social situations, these two phobias form one group of anxiety disorders, and both can be quite debilitating. Sometimes the anxiety and phobia can become so pronounced that it leads to avoiding social situations more and more, and eventually remaining at home the majority of the time.

Other common phobias include arachnophobia (fear of spiders), aerophobia (fear of flying), and acrophobia (fear of heights). Many phobias can be treated through various types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Research is also finding that emotional support animals are able to help some people to manage their phobias, allowing them to lead a more comfortable life. Emotional support animals often mean the difference between a person being confined in their home due to their anxiety and being able to venture out and leave their homes.

What is an ESA?

An emotional support animal is a pet that provides comfort for its owner. Many different types of pets are able to be an emotional support animal, including dogs, cats, birds, and even snakes. Emotional support animals can help to alleviate or improve many different mental illnesses, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic stress, and depression. ESAs provide the comfort and reassurance that one might be needing in order to combat the symptoms associated with their mental health condition.

Image by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels: Emotional support animals help to provide comfort to their owners.

Wondering “Are phobias a qualifying condition for an emotional support animal?” Yes, they are! In order to get ESAs for phobias, patients need certification from a mental health provider, confirming that you do suffer from a mental health condition and would benefit from having an ESA. If you do not currently have a mental health provider but would like to look into having your pet certified as an ESA, you can also contact MooshMe, and they will connect you virtually to a mental health professional who can help you. By having an official ESA certification, you and your pet are protected by several federal laws that will make it a lot easier for you to keep your pet close by at all times.

Can Emotional Support Animals Help With Phobias?

So can ESAs treat phobias? Well, the answer is yes! Their loyalty, devotion, energy, and kindness warm our hearts and make us feel calmer. When we are down, they come and comfort us in their own special way. They instinctively know what we need and how to support us. For people who struggle with a phobia, an emotional support animal could be a great solution for them. So what phobias can be treated with an emotional support animal? Basically, any phobias whose symptoms can be calmed by the presence of an animal. Social phobias in particularly can be aided greatly by an emotional support animal, allowing people to leave their homes and venture out into the public with less anxiety and more confidence.

Getting an ESA Certification

In order to be able to bring your ESA with you to more places, you need a proper certification. This is where MooshMe can help. You will need to have your mental health provider confirm that you indeed suffer from a particular phobia and would benefit from having an emotional support animal. MooshMe can help you with this by connecting you virtually to a licensed mental health practitioner. They will then complete the process and provide you with valid certification of your emotional support animal.

Image by Skitterphoto on Pexels: Emotional support animals could travel with you with proper certification.

This can be particularly helpful when you are wanting to travel with your pet, but you have a phobia of flying or a social phobia of being in crowded places. By having your proper ESA certification, you will avoid additional charges to bring your pet on the plane with you, provided it can fit on your lap or under the seat in front of you. Small pets are even allowed to sit on your lap throughout the flight, rather than in their cage, provided you have proper documentation that they are in fact an ESA.

Featured image by Kat Jayne on Pexels

How An ESA Can Be Helpful If You Work From Home

Moosh - working from home with your ESA

If you struggle with mental health issues, you know that it can sometimes feel like your career suffers because of your symptoms. You might even feel like you can’t work in an office or have a demanding job because of your symptoms (whether they’re due to depression, anxiety, or a whole host of other conditions). However, one way that many people have tackled their mental health issues along with succeeding at their job is by working from home. Working from home can be because your job lets you telecommute, or because you are self-employed and can set your own hours. Either way, working from home allows you to have the flexibility you might need to better manage your symptoms while still tackling all of your work responsibilities. You can also make life easier for yourself by owning an emotional support animal.

What are emotional support animals?

These animals, also known as ESAs, can help provide consistent comfort and support for people with a wide number of different psychological conditions, such as:

  • Major depression
  • Anxiety disorders (including panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Autism
  • Agoraphobia
  • Personality disorders

Many people find that owning an ESA helps to relieve or lessen their symptoms from these disorders. These animals can range from traditional pets like dogs and cats to more exotic fare like snakes or miniature pigs. Whichever animal you choose to own, ESAs provide a constant, loving companion that can help bring down your anxiety levels and help boost your mood. So, where does an emotional support animal for the home worker come into play? Working from home means you can get all the benefits of your ESA 24/7.

Moosh - woman working at home with ESA
Image by Bruno Cervera on Unsplash: Having an ESA by your side can make you more successful when you work from home.

How can you benefit from an ESA if you work at home?

Working from home with your ESA can provide advantages in a number of ways. Your ESA can:

  • Help you combat loneliness. Working from home can sometimes feel isolating since you’re not surrounded by coworkers all day. Having an ESA to interact with (and even chat to!) can make you feel less alone at home.
  • Offer more positive and proactive encounters. Some coworkers or bosses can spawn negative interactions throughout your day, while your ESA can just be there to provide companionship (without criticism, judgment, or pressure).
  • Serve as a reminder to take more breaks. Working from home (without strict scheduled breaks or mealtimes) can lead you to forget to give yourself moments to rest (or to eat!). Your ESA can help remind you to take a break by forcing you to stop working in order to pet or cuddle them, to feed them, or to take them outside for a quick walk or play break.
  • Help you complete tasks and reach your goals more easily. An ESA can alleviate some of your symptoms, which can lead to you feeling more empowered and more capable of achieving what you need to every day.

Your ESA can actually help you to become a more focused worker, since a less stressed frame of mind can make it easier for you to concentrate and complete tasks. You could end up being a more well-rounded worker overall who can tackle a variety of projects (with less anxiety or stress attached). Because you can achieve a lot more working from home with your ESA, there’s a good chance you won’t have to take on an office job or something with a stricter schedule that you’re not comfortable with.

Let’s say you already have an ESA and have found that your current job isn’t conducive to having your ESA with you onsite. Working with an ESA at home can mean that you can keep your animal by your side all day without having to be concerned about working in an office environment. If you work at home, you don’t have to worry about the safety and happiness of your ESA (or that of your coworkers and other office staff). This can end up providing you with the best of both worlds: constant love from your ESA and a comfortable work environment that allows you to succeed, even if you’re experiencing a flareup of some of your mental health symptoms.

Moosh - cat next to computer
Image by Ioana Tabarcea on Unsplash: An ESA can provide you with the comfort you need to tackle your work responsibilities from home.

Which ESA is best for a home worker?

There are a lot of animals that function well as ESAs. Dogs are probably the most popular option, and they can work really well in offering you support while you’re working from home. Cats can also be a good option, since they’re pretty self-sufficient; they’ll generally leave you alone while you work. Other animals that don’t need a lot of constant supervision, such as rabbits or reptiles, can also be beneficial. However, more exotic species (such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders) might demand a lot more of your attention, so they’re not great picks if you’ll need a great deal of time to focus on your work. Likewise, you’ll want to steer clear of loud animals that aren’t conducive to a quiet working environment (so probably no loud squawking birds or creatures like ferrets that can get in the way of your concentration).

If you want to make sure that your ESA can be independent while you’re working, consider putting a cozy bed in your office or next to your desk, so they can lounge around while you’re hard at work. This can also give you some peace of mind so that you can still keep your eye on them throughout the day. Also, make sure you’re scheduling frequent breaks (as mentioned above); this can ensure that you’re taking enough time to refresh, as well as ensuring that your pet is getting enough walks, fresh air, treats, and general attention. It’s also a good idea to provide your ESA with plenty of toys or other distractions so they can stay just as busy as you are during the day.

ESAs for home workers can definitely be a rewarding solution to someone struggling with mental health issues while still trying to be successful at work. Working from home can help you strengthen the bond you have with your ESA, while simultaneously helping you get the daily support you need to thrive in your career.

Featured image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

8 Psychological Conditions that are Improved by ESA Ownership

Emotional support animal ownership has many life-changing benefits. People who suffer from various mental health problems can be helped greatly by the loving presence of an ESA dog, pig, rat, or cat.

Certain conditions are especially amenable to being improved by emotional support pet ownership. For example, the company of a friendly and happy pet tends to greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and phobia. Here are eight psychological conditions that are improved by ESA ownership.

 

Chronic Anxiety

Chronic anxiety is an anxiety that is somewhat low in intensity, but present for long periods of time. Chronic anxiety is often present for no directly apparent reason. It just gnaws away at a person’s nerves, often from morning ’til night. It often even chases people into their dreams. Chronic anxiety is usually caused by irrational thoughts, beliefs, and ideas about the world, and it can be treated very effectively with cognitive behavioral therapy. But treatment can take a long time, and even when effectively treated, symptoms can return. An emotional support animal helps people with chronic anxiety a lot. The presence of an ESA takes a person out of their worrying mind and into the present, where everything tends to feel much more OK.

Acute Anxiety

Acute anxiety is different to chronic anxiety in that it is brought on by a specific occurrence, or more accurately, a person’s thoughts about a specific occurrence (or even an imagined or predicted occurrence). Acute anxiety will attack a person in an intense burst. Unlike chronic anxiety, acute anxiety is not ever-present, but it can attack a person far more often than is healthy or desirable. When acute anxiety attacks a person, the presence of a supportive emotional support pet can be hugely calming, keeping the anxiety at a manageable level and ultimately helping to dissipate it.

Phobias

A phobia is an irrationally intense fear. It can be a fear of a person, animal, situation, or action. People who have a phobia can have their life greatly curtailed by it. For example, people who suffer from agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces, often hole themselves up inside their bedroom and never come out, as they are terrified of being outside. ESA ownership can greatly help people with phobias because the emotional support pet can provide support to the person as they slowly but surely desensitize themselves to the object of their phobia, gradually exposing themselves to it in small, manageable, but ever-increasing amounts.

Moosh - woman

ESA ownership has multiple benefits for those struggling with their mental health.

 

Depression

Depression exists at many levels of intensity. Extremely depressed people often need to use antidepressant drugs to alleviate their symptoms. But for people with lower levels of depression that make them feel very sad, insecure, helpless, and lonely, the presence of a friendly emotional support animal can draw them out of themselves, pep them up, and hugely alleviate their feelings of depression.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Some people who have been through a catastrophically traumatizing experience often develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD include chronic anxiety, acute anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares. PTSD symptoms can be hugely improved by ESA ownership. An emotional support pet can offer invaluable support when a PTSD sufferer needs to face anxiety-provoking situations such as going into crowded places, or when they wake up in the middle of the night after having a frightening nightmare.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a debilitating and incredibly frustrating condition that can seriously decrease a person’s quality of life. Insomnia can also do great damage to a person’s health. The soothing and warm presence of an emotional support animal dozing next to them in their bed can help to calm an insomnia sufferer and aid them in getting to sleep.

Moosh - depression

An emotional support animal can help to alleviate the symptoms of many psychological conditions.

Addictions and Dependencies

Addictions and dependencies vary in their level of intensity. To kick some extremely intense addictions, a period of rehabilitation may be required. But for other less intense, but still very harmful, addictions and dependencies, the support of an ESA can help a person to free themselves. The anxiety and loneliness that can cause a person to seek solace and relief in a behavior to which they are addicted can be alleviated by the presence of an ESA.

Chronic Stress

Stress kills. Chronic stress is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. In our fast-paced, modern world, far too many people are living under a dark cloud of chronic stress. ESA ownership can greatly reduce a person’s level of chronic stress. A friendly and happy emotional support pet can inspire a person to see the bright side of life and to relax and not take things too seriously. And this can be a life-saver!

Fear & Phobias

Different people are afraid of different things. Few of us can say there’s nothing that makes us nervous or a little anxious, even when we know we have no real reason to be. Most go on with our daily lives, though, maybe taking the elevator only when we have to or deciding that spelunking isn’t for us. We may have a dog, but have never considered registering it as a service dog for support in times of anxiety.

For some, anxieties and fears can force them to change their behavior and lifestyle in ways that interfere with getting up in the morning and going about a normal day. When a fear can’t be set aside and seems to have taken control of your life, you may have developed a phobia.

A phobia is a fear of something that overpowers our ability to think clearly and weigh outcomes objectively. A person with a phobia is acutely anxious about or afraid of something that most people encounter often, even daily. It’s a type of anxiety disorder [internal link] for which emotional support animal registration becomes part of their treatment.

Medical News Today reports that 19 million Americans are estimated to have a specific phobia. The 10 most common phobias are:

DEBILITATING FEAR TYPE OF PHOBIA
Being around a large number of people Social
Being out in large open spaces without support Agoraphobia
Being in confined spaces Claustrophobia
Flying Aerophobia
Spiders Arachnophobia
Driving Operating a vehicle
Vomiting Emetophobia
Blushing Erythrophobia
Becoming ill Hypochondria
Animals Zoophobia

Sometimes even thinking about a situation involving what you are phobic about can elicit a staggering feeling of fear, anxiety and even panic.

An emotional support animal (ESA) may help.

For someone who avoids situations or areas out of fear, having a pet with them for emotional support can begin to mitigate the negativity associated with them. For example, if you suffer from social phobia but have to shop for groceries, having an ESA with you for the drive over, the shopping, the interaction with the cashier and the drive home can give you a measure of comfort. Though fewer places ask for proof than before, having an emotional support animal certification with you puts an end to any questions you might get.

An ESA can even begin to lessen the stress [internal link] of someone with a phobia as soon as they begin thinking about the event or thing that evokes the phobia. Petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure and induce a sense of calm. Some studies even show that the purring of a cat, known to register between 20 Hz and 140 Hz, has all kinds of healing power — from lowering stress to healing bones!

Phobias can affect anyone. Specific parts of the brain recall memories that make phobia sufferers physically feel as though they are experiencing a prior frightening event again. Some behavior therapy has helped some people with phobias lessen their reactions to them, and an emotional support dog or cat could be part of that therapy.

Speak to your therapist or doctor about how an emotional support animal could help you take control of the phobia that controls you, then check into ESA certification here.

Service Animals Lessen Panic Disorder Stressors

Though we’ve all heard people say “I panicked!” when talking about losing their car keys or being confronted by the boss, true panic disorder is much more debilitating than momentary misgiving or fright. People with panic disorder are usually doing something normal and mundane, like parking in the driveway or cooking dinner, when they’re suddenly gripped by a paralyzing fear that seems to have no cause. Can service animals help someone with this serious mental health challenge?

The answer is yes. By obtaining an emotional support animal letter, individuals with panic disorder can keep an approved pet with them at all times, which could lead to fewer panic attacks.

Although the suddenness of a panic attack leads most sufferers to believe there’s no trigger, mental health professionals have come to understand that panic attacks actually do have causes. While the underlying signs of an impending attack can be almost impossible for a sufferer to identify without treatment, stress has been recognized as a contributing factor.

It’s not the big things on the perennial “top 5 stressors” lists, though, that trigger panic attacks. In a study published in Science Daily, researchers found that individuals with panic disorder usually don’t suffer an attack right after a big, recognizably stressful event — a car accident, for example. Instead, their stress starts to build up from that date and continues to do so from the everyday frustrations and fears everyone encounters — until a panic attack occurs, sometimes days, weeks or even months later.

This is where an emotional support dog or cat may dramatically improve a sufferer’s chances of avoiding a panic attack. Service animals help their owners keep day to day stress levels down by being a source of comfort, companionship and distraction.

Sometimes, people with a panic disorder become so fearful of having an attack that they develop agoraphobia. This is a strong fear of being caught somewhere they can’t easily get out of. Having a support dog at our side can give us the sense of security we need to live our lives more easily.

If you suffer from panic disorder, consider contacting a service animal registry to have your pet designated as an emotional support animal.

Qualifying Conditions

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