You may already own an emotional support animal, in which case you will no doubt be very aware of your pet’s positive affect on your life. There are many different types of emotional support animals and it’s good to take the time to find out which one would best suit your needs and circumstances. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder of any sort – such as panic attacks, social phobia, or general anxiety – there’s a lot of evidence supporting the fact that an ESA can play an important role in helping you cope with your condition. Research as far back as the late 1970s uncovered scientific proof that a special bond with an animal can genuinely aid your health and state of mind. Heart attack patients who owned pets were shown to live longer than those without a pet. It’s also well-documented that stroking your emotional support cat or dog (or any other furry/hairy pet, for that matter) can reduce your blood pressure and regulate your breathing.
Feeling anxious in any given situation is a very unpleasant and unnerving experience. It’s pretty common for most of us to feel anxious from time to time, but being unable to deal with everyday social situations or suffering from a phobia of some sort is very debilitating and can dictate how you live your life. It’s quite possible, of course, that the support of a close friend or relative can help you through certain dilemmas. But even if you are lucky enough to have this support, friends and family might not always be available when you need help calming down.
The main role of an ESA, as you might expect, is to support you emotionally. This may simply mean the comfort of having a little friend to come home to at the end of the day – a pet that needs your care and attention but, beyond that, is not too demanding; a companion that you can simply feed, love, pet, and play with. The best emotional support animals to serve this function are dogs and cats. Your ESA dog or cat doesn’t just have to be waiting at home for you, though; it can be your constant companion if you want. A valid ESA letter allows you to keep your animal in rented properties that otherwise do not allow pets, and you can also take your ESA to certain public places that don’t normally condone the presence of animals. Your ESA certification can also allow you to take your registered emotional support animal in the cabin of a plane – with a few obvious exceptions, of course!
Unlike a human friend, your emotional support dog or cat can always be relied upon to be there when you need help to calm down and relieve feelings of anxiety. While humans can sometimes judge you or offer unwanted advice – not to mention having off days and problems of their own to deal with – a pet is far less complicated. It just needs food, warmth, and a little love in order to feel content. Emotional support animals are therefore able to give more than they take, which isn’t always the case with human beings. Some emotional support animals, particularly dogs, are even capable of tuning into their owner’s different moods.
Since the first findings in the late 1970s, a lot more studies have been conducted on the possible health benefits of an animal/human relationship. In addition to helping lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and regulate breathing, it was found that interacting with animals can increase a person’s oxytocin level, which results in the person feeling happier. Oxytocin is a strong hormone that resides in the human brain, acting as a neurotransmitter. Its main purpose is to help us feel love and empathy and to aid us in forming relationships and trust. Rebecca Johnson, a qualified nurse who heads up the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction, has been at the forefront of recent research and findings at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. The research can be summed up by concluding that an emotional support animal is good for a person’s psychological health. Tests have revealed changes in a human’s blood chemistry, resulting in the presence of fewer stress-related hormones in the body. All of these good effects occur naturally, speedily, without medication, and without having to rely on another human!
If you believe you might benefit from having an emotional support animal, then apply for your ESA letter online. It’s a simple process that involves a stress-free medical assessment. If approved, your ESA letter will arrive by post and you will soon be able to determine for yourself who’s best at helping to reduce your anxiety: your new, undemanding, lovably furry friend, or your favorite (but less reliable) human!