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.
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.
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.