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:

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.