As humans, we thrive on connecting with others. Feeling isolated or cut off from those around us can result in increased feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Loneliness is a common factor in people who experience some form of mental illness. It can be extremely challenging for these individuals to form social connections or relationships with other people because of their own suffering. As a result of feeling lonely or isolated, people can fall even further into their despair. In order to combat loneliness, many people have found that owning emotional support animals (ESAs) provides them with a companion with which they can form a close, long-lasting bond. Read on for more information on how you can use an ESA to cure loneliness.
Emotional support animals are pets that are certified as therapy or support animals. For people with a variety of mental illnesses (including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder etc.), symptoms can either be alleviated or eliminated with the use of an ESA. These pets can be traditional animals like dogs or cats or more exotic species like snakes, hedgehogs, and pigs. As long as the animal provides its owner with a calming presence and affection, it can be labeled an emotional support animal. Even if your mental illness improves, you can still keep your ESA as a pet that helps ward off potential future symptoms or flare-ups of your condition. It’s also pretty easy to get your pet certified. You just need your mental health professional to write an ESA letter for you, affirming that you have a mental illness and could benefit from owning an ESA. If you don’t have a professional like this in your life, MooshMe can help connect you with one virtually.
There are a number of mental health conditions that can cause loneliness. Depression is a major one, since people who have this diagnosis often isolate themselves from friends and family. Depression can also make people feel unable to socialize; being around other people can feel challenging if you feel like you have to fake being happy. Depressed people also tend to not find joy in activities they used to like doing, so going out with friends might not seem appealing. These factors mean that individuals with depression are further cut off from social interactions and relationships that might boost their mood.
Anxiety (especially in the form of social anxiety) can also create higher instances of loneliness. People with anxiety disorders often shy away from social situations where their anxiety symptoms will likely increase. Some individuals also might feel like they’re unlikable or unworthy of attention, or they might be too concerned that they may say or do the wrong things in front of other people. Their solution is to make minimal contact with the outside world; in extreme cases of this, people can become agoraphobic and struggle with an extreme fear of leaving their homes at all. Becoming more homebound only breeds more loneliness.
Another mental illness that fosters loneliness is addiction. People who suffer from addiction (no matter the substance) often feel cut off from others as they become consumed with their addiction. As the addiction is fueled, their loneliness increases as well.
Although loneliness on its own isn’t a qualifying condition for owning an ESA, it is often a symptom of these types of mental health disorders. Therefore, most people experiencing loneliness can benefit from having an ESA. ESAs for loneliness make sense, since these animals can combat isolation just by being their reliable, loyal selves. ESAs and depression go hand in hand – an emotional support animal’s companionship and loving essence can create a lift in your spirits if you’re feeling down. ESAs can also help lessen loneliness by encouraging their owners to get out more. For example, pets that need exercise can prompt trips to the dog park, where you can interact with other people and possibly even make some new friends. Even just owning an ESA can sometimes help to make you feel more social; there will always be fellow pet-lovers who will want to chat with you when you’re out and about. It’s okay if you aren’t more inspired to interact socially, though – tjust the relationship you form with your ESA can make you feel less alone in the world.
If you’re wondering which ESA is best for companionship, there are tons of options. Most animals (with a few exceptions) are social beings that love interacting with people. There are even certain dog breeds that thrive off these types of interactions. The more love and affection you can give them, the happier they’ll be. Breeds ranging from Golden Retrievers and Bichon Frises to Labradors and Beagles are all best suited to being loyal buddies to their owners.
If you’re wondering, “How can I get an emotional support animal that will help with my loneliness?”, you actually have a lot of options, such as adopting a pet from a local shelter, buying from a breeder, etc. To make sure you’re getting the ESA that best fits your needs, it can be important to consider lifespans of the animal (even the specific breeds) that you’re thinking about getting. You’ll want to know ahead of time what kind of commitment you’re getting yourself into before purchasing an ESA. Likewise, understanding the maintenance needed for your ESA is also crucial. This can help you determine which ESA is right for you; if you can’t make the commitment of regular grooming, you’ll need a dog breed that doesn’t require as much maintenance. Doing your research ahead of time can help take the guesswork out of what you’ll actually need to do to care for your ESA once you have them in your home. One of the best parts of owning an emotional support animal is the flexibility you’ll have. You aren’t required to keep your ESA with you at all times; they can definitely be left at home if you need to do so.
There are a number of ways that your ESA can actually help improve your health (both physically and emotionally). But their ability to battle loneliness is perhaps one of the greatest advantages you’ll find. If you feel yourself isolating or becoming more cut off from your loved ones or friends because of your mental illness, getting an ESA can be a huge step in the right direction for fighting loneliness and for moving towards overall better mental health.