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The feelings of severe despondency and dejection that characterize depression often seem unshakable. Modern day medicine seems ill-equipped to deal with this depression or a whole host of other mental disorders. In addition to reducing the rock-bottom lows experienced by those with depression, medication tends to reduce the highs. This creates a sense of numbness or apathy within patients. It is difficult to see how this is much better. Our lives are meant to contain a broad spectrum of emotions, feelings, and experiences — the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. But too many of us are overmedicated and under-treated. That’s not to say that drugs don’t have their place, but they aren’t the only means on the road to recovery. More and more people are realizing this and turning to other forms of treatment. One such treatment employs the use of animals to provide emotional support. They are called emotional support animals, and they have been used to great effect in the management and treatment of psychiatric and intellectual disabilities, thanks to studies proving they reduce tension, anxiety, and stress while improving mood. And if an emotional support animal is something you’d be interested in, you should stick around, because in this article, we’re going to discuss the best emotional support animals for those suffering from depression.

In considering the best ESA animal to get, the first thing to consider is your disposition. Are you gregarious and outspoken? Do you like a lot of attention? Are you incredibly social? If so, having a pet that also craves socializing — such as an ESA dog — is important. On the other hand, if you are reserved, like your own space, and appreciate peace and quiet, then a having a pet that reflects this — such as an ESA cat — is ideal. Going against the grain and getting a pet that doesn’t fit your personality will serve to make things worse rather than better. On that same thread, don’t pick a pet that you are allergic to because you’re in this for the long haul. Eventually, the constant bouts of sneezing and itchiness will take their toll and outweigh the benefits of even the best pets for depression.

Right, so which animals are the best ESA animals for depression?

Bark up the Right Tree with an ESA Dog

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ESA dogs are the most common type of emotional support animals.

Emotional support dogs are perhaps the most social, loyal creatures. They crave attention and affection, and they are co-dependent, which makes them a perfect companion for those with depression. Furthermore, they generally require lots of exercise, which means you’ll be getting exercise, too. And along your walks, your emotional support dog will be socializing with other dogs, giving you the opportunity to socialize with their owners.

Get the Purrrfect ESA Cat

Balanced, poised, able to fend for themselves — cats make for great emotional support animals if you don’t require constant doting. Preferring low-energy environments, they are ideal if you’re introverted and quiet. They’re also highly intuitive and are likely to snuggle up when you need it most.

Maybe You’re Rabid for Rabbits

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ESA rabbits are great for people who suffer from allergies.

Rabbits are great for people who suffer from allergies. Easily housetrained, they have more modest needs than cats or dogs. There docility and calmness make them incredibly therapeutic pets.

Choose from Plenty of Fish in the Sea

 Requiring the least responsibility of all the animals listed, fish may be a good emotional support animal for those not able to devote much time to their pet. Watching their graceful, serene gliding through the water is incredibly calming.

Note: Even the best emotional support animals are not a blanket cure. Pets have been shown in many studies to help in the treatment of those with mild to moderate depression, but they cannot be said to cure every individual in every case. Additionally, medicine and psychiatry should not be overlooked in the treatment of a mental illness. Rather, see emotional support animals as supplementary to a good diet, lots of sunlight, a good amount of exercise, a strong social circle, good sleep, low external sources of stress and, yes, in some cases, medication.

To get an emotional support animal, a medical practitioner — psychiatrist, psychologist, etc. — must decide whether an ESA animal will benefit you based on an assessment of your disability in question as well as the animal’s ability to improve at least one symptom of that disability.

Now that you’re informed regarding the best emotional support animals to help depression, it comes time to make that difficult decision of which pet you should get! This is an incredibly tough decision to make, but that’s why we are here. If you need more information on how to get an emotional support animal, Moosh has articles detailing exactly that in an easy-to-read format. We have a smorgasbord of articles on all things ESA animal-related, from grooming to what movies to watch with your pet. Keep learning and exploring!