To those of you who might not be familiar, an Emotional Support Animal is a particular type of assistance animal that is generally prescribed by a licensed mental healthcare professional or a medical practitioner. The main objective of an emotional support animal is the provide support to individuals, who are living with a mental or emotional disorder.
With the help of the extensive data obtained from ‘The Assistance Dog Center’, we have given some useful information regarding the connection between having an ESA dog and the improvement of a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical health.
A transverse online survey conducted among 298 men and women having an age ranging between 14 and 81. This cross-sectional survey was conducted between October 12, 2018, and December 7, 2018. This survey wasn’t just conducted in the United States, but in 8 other countries as well.
This survey gathered information from the people who had ESA dogs around 307.
Each participant that took part in this survey were asked to answer 46 questions. These questions covered the demographics and the limitations of those people such as deficiency of drive, lack of motivation, being reluctant to take part in daily life activities, anxiety, depression, panic, etc., and any other perceptions of changes that took effect because of an ESA dog. These views were from either an ESA dog owner or a relative, which covered some of the important aspects such as differences, pros, and cons of having a support animal.
Almost all the people who participated in the survey stated that they had experienced an improvement in their life because of having an emotional support dog.
Of all the 298 people who participated, 285 people said that they are going to have another ESA dog after the passing away of their current ESA dog. When it comes to the remaining 13 people, they preferred a service animal over an ESA dog. The main reason for this is the convenience that comes with a service animal. It is known by most people that a service animal can be taken anywhere, but as for ESAs there still exist certain limitations along with the privileges. This means ESAs may or may not be allowed in certain public places based on those limitations.
Most of the people that participated in the survey announced that they were able to overcome almost all of the issues they used to face in their day-to-day life. Some important aspects in which ESAs were proven to be helpful to their owners were to provide motivation, to offer support, to brighten their mood, make them feel entertained, and companionship. Help with these aspects assisted with the restoration of assurance in usual and certain specific situations, while increasing the possibility of letting them become open to social interaction.
The majority of participants declared that owning an ESA dog helped them to deal with many of the mental health issues they were facing, which have been clearly described below.
• People who felt more secure by having an ESA – 99.29%
• People who felt independent and energetic – 97.86%
• People whose stress was reduced and were able to sleep properly – 96.80%
• People whose eagerness in life increased – 98.39%
• People whose motivational levels increased – 98.58%
• People who experienced lower anxiety levels – 94.4%
• People who had a reduction in having panic attacks – 88.89%
• People who were able to get back to their everyday activities such as work, education, training, etc. – 88.89%
• People who had improvement in obsessive thoughts – 83.33%
• People who had improvement in their obsessive actions – 77.78%
Adding to that, 45 participants of this survey, who accounted for up to 15.1% told that their emotional support dog helped them to have additional relief along with what they anticipated. This included distracting the owners in certain situations where they were needed to be distracted. In a specific case or two, additional benefits included emotional support animals identifying lupus outbreaks at the right time and warning of seizures or attacks earlier.
Until now, there haven’t been any studies done in order to look into the support provided by ESA dogs. Nonetheless, there have been quite a handful of studies that determine the positive results of owning a dog.
In the year 2007, a systematic analysis done by two people named Janelle Nimar and Brad Lundahl, who are students from the University of Utah gave an outline of various studies, which determined the use of dogs for supporting the treatment of patients suffering from trauma. They discovered that interaction with dogs is known to enhance mood and reduce depression-related symptoms in such types of people. Moreover, they also stated that even the presence of a dog will have a considerable amount of impact on reducing anxiety.
Being exposed to dogs is also proven to display neurobiological benefits. It has been reported by various studies that it has a lowering effect on the human stress system, which is known as ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis’ or ‘autonomic nervous system’.
Furthermore, blood pressure and heart rate also function normally while interacting with a dog and the levels of ‘cortisol’ (primary stress hormone) are also reduced. Based on research, it has been discovered that even after petting an unfamiliar dog, a person’s oxytocin levels experience an increase in his/her body. Oxytocin is known to be very helpful to people who are suffering from mental issues including subdued stress reaction, anxiety, and depression.
Based on what we found out, there is a strong connection between having an emotional support dog and improvement in a person’s mental, emotional, and sometimes even physical health. Owning an ESA helps in alleviating the symptoms of various types of mental and emotional disorders like panic attacks, or lack of motivation, or any other issue such as these.
Emotional Support Animals are the general treatment that is prescribed by most licensed mental health professionals and general medical practitioners in order to provide support to people suffering from a mental or emotional disability. The support provided by emotional support animals, as the name suggests, is purely emotional in nature. Therefore, they help their owners with their companionship, which usually includes feelings such as security, loyalty, and most importantly love. They also help in making an individual’s everyday life organized.
As per what the previous studies have determined, having a normal dog can help in decreasing the stress levels in a person along with enhancing their mood. However, because of the limitations and restrictions that apply to a normal pet in public places, people that are suffering from disabilities related to their emotional or mental health might opt for having an ESA dog or any other emotional support animal. These emotional support animals are allowed with specific privileges regarding housing and travel.
Positive Influence of Emotional Support Animals:
Dog ownership is considered an efficient way to aid in improving the daily life activities for people who have disorders related to their emotional or mental health, as suggested by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
This association mentions a public study from 2016, which revealed the fact that having animals can help in offering security and stability in routine to people suffering from mental health related issues, which lets them gain emotional and social acceptance.
The associations also identify some other advantages of having a pet such as pets playing an active role in helping their owners meet new people, which allows the owners to open doors to have new friendships and have a socially active life.
Additionally, further research states that dogs contribute a lot to the well-being of humans.
Increase of mental health issues in the United States during Covid-19 pandemic outbreak:
Almost half of the Americans reported negative effects on their mental health because of the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus outbreak.
Researchers that are a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered that cases of anxiety, depression, and suicidal intentions were considerable a lot higher during the outburst of Coronavirus in contrast to the previous year. Not only that, but people were drawn more into substance abuse during this period.
Most of the people who live in America had to face unemployment, a decline in salaries, loss of loved ones, and many other issues, which jointly led to a decline in mental health with respect to an increase in the issues related to mental health, all this just because of the outbreak of deadly Coronavirus. This was not just limited to the residents of the United States, but the people from all over the world had to face similar issues.
ESAs as a viable solution:
In a scientific study, the people who participated conveyed that having an emotional support dog helped 99.29% of them to feel secure, helped 97.86% of the participants feel independent and energetic, and helped 96.80% to have a reduced amount of stress and improvement in their sleeping patterns.
Participants also indicated that they had some other advantages related to mental health such as eagerness in life, increase in their motivation levels, lowered anxiety levels, and reduced panic attacks.
People who are constantly suffering from mental health problems may experience such benefits by having an emotional support dog of their own.
With respect to the views from the survey conducted on Service Animals, in which 992 people participated, 90.8% of the people who applied for an ESA letter were facing difficulties related to anxiety while 72.4% of the people were dealing with difficulties related to depression.
Some other mental health issues that require people to have an emotional support animal are as follows:
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Panic attacks
• Disorders related to mood
• Disorders related to personality
• Seasonal affective disorders
• Suicidal tendency
• Chronic pain
Because of the fact that ESAs are not considered regular pets in the United States, they are offered a specific set of privileges as per the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. The Fair Housing Act identifies the use of companion animals as an effective measure against mental and emotional problems and allows individuals to obtain access to having their emotional support animals along with them when it comes to their accommodation. Because of this, landlords are subject to a regulation that prevents them from denying an emotional support animal, even if the housing they provide has an effective no-pets policy. On the other hand, the Air Carrier Access Act lets an individual bring along their emotional support animals in the cabin of their flight when they travel to other places. Moreover, the people who travel along with their ESAs on planes will not be required to pay any sort of additional fees for letting their animal companions accommodate them on their flight. However, there have been some recent changes made to this privilege offered to ESA owners.
To know more about the changes in the rules for ESAs on flights, please click here.
To know about the airlines that still follow the same rules and still continue to allow emotional support animals on the flight along with their owners, please click here.
People who want to have an emotional support dog or any other emotional support animal for that matter should get a prescription from their licensed mental health professional or any other medical practitioner. This prescription is most commonly referred to as an ‘ESA Letter’.
You can obtain this ESA Letter from a licensed mental health professional, with whom you are familiar. If you don’t have access to a mental health professional, you can acquire the telehealth services offered by us in order to get in contact with a best-in-class mental health professional, who works within our network.
Telehealth services offered at ESA Certificate help you in acquiring an ESA letter much more simple and easier than usual. If you are interested in having an emotional support animal can do it without even having to consult a mental health professional by a direct approach, meaning you can do it within the comfort of your home itself with the help of telehealth services. Contact us to know whether you qualify for an emotional support animal or not.