As per the information provided by the Mental Health America website, a Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is a trained service dog that helps people dealing with mental illnesses. There are no specific illnesses that is considered as a qualifying disorder to obtain a psychiatric service dog, instead, it is essential to know what a PSD can do in order to serve its owner. Today we will discuss some of the mental health-related conditions that might improve upon having a psychiatric service dog.
What exactly are Service Dogs?
Service dogs are the type of dogs that receive training in order to perform tasks that support people dealing with disabilities. In general, such types of tasks are necessary for helping with activities that a person can’t do on his/her own. With the help of service dogs, such types of people can lead their lives happily without having to rely on anyone else.
Service dogs are very essential for the health and well-being of their owners. Some of the Federal laws in the US, which are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) let people suffering from disabilities travel on airplanes or be allowed in public places along with their service dogs. Service dogs are allowed in places even where normal pets are restricted. These laws prevent the handlers from paying any sort of pet fees because service dogs are looked upon as medical assistance rather than being considered normal pets.
Psychiatric Service Dogs for illnesses related to Psychiatric and Mental Health
In most cases, people have a misconception that service dogs only refer to guide dogs that aid the people that are visually impaired. Only a few people know about the information related to psychiatric service dogs.
On the contrary to many types of physical disabilities, which are easily identifiable like paralysis or missing body parts, mental illnesses are what some would call invisible disabilities. Extreme chronic pain, diabetes, mental illnesses, etc., are known to be some types of invisible disabilities.
Even though invisible illnesses are not always recognizable, the illness exists for sure. People who are suffering from such types of illnesses can be able to benefit from the tasks performed by a psychiatric service dog.
As mental illnesses are considered invisible disabilities, psychiatric service dogs don’t seem like a viable solution to most people. Moreover, it is not that easy to know how a service dog can be advantageous for a person suffering from an invisible disability. However, psychiatric service dogs are gaining more popularity as they can perform a wide range of tasks that are known to be helpful for their owners. Given below are some of the general types of mental illnesses, to which psychiatric service dogs are known to be of assistance.
To know whether you qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog or not, we can get you connected with a licensed healthcare professional who can determine your disability.
If you are suffering from a disorder and could benefit from a Psychiatric Service Dog, then your healthcare provider will provide you with a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
In layman’s terms, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a traumatic reaction that results in continuous & long-term changes in behavior, flashbacks of traumatic experiences, and disturbing thoughts. There are many types of causes for PTSD such as physical/mental abuse, becoming a victim of sexual assault, or serving in the military. People suffering from PTSD often have recurring memories of their stressful past that lead to extreme fear or anxiety. Because of this reason, people dealing with PTSD find it hard to take care of their daily life activities.
However, a psychiatric service dog can help the handler suffering from PTSD by doing the following things.
- Blocking their handler from getting in contact with other people by coming in between them.
- Covering their owners by walking behind them, especially while they are in a crowd.
- Conducting a perimeter check in the rooms or houses for assuring the safety of their owner.
Based on research, it has been made clear that psychiatric service dogs assist people with PTSD so that they could get on with their day-to-day life. PSDs also motivate the connecting ability of a person with others. The best possible example is the people who have PTSD because of Veteran Affairs. It has been found out that veterans who were suffering from PTSD while having a psychiatric service dog displayed healthier interpersonal relationships and reduced psychiatric issues than those who didn’t have a psychiatric service dog.
On contrary to what some people think, anxiety is not just a feeling of stress or nervousness. Anxiety disorders are chronic, continuous, and lead to a situation where people worry excessively for prolonged periods as long as six months or even more. The daily activities of people are often disturbed, and they cannot concentrate on work or school, or any other aspect of life. People who deal with anxiety disorders experience an extreme and crippling fear, which is known as an anxiety attack.
Psychiatric service dogs can help the handlers suffering from anxiety attacks by doing the following things.
- Create an exit for the handler experiencing a panic attack while they are in a crowd.
- Identify the outbreak of anxiety attacks and signal their handlers in advance.
- Distract or lead their handlers away from situations that trigger anxiety in them.
When we take anxiety into account, it is important for an individual to take the edge off of their intense emotions. Psychiatric service dogs carry out tasks that reduce stress for the handler such as licking or patting them.
No matter what the mental illness might be, you can benefit from a psychiatric service dog if your canine companion can execute tasks that help you overcome the symptoms of your disorder.
Depression can be an impairing and dangerous disorder than you might think. When ignored, an individual dealing with depression may find it hard to take care of work or involve in family matters. Some people having depression might even attempt self-harming activities or even suicide. Psychiatric service dogs avoid the handler from having such negative or disturbing thoughts and motivate them to involve in their daily life activities.
Psychiatric service dogs can help people suffering from depression by executing the following tasks.
- Alert the handlers when it is time to take medication or reminding them of day-to-day tasks such as eating, brushing, etc.
- Interrupting the handler from involving in self-harming activities or cautioning other people when the handler involves in such activities.
- Physically stimulating the handler while he/she is feeling isolated or discomfort.
Depression may not be the same for all people, as each individual might react differently. In the case of people who become extremely angry when depressed, a PSD can caution the handler that he or she is displaying signs of anger and depression.
Your ESA is eligible to be a PSD
Psychiatric Service Dogs assist with all types of mental illnesses
The bottom line is, there is no particular mental illness that makes a person eligible to have a psychiatric service dog. Despite the type of disability, a PSD should be trained for the task that assists with the handler’s disorder. A psychiatric service dog can indeed be very helpful to an individual with a mental illness to overcome the symptoms of their disorder.