Treating Depression and Anxiety With a Companion Pet

Mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety are commonplace around the world, both in developed and developing communities and nations. Often, mental illness is misunderstood or dismissed by society at large, and sometimes even carries a stigma. But many would argue that mental disease should be treated and taken seriously like any other, and plenty of therapists and counselors are available to help. Not only that, but even non-human aid may be enlisted. A person can’t talk out their anxiety issues to a dog and get a diagnosis, but an emotional support animal, or an ESA, can do a lot of good. Pets such as cats, dogs, birds, and small mammals are kept for the beauty of the animal and companionship, and this overlaps with emotional support needs, too. Legitimate emotional support animal registration is needed, and an ESA application and ESA pet training may be needed for a therapy cat for depression or a dog. But if these simple hurdles can be cleared, a dog or therapy cat for depression or anxiety can do a lot of good, and even overcoming social anxiety disorder may be possible in some cases. How can someone acquire a therapy cat for depression?

Mental Issues Today

One may first consider why they might get an ESA to start with. Plenty of statistics are being kept about mental issues and disorders, ranging from major conditions such as autism and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder down to social anxiety, depression, and other anxiety forms. This study is often overlapped with studying the mental effects and benefits of pet ownership, since owning a beloved pet may alter a person’s mental state even if no mental disorder is involved. To start with, some one in four American adults is believed to be living with a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Meanwhile, one in seven children aged two to eight is diagnosed with a mental, developmental, or behavioral disorder ranging from autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to ADHD to OCD, and others.

Can a pet dog or cat really help with this? Studies and surveys say that yes, a dog or therapy cat for depression and anxiety can make quite a difference. Many Americans own pets, and this can often provide a mental boost. Some 74% of surveyed Americans reported mental health improvements to some degree by owning pets as companions, often cats, dogs, and birds. And in 2015, for a fairly recent example, a major airline had carried over 24,000 emotional support animals, or ESAs, according to data available from the International Air Travel Association. This may hardly be surprising, since most American households have at least one pet and the idea of pet ownership is accepted as quite ordinary and natural. Some 44% of American families have at least one dog, and that leads to an estimated dog population of 80 million in the United States. Even more house cats are owned, especially since they’re lower-maintenance.

Getting an Emotional Support Animal

Suppose someone is suffering from a mental disorder such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and others. They may choose to get an ESA as their companion, who will soothe them and the worst effects of their mental problem. The first step, aside from having a mental disorder diagnosis, is to choose what sort of animal to acquire, and this may be a matter of personal taste. Some people may want a dog, or they may prefer cats or smaller pets such as birds or a rabbit or hamster.

Another important step to take is to discuss this with one’s mental health professional and explain their need for an ESA, and that medical professional will write and sign a letter explaining the patient’s need for an ESA. This form may be renewed every few years to keep it current. Such a letter is important for when the ESA owner takes that pet somewhere where pets are ordinarily not allowed.

Otherwise, acquiring an ESA is much like getting any other pet. The person may buy or adopt a cat, dog, or other animal and keep it as a companion, and this involves caring for it and training it as needed. But even ESA shouldn’t be allowed to destroy property or make excessive noises or messes.