According to data from Mental Health America, at least every adult goes through a Major Depressive Episode once every year. The interesting thing is that most people don’t even know that there are depressed. Everyone is wrapped up in their busy lifestyles and often forget about their mental health. Increased depression among United States citizens has led to a high rate of suicides.
However, depression can be treated in various ways. One of those ways is through the use of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). In this read, we are going to take you through ways in which an Emotional Support Animal can help in the treatment of depression. We will help you understand what depression is and how therapy through an ESA can help treat it.
What is Depression?
In simple terms, depression is a mental health disorder that harms how you feel, act, or respond to situations. When depressed, one is always sad and lacks interest in the things that often-brought joy in their lives. Common causes of depression include family history, trauma during early childhood, brain structure, medical conditions, and drug use.
Symptoms of depression may affect one’s mood or body. For men, symptoms may include mood changes where one is always angry, anxious, or restless. A depressed man may drink excessively, loss of sexual desire, and experience altered sleeping patterns such as insomnia. Symptoms of depression in women include irritability, hopelessness, withdrawal from social engagements, difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, and increased fatigue.
So, how can having an ESA help with depression therapy?
Number#1: ESAs Lead to Increased Production of Neuro-transmitters
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are released at the end of a neural fiber. They are often at the junction where a muscle and a neuron meet. They act as messengers between the two parts. They influence one’s mood, heart rate, and muscle movement, among others.
In simple terms, a neurotransmitter acts as a key while the receptor site acts as the lock. The brain is always sending signals to various parts of the body. These signals are transported to the respective destinations using neurons. The point where a neuron meets another part of the body is usually connected using a neurotransmitter.
To this day, scientists have recorded over 100 neurotransmitters present in the human body. There are three actions that a neurotransmitter can do; excitatory, inhibitory, or modulatory. The most familiar neurotransmitters are acetylcholine that triggers muscular contractions, endorphins that act as natural pain relievers, epinephrine that provide the body with adrenaline and dopamine that affect one’s behavior and memory.
We are going to focus on two types only, which have a direct impact on human behavior, mood, and memory. They are; Dopamine and Serotonin. The presence or absence of these two neurotransmitters will determine whether you feel sad, angry, happy, tired, or anxious. They determine your mood.
During depression. These two neurotransmitters are absent or available in minimal quantities. The reduced presence of these critical neurotransmitters makes a depressed person experience alternating moods where they can be happy one minute and extremely sad the next minute.
So, where does an Emotional Support Animal factor into all this science? Research has shown that having an ESA can help boost the production of neurotransmitters in the body, which in turn helps stabilize one’s mood.
Solitude and loneliness are common triggers of depression. However, having an ESA with you every time will provide a companion, and with it, there’s a feeling of affection. Being shown, affection makes one feel good. When your brain picks up this feeling, it sends signals which lead to the release of neurotransmitters. When an ESA is by your side, you feel loved and happy, which elevates your mood.
If you plan on getting an ESA, you must follow these four steps to help you through your depression therapy:
Step 1: Identify the Signs
Identify whether you have any symptoms that may point to depression. Such signs include a feeling of hopelessness, wanting to be alone all the time, loss of appetite, lack of sleep, fatigue, and anger, among others.
Step 2: Consult your Therapist
In case one or any of these symptoms are present, contact your mental healthcare provider. Early detection of depression is the best way to treat it. Book an appointment with a therapist and show up for the session.
Step 3: Assessment for Depression
Before recommending any treatment, the healthcare provider will carry out a series of tests such as blood tests and screening to identify whether you have depression or not.
Step 4: Doctor’s Recommendation
Once the results are in, the doctor will prescribe different treatments such as pills, counseling, and the use of an Emotional Support Animal. Doctors are now often recommending getting an ESA to help manage depression.
Will an ESA Work in Treatment of Depression?
Yes. Once diagnosed with depression, getting an ESA will help you through the recovery process. They not only elevate your mood but also provide you constant and unconditional companionship, which will work wonders for your overall mental health.
Number#2: ESAs Have a Positive Impact on your Physical Health
It’s hard to imagine that an animal could contribute to your overall physical being. However, ESAs have been found to help a depressed person become active again and improve their physical state. There’s a connection between the presence of an ESA and improved physical health.
Someone suffering from depression has extremely low energy levels. They often experience fatigue and loss of energy. A depressed person often shies away from physical activities and may stay locked up in their room. Doing household chores or office tasks becomes a problem.
However, when you have an ESA, chances of staying isolated are minimal. Dogs love taking walks. They love the outdoors and nature. Having one with you means that you have to step outside and take it for a walk. In doing so, you get an opportunity to exercise.
Exercise makes your physique thrive. Continually taking your ESA for walks is an excellent form of exercise. Having a daily routine of taking your ESA for a walk will help pull you out of depression. The feeling of accomplishment when you complete a walk with your ESA will help transform your mood. Better yet, regular exercise leads to the increased production of endorphins, which are the hormones responsible for happiness.
When one is depressed, there’s reduced production of these hormones. Therefore, it’s only sensible to engage in activities that lead to the increased production of these hormones.
Having an animal with you will motivate you to get out of that couch and work out. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous physical activity. You can take the ESA out in the park and engage it in a game of catch, which is a favorite among dogs.
You can’t afford to sit around the house all day when there’s an animal around. It will always want you to initiate play and engage in physical activities.
Investing in an Emotional Support Animal translates to an active lifestyle, which in turn leads to the secretion of the hormones responsible for happiness and reduced depression.
While at it, physical activity will help in the prevention of other lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases. So, getting an ESA is not only good for fighting depression, but it’s also an excellent way to prevent other diseases.
Here are four steps that having an ESA will help you deal with depression:
Step 1: Watch Out for Any Symptoms
Always be on the lookout for symptoms that may point to depression. They include constant fatigue, lack of appetite, decreased psych to carry out chores, aggressiveness, irritability, feeling hopeless, and helpless. Don’t ignore even the slightest symptom. Any change in your usual routine or behavior is a red flag.
Step 2: Make an Appointment with a Psychiatrist
Visit a psychiatrist and notify about the changes you may have noticed in your behavior and mood. The best thing about such consultation is that it provides an opportunity for the psychiatrist to assess you and listen to your worries and concerns.
Step 3: Go for the Test
The psychiatrist will recommend some tests which will help shed light on the issues to the issues that you may be experiencing. The tests may include blood work and other tests to help determine the problem.
Step 4: Results
Waiting for the results is critical to determine whether you have a mental disorder or not. When the medical report is received, your psychiatrist will engage you and recommend the next step. If you are indeed depressed, they may give you the option of an ESA to help you recover from your mental disorder.
How will this work for you?
Once the furry friend is in your house, you can be sure that you will have no option than to get fit. They will always nudge you to take them out for walks, and this will result in physical exercise and overall good health.
Number#3: ESAs Help You Remain Calm
When one is depressed, they are always anxious. Anxiety is triggered by several factors that can be cognitive or a result of prolonged use of harmful drugs. The cognitive cells in your body are responsible for the way that you reason. Cognition provides a logical way of looking at things and dealing with situations.
Panic attacks are a common feature when one is depressed. You may experience a sudden wave of anxiety. When depressed, one may become anxious when about to meet a new person, make a presentation at work, or attend an event. Rarely is this anxiety harmful, but it shouldn’t be there in the first place.
However, the increased occurrence of anxiety attacks isn’t right. It may result in increased heart rate, hypertension, and shortness of breath. Such anxiety is detrimental.
Stressful conditions trigger anxiety attacks. Phobias such as the fear of closed places, flying, water, and heights may be a source of anxiety. Such things may prevent you from living your life to the fullest. You may find that you stay away from situations that make you anxious.
That said, having an Emotional Support Animal with you will act as a distraction and act as a source of calmness during an anxiety attack. Clinging to an ESA has been found to help calm one’s mind and provide a sense of belonging.
When one is going through a valley in life, an ESA will provide the support system needed to help you get through the rough patch. For example, if you have a phobia for flying, you can take your ESA with you during the flight to help you remain calm during the trip. All you need to have is an ESA letter that allows you to bring the animal onboard.
Here are four steps to help calm down during an anxiety attack:
Step 1: Identify your Anxiety Triggers
You need to identify anything in your environment that is a source of depression or anxiety. What makes you anxious? Record these triggers and stay alert when they occur. How do these triggers affect your behavior?
Step 2: Consult a Mental Healthcare Expert:
Get in touch with a mental health expert and report what makes you anxious. Bear your soul to the expert without leaving out anything. Being truthful about any behavioral changes helps the consultant get the whole picture.
Step 3: Agree to the Test
Before the mental health expert can prescribe any treatment, they will need to run some tests. Go through with tests to ensure that the exact problem is identified.
Step 4: Wait for Your Reports
Depending on the medical report after the tests, the mental health doctor may prescribe different treatments. One such treatment is the use of an ESA as therapy for your mental health condition.
How will it affect you?
Having an ESA will be a source of calmness, mainly when panic attacks occur. They will keep you calm when you feel anxious about different things and situations.
Number#4: ESAs Help Boost your Self Esteem
When depression hits, the first thing one does is blame themselves for the situation. For example, life experiences such as divorce, death, or breakups often cause depression in some people. The person often blames themselves for the loss or failed relationship. They tend to believe that it’s their fault that things unfolded the way they did.
Dealing with loss is a common source of depression. One is filled with anger, remorse, and self-blame. You believe that things could have unfolded differently if you had done things differently. However, some things are usually not in your control.
Such feelings of self-blame rob you of your self-esteem. You often feel a sense of self-hate and feeling that you aren’t worthy of anything. Lack of self-love is a recipe for depression. Low self-esteem will take away your joy and happiness.
When your self-esteem is low, you will always have negative thoughts and a self-defeating attitude. Negative thoughts will hold you back from achieving your goals and dreams.
The good thing is an ESA can help you bring back your self-esteem. Having an animal that loves you unconditionally will boost your self-worth.
Step 1: Be on the Lookout for Signs of Depression
Always be aware of what is happening around you. Be on the lookout for changes in your mood, behavior, appetite, and physical body. Observe and record any symptoms that aren’t healthy. Keep a journal of the things that make sad or leave you feeling helpless.
Step 2: Visit a Mental Health Care Provider
Make an appointment with a mental health consultant. Carry the journal with you and share openly about what you may be experiencing. Open up about any traumatic experiences that may have triggered the symptoms.
Step 3: Undergo tests:
The mental health doctor may recommend some tests to help identify the problem. Such tests may include a CT scan, MRI, EEG (Electroencephalogram), blood tests, etc. Schedule the tests depending on your availability. Don’t wait for too long to do the tests. Postponing the problems won’t get rid of them.
Step 4: Wait and Accept the Results
Once the results are in, accept them as they are. I look forward to treating your depression and boosting your self-esteem. The psychiatrist may recommend an ESA to help elevate your self-esteem.
How Will it Affect You?
Continually having an ESA by your side will do wonders for your self-esteem and overall mental health.
Number#5: ESAs Help Pull You Out of Social Isolation
When depression hits, you will start to withdraw from social functions. Things such as parties, golfing sessions, weddings, or other social gatherings will no longer excite you. A person is a social being, and lack of it may be detrimental to their mental and physical health.
Sad as it may be, this pandemic may lead more people into depression due to the lockdown. Staying isolated leads to negative thoughts and may cause harm to one’s life. It’s even possible to have thoughts of harming oneself or even committing suicide.
Staying isolated is draining and a source of maniac problems. When one is out socializing, they get to interact with other people and even chat about your problems. When you don’t want to talk to other people due to fear of judgment, then an ESA will be of help.
It’s therapeutic to talk to an ESA since they won’t judge you. It may sound silly, but it’s a great way of venting out what’s eating you up even when you are isolated. An ESA is a furry friend, and you can talk to it as you would your friends.
Dogs have been known to understand and even empathize with what their owner is going through. While they may not respond, they will provide a listening ear that is therapeutic in itself.
To get an Emotional Support Animal, follow these four steps:
Step 1: Pick Any Signs of Depression
Observe any changes in your that could be signs of depression. Are you always gloomy and angry? Are you always turning down invitations to attend events hosted by your friends? Do social events seem cumbersome and meaningless to you? Chances are you are depressed.
Step 2: Consult Your Psychiatrist
If you pick up any of these signs and symptoms, you need to consult a mental health doctor. Explain to them that you are feeling lonely and want to hide from the world. Tell the doctor everything that makes you anxious to help them understand what’s going on.
Step 3: Get Through Tests
The doctor will recommend some tests to determine where the problem lies. Ensure that you go through with tests since it’s part of the solution.
Step 4: Your Test Results
Once the results are in, the doctor will take you through the test report and recommend the necessary measures to help you recover. One such measure has an ESA with you at all times.
How Will it Affect You?
Having an ESA with you will pull you out of isolation and make you a happy social being.
Number#6: ESAs Add Positivity to Life
Staying optimistic in the current world is difficult. There are too many negative things going on. Whether one likes it or not, they will make you feel sad, scared, and hopeless. Staying positive about life has become quite tricky. It’s even worse for a person going through depression.
The constant pressure to succeed has left people feeling the need to achieve great needs within a short period. Those that haven’t made it in life are often rebuked and ridiculed. Peer pressure to live a good life has made the world highly competitive.
Moving forward with life once you make a mistake or fail to achieve certain things can be difficult. Dusting yourself up when life throws you down isn’t an easy thing. Not everyone can move past disappointments and failures.
However, with the right companion and support, you can get back to hustling and grinding. What better way to this than having an Emotional Support Animal to cheer you on.
These animals need constant care and attention. Therefore, they will make you get up and provide it to them. These furry friends are the nudge you need to get back on track when life knocks you down. They will provide you with the necessary support and comfort.
The affection that you will receive from these animals will help you see the good side of life. They will bring natural happiness into your life and help you remain positive.
Here are four easy steps to help you become positive about life using an ESA:
Step 1: Watch Out for Any Behavioral Changes
You need to be on the lookout for any sudden changes in your behavior. Do you suddenly get irritated by petty things? Do you suddenly start crying for no reason? Are you feeling lonely and cut out from your social circles? Jot these behavioral changes in a journal.
Step 2: Engage a Healthcare Provider
Get in touch with a mental health provider and book an appointment. Take the journal with you and openly discuss its contents.
Step 3: Carry out Some Tests
After the consultation, the doctor will recommend some tests to determine the problem. Obey and carry out the tests.
Step 4: Wait for the Test Results
On receiving the results, the mental doctor will highlight where the problem lies. If it’s depression, the doctor may recommend therapy through the use of an Emotional Support Animal.
How Will it Affect You?
Having an ESA will help keep away negative thoughts and bring back positivity into your life.
Number#7: ESAs are a Source of Love and Care
The fact that a furry friend can be loyal and non-judgmental is a symbol of love and care. ESAs are from a different species from human beings, yet they can empathize and provide solace to a depressed soul. They can constantly express love through snuggles and playful actions. Such signs of love and care are perfect for depression therapy.
A quick search of ‘caring animals’ on Youtube will attest to the fact that animals can have a deep connection with their owners. They can be protective and loving during rough times. They can empathize when the owner is in a bad mood or state. They tend to go the extra mile of cheering you up when you feel down.
When someone repeatedly shows you love and care, you stop feeling miserable and become positive about life. The presence of an ESA will provide feelings of love and care since their feelings towards you are unconditional.
To get the love and care offered by an ESA, follow these four steps:
Step 1: Examine Yourself for Symptoms of Depression
Behaviors such as low self-esteem, negative and suicidal thoughts, feeling that one is hated by others, unusual aggression towards life, or a general feeling of hopelessness are all signs of depression.
Step 2: Consult a Doctor
If you notice any of the above symptoms, you need to set up an appointment with a mental health doctor. Engage them on various behaviors that you believe are off.
Step 3: Go Through Tests
The next step involves doing some tests to help determine the problem. Take heart and commit to doing the tests.
Step 4: Wait for the Test report
Once the test results are out, the doctor will discuss them with you. If indeed, you are suffering from depression, they may recommend an ESA as a way of dealing with depression.
How Will it Affect You?
The love and care shown by an ESA will help elevate your mood and remain positive about life.
Number#8: ESAs help you Find Purpose in Life
Loss of purpose in life can lead to depression. One always feels worthless and useless. Life is full of ups and downs. Some days will bring joy, while others will be filled with sadness. It’s just how life is. Finding one’s purpose in this life is key to a healthy life, both physically and mentally.
In life, one constantly needs the motivation to get back on track. One thing that can provide you with the necessary motivation is an Emotional Support Animal. These animals give you a reason to look at life positively and bring back hope to situations.
As you feed them, take them for a walk and play around with them, you will find meaning to life. The bond between you and an ESA grows each and becomes a constant reason for living. You will love them, and they will reciprocate.
In case you have lost meaning in life, here are four steps to bringing it back:
Step 1: Look Out for Signs of Mental Disorders
Loss of appetite, irritability, aggressiveness, loss of sleep, lack of energy, and constant fatigue are common signs of depression. Once you notice any or majority of them, it’s time to visit your mental health provider.
Step 2: Talk to Your Doctor
Once you visit the doctor, give them an in-depth look into the emotions and behaviors that are worrying you.
Step 3: Undergo Certain Tests
Once they take your medical history, they may recommend some tests to help make a diagnosis. Comply and go for the tests.
Step 4: Test Results
Once the results are in, and they indicate that you indeed have a mental health disorder, the physician may recommend getting an ESA as a way of recovering from it.
How Will it Affect You?
Having an ESA in your life will help bring purpose back into it. You will have the courage to face whatever tomorrow brings.
Number#9: ESAs Provide Companionship
In this life, getting an unconditional companion isn’t easy. We may lose friends and spouses along the way. While this is a part of the cycle of life, some people may find it challenging to find a companion all the time. Lack of one may result in feelings of loneliness and isolation, which may lead to depression.
However, with an emotional support buddy, you never have to worry about a lack of companionship. These animals are loyal, dependable, and provide you with unconditional love. The animals will listen as you pour out your worries. Show your affection by providing a cuddle and even show emotion on days when you are overwhelmed with sadness.
ESAs don’t discriminate regardless of gender, age, or social status. Their job is to provide you with tender loving care. Did you know that they miss you when you aren’t around? That’s the reason the moment you enter the door, they wag their tails and jump on you. How’s that for a perfect companion?
Therefore, ESAs are great companions when you are going through depression.
Here are four steps to help you get an ESA as a companion:
Step 1: Watch Out for Changes in Behavior
Have you noticed any changes in behavior that may indicate depression? They may include fatigue, lack of appetite, loss of sleep, prolonged sleeping, suicidal thoughts, among others. Note all these sudden changes in behavior down.
Step 2: Consult a Mental Health Physician
After some time, identify a mental health specialist and book an appointment. During the visit, discuss the things that have changed in your life and how they may have affected you to behave and respond to situations.
Step 3: Go Through Tests
The doctor will most likely send you for some tests to determine what could be wrong.
Step 4: Outcome of the Results
Depending on the outcome of the results, the mental health expert may recommend an ESA to help treat any mental health disorders that you may have.
Will it be Effective?
Emotional Support Animals are always on your side. They will provide you with companionship every second of the day, which will help get rid of any depression.
Number#10: ESAs Drive you Towards a Scheduled Routine
Motivation is a great driver in life. Loss of motivation makes one hopeless and mechanical. Without motivation, you will always be gloomy and sad. However, when you have a schedule that you need to follow daily, you will be motivated to get up and do what needs to get done. Such a system will provide you with the motivation you need to achieve your goals.
When you are living with an ESA, you will need to have a schedule for feeding, walking them, and even bathing them. With such an animal, they will nag you to stick to the schedule. While at first, it may seem like a bother since you are already depressed anyway, with time, it becomes a fun activity.
Similar to having a baby in your home, an ESA will demand certain things that you can’t afford to provide. It will be your responsibility to ensure that the animal is fed, played with, and walked daily.
Such a routine will take your mind off negative thoughts and improve your mental well-being. While the routine may have benefits for the support buddy, it will also have a positive impact on your life.
A study published by Lancet Psychiatry showed that those with a balanced routine were at a lower risk of suffering from mental disorders since their systems had a built-in clock (Circadian Rhythm). This rhythm helps maintain normal mental functions and stimulates the production of the necessary hormones for a stable life.
Having a system to follow each day leads to increased productivity. Enjoying one’s routine will reduce any chance of depression.
Here are four steps to follow to get an ESA:
Step 1: Look Out for Red Flags
You always need to be alert and pick up any behavioral changes in your life. Are you always tired and irritable? Have you lost weight suddenly? Is it hard to fall asleep, or do you sleep for prolonged hours? All these could be signs of depression.
Step 2: Consult a Therapist
In case you notice any of these things, you need to seek the services of a therapist. Such people are experts at treating mental health disorders.
Step 3: Go Through the Recommended Tests
If the therapists recommend some tests, go through with them. Some may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary for proper diagnosis.
Step 4: Patiently Wait for Results
Don’t be anxious as you wait for the results. Once they are in, the mental health doctor may recommend getting an ESA to help treat your mental condition.
Will it Work?
Having an ESA ensures that you create a routine that brings balance and responsibility into your life. Ultimately, routines help keep negative thoughts away.
Number#11: ESAs Provide Relief from Stress
These days triggers of stress are littered everywhere from people losing jobs due to the pandemic to the high cost of living. The number of mental health patients has grown tremendously over the years. When one is stressed, they can’t function well. They project their feelings by behaving in a hostile manner, which may harm or irritate others.
Increased stress may result in diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Having an ESA may help get rid of stress in your life or at least manage it well. Not everyone is good at stress management. Some people need help, and an ESA is a great stress reliever.
These animals are trained to understand human emotions. They can tell when you are sad or happy and act accordingly. When sad, they may goof around to try and make you smile. It’s hard to remain sullen with an ESA around.
According to an article published on Science Daily, interacting with an animal for a couple of minutes daily helps alleviate stress. Such interaction helps reduce the production of a stress indicator hormone known as cortisol.
Stroking your ESA helps calm your mind and provides comfort. When you are comfortable, stress is low, and depression won’t creep in. They provide a perfect distraction from your mind drifting into negative thoughts.
When dealing with stress, you need an ESA. Here are four steps to help you get one:
Step 1: Look for Signs
Always be on the lookout for signs of depression such as loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy, sudden loss in weight, feeling hopeless, loss of appetite, and insomnia. Record them so that you may present them to the doctor when you visit.
Step 2: Talk to Your Doctor
When ready, book an appointment with a mental health specialist and carry the journal where you were recording everything. Discuss it in detail.
Step 3: Take Tests
The specialist will most likely recommend some tests to help figure out what could be wrong.
Step 4: Listen to the Doctor
Once the results are in, follow the doctor’s advice. In case you do have a mental disorder, the doctor may recommend an ESA to help you deal with the condition.
Will it Work?
Having an ESA will help alleviate stress. There’s never a dull moment with these furry friends around. In no time, you will be living a happy life that you deserve.
Hopefully, we have given you 11 legit reasons to choose an Emotional Support Animal to help fight depression. Our comprehensive coverage of the benefits of these support buddies will prove helpful in guiding you towards recovery from depression. Say no to negative thoughts and live your best life. You deserve it.