Bipolar disorder is a mental condition associated with extreme mood swings. You experience a low mood during the depression episode—and high energy during the manic episode. Depression makes you feel sad and hopeless. On the other hand, the manic phase makes you hyperactive and euphoric. Each episode can last a few months.
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Bipolar disorder has no cure. So most people rely on drugs, among other support systems. However, psychiatric Service Dogs play a vital role in managing and treating people with mental disabilities. So can bipolar disorder get a psychiatric service dog? And how do these dogs help with bipolar disorder? Here’s what you need to know.
Psychiatric Service Dog for Bipolar Disorder
Service dogs can train on how to deal with bipolar disorders. In addition, they can perform various tasks depending on your needs and level of training. Best of all, dogs can tell you have a problem even before you know it.
Their sense of smell is over 10,000 times better than that of a human. So a psychiatric service dog can tell when you have chemical changes in your body which drive your emotions. They can thereby warn you before you do something harmful. If you’re in school or a workplace, this help can prove to be extremely useful.
Some of the psychiatric service dog tasks for bipolar disorder include:
- Retrieve your medication. The dog can fetch your medication stored in a specific location in your house. They can also help locate the bag where you keep your meds by searching for it.
- Bring water or beverage for swallowing the medicines. The dog can open the fridge or drawer, pick up a bottle of water and bring it to you. Then, go back to shut the fridge’s door.
- Retrieve the emergency phone. You can send the dog to get the emergency phone located in a specific place. If your mood swings escalate to life-threatening, the dog can use the K-9 telephone to call for help.
- Interrupt self-harming behavior. The depression state of bipolar can make you angry and sad to harm yourself. A trained dog will see the behavior and jump on you or start licking your face. Whichever way, the dog will divert your attention to help you stop the behavior.
- Wake you up in the morning. Depression can make you forget about your routine. When depressed, you may try to avoid waking up for school or work. But a psychiatric service dog can hear the alarm and wake you up. The dog can even use an ‘internal clock’ to know when to wake you up.
- Bring you back to reality. During a manic episode, you may experience delusion. Your service dog can help divert your focus through constant interruptions and bring you back to reality.
- Alert you in case of smoke. Depression episodes can make you inactive. You may not notice or be able to respond to danger. If a fire emergency occurs, your dog nags you until you act.
The psychiatric service dog tasks for bipolar disorder are many, and they can be lifesaving. Dogs can perform many more duties depending on their training and your needs. So, how can you get a psychiatric service dog for bipolar disorder? Below is a guideline.
How to Get a Service Dog for Bipolar
According to the ADA laws, a service animal must be a dog trained to perform work or a specific task. So if you’re thinking of getting a psychiatric service dog for bipolar, you should consider training your dog first.
Most dogs can still help you with emotional challenges even without training. However, this does not make their service dogs. The legal field does not recognize emotional support as a task carried out by service dog task. So you have to train your dog to perform specific duties related to your disability, not just any activity.
Training is what makes a difference between a service dog and a pet. A well-trained dog will be easier for you to handle while in public. Apart from task training, your dog must also be obedient, housebroken, and not show aggressive behavior or inappropriate sniffing. Simply put, your dog should meet the minimum training standard before visiting public facilities.
So, where can you get a service dog for bipolar? You can get one from organizations that train dogs. Each organization has its guidelines on applying for a psychiatric service dog with bipolar disorder. The only requirement is having a letter from a licensed healthcare provider showing that you have bipolar disorder.
A fully trained dog will cost you from $20,000 to $30,000. But it can cost you much less if you take your current dog for professional training.
Generally, all dogs can train to be service dogs. But some breeds are often preferred. For example, if you expect the dog to open heavy doors and carry luggage, you should consider a large breed.
The fab four, which are considered the best service dog breeds for bipolar disorder, include:
- Labrador retriever
- Standard Poodle
- Golden retriever
- Smooth collies
You can also benefit from other breeds. The essential thing to consider is the temperament of the dog.
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Can a Psychiatric Service Dog Help with Bipolar Disorder
If you don’t have a psychiatric service dog for bipolar disorder, you can still benefit from an ESA. The dog can provide you with companionship, which alleviates loneliness and depression. Plus, when you experience a manic episode, the dog can help calm you down.
Studies show that when humans interact with dogs, both experience a surge of oxytocin. This hormone helps to reduce stress and promote positive emotions. It also lowers the heart rate and reduces blood pressure.
So you can relieve some of your depression by cuddling the dog. Furthermore, walking your dog outdoors contributes a lot to depression relief. Finally, getting out of the house is considered an improvement for a depressed person.
An emotional support animal gives you more reason to leave your house. It boosts your confidence and morale. As a result, this strategy limits your depression episodes even without doing much outside.
An emotional support animal doesn’t need training. But you do need an ESA letter to gain access to public facilities. Sure, you won’t have as many rights as a service dog handler, but it will help you in most situations. Get in touch with us, and our licensed therapists will be more than willing to help you.