It is an especially disheartening time for Americans. The loss of daily routines, self-isolation, and everyday growing cases of the coronavirus has caused emotional stress to most of us. So, it should not come as a surprise to see Instagram feeds loaded with pictures of cats, dogs, and even emotional support animals. All these companion animals are rising to the occasion and providing extra emotional support. Particularly to individuals who already suffer from mental health problems.
Pets are serving as true companions in these crucial times. Whether you see celebrities posting videos of their favorite animal on social media channels or people serenading their cats and dogs. The quarantine phase has boiled down to delivering stay at home video messages while miniature horses and donkeys steal the show. For instance, a recent video posted by Selene Gomez, who also suffers from mental health problems such as depression, and bipolar disorder showed off her brand new pup keeping her company during these crucial times.
This instinct to turn to animals during the pandemic is natural and supported by scientific evidence. Not only this but over the past few years, most people have noted that animals particularly dogs share a special bond with humans. They provide humans with non-judgmental support and can help everyone cope with social isolation. Given the fact that most of us are either under quarantine or self-isolation, animal contact can help ease the anxiety and stress situation. That said, let us first look into some scientific evidence supporting everything that I have just stated above.
In line with the research for this topic, I came across an article and a few Instagram posts that determined animals can definitely help people cope up with the quarantine stress. One such article stated that walking a dog during these tough times can help you remain sane. Another couple brought a four-month-old dog named Barry home in order to fight the quarantine blues. In fact, if you go online you can also read various articles on how people are adopting puppies and other animals to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, there is no doubt about the fact that animals can prove great companions during these crucial times. However, the main question is whether or not pets and emotional support animals provide mental support. Without further adieu let us look at some research and scientific evidence.
A 2019 study revealed that dogs can synchronize with human emotions particularly stress, anxiety, and depression. Another study showed that contact with pets can help alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Also, in a recent message conveyed by an assistant professor of anthropology and director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center, it was revealed that dogs can ease the negative impact mental health problems can have on our minds.
In addition, several studies show that animals can also help adults and elderly cope with isolation and loneliness. An expert from the Human-Animal Interaction published research on the same topic and the study went on to say that animal companies in the case of older adults can prove really beneficial. It can help them feel safe and most vitally animals or pets can provide older adults with comfort in times of social isolation.
How Do Emotional Support Animals Help People?
Animals fundamentally play different roles in supporting human’s emotional health, particularly emotional support animals. The clinical meaning of an emotional support animal is any animal that provides support to its owner in order to overcome specific disabilities. There are several ways in which an ESA can help and we have listed a few effective ways in the write-up below. Read on to find out.
They Help Produce Neurotransmitters
Patients suffering from depression usually consume antidepressants. The function of antidepressants is to increase serotonin levels. On the other hand, dogs also help increase the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with bonding, love, and a feeling of pleasure. Not only this but there are studies associated to prove the same fact.
According to a study the production of dopamine increases as soon as you look into the eyes of the dog. In other words, by looking at your dog you can feel less depressed. In fact, many experts believe that dogs can also help increase the capacity of love in humans. So, people who are lonely or spend most of the time trying to avoid people’s company can actually seek comfort and support in animals. An animal around them will help them feel safe and positive at the same time.
Emotional Support Animals Help Calm Anxiety
Anxiety can cause an individual to feel out of place. Anxiety also leads to a decrease in work productivity and deteriorates mental health if left untreated. The reason why most anxiety patients seek emotional assistance. Some in the form of emotional support animals while others take medications to deal with anxiety symptoms. Now, the actual problem with anxiety patients is that they feel frightened in large groups of people. They have a difficult time making friends and sometimes even medicines fail to curb anxiety and panic attacks.
This is where comes the role of emotional support animals. They will help you deal with anxiety in a very different way. You don’t have to depend on medications and your pet will help you focus on positive things. For instance, you channelize all your positive energy through your pet and focus on your pet when you feel overwhelmed.
ESA’s Provide Unconditional Love
Having an ESA can help patients with depression and anxiety feel loved. Which in most cases is the cause of depression? According to a study, one out of five Americans feel the need to be left alone when they are suffering from the initial stages of depression. The situation can get worse with time and negative thoughts can cause the mind to think irrationally. However, an emotional support animal can help generate a feeling of love and positivity. Not only this but the company of a pet or an ESA can help you feel connected. You will get unconditional love from your animal that most people struggle to find or receive from others.
Although this doesn’t mean that mental health patients with an ESA cannot connect with other people. The company of an ESA simply means that they will provide unconditional support and love. In fact, many health experts are of the view that animals love can dramatically improve the patient’s overall mental health. Eventually, with time the debilitating nature of these mental health conditions will also improve. This will help the patients re-engage in day-to-day activities while the patients continue to have a loving relationship with their animal.
ESA’s Work In Conjunction With Other Treatment Methods
Psychologists believe that emotional support animals can provide support to patients dealing with mental health problems. However, ESAs should be incorporated into other treatment methods. After all, in some severe cases only having a pet cannot suffice the need. If ESAs are integrated with other treatment methods it will allow the patient to benefit a lot. In fact, some mental health specialists advise the patients to take cognitive-behavioral treatment in conjunction with emotional support animals.
So, talk to your mental health specialist through the process of telemedicine and find ways to include your ESA in the existing treatment plan. For instance, say you have an emotional support animal in phoenix. The ESA can be a part of mindfulness techniques. This technique helps patients stay grounded and connected with the present. The perfect example of ESAs integration in the mental health treatment plan is through the Trauma Resiliency Model. In this model, a patient can utilize the ESA as a resource in order to keep the patient away from emotional high and low.
They Can Help Stabilize Intense Emotions
For those who see animals as their companions, best friends, and family members, there is good news for them. ESAs can help these owners by acting as social companions. As a matter of fact, if you are close to your pet and you interact with your pet on a regular basis, your pet will feel psychologically close to you. As a result, they will provide you with love and comfort just like other people do.
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social, Psychology animals can greatly support humans when their emotions are completely dysregulated. So, ESAs are not just for walks and steadying negative emotions. They contribute towards the overall mental health of a patient. They also help regulate intense emotions by motivating their owners to improve physical well-being. All in all, the relationship between humans and animals itself is healing.
More than 20 percent of the adult population in America suffer from anxiety, and over 7 percent suffer from depression. And guess what? It is extremely difficult to analyze what a person with mental health problems looks like. That said and keeping all the mental health diagnosis in mind. It becomes even more vital to analyze the work of an ESA on the patient’s mental health. As of now, it is safe to say that your furry friend or even other types of emotional support animals can provide great relief. Published By Healthzigzag.com
About The Author
Alfred Collins is a writer by profession. She is working with ESA Dr. Phoenix it is one of the best medical clinics in Phoenix, AZ. He always aims at educating people about healthy living.
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