Emotional Support Animals for Anxiety

If you are experiencing anxiety, consider an emotional support animal (ESA).

An ESA can make your life better. A 2012 article in Frontiers in Psychology reviewed the benefits of being with animals including:

  • Less fear and anxiety
  • Better mood
  • Lowered stress
  • Less depression
  • Better social interaction
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate

An emotional support animal could be the difference between manageable and unmanageable anxiety.

What Exactly is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are linked to difficulties in dealing with everyday life. They are brought about by fear (about a real or perceived threat) and/or anxiety (worry about a future threat).

Anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – worrying too much about activities, events, and things generally not working out.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) – fear of being embarrassed in social situations.
  • Specific Phobia – over-the-top fear of something that most other people are not afraid of.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder – being uncomfortable with being away from home or people important in your life.
  • Panic Disorder – sudden panic combined with worry that the panic symptoms will return.

You may be experiencing anxiety if:

  • You worry about a lot of different things.
  • You think that you worry too much .   
  • You find yourself worrying more days than not.
  • You’ve been worrying like this for 6 months or longer.
  • You have trouble controlling your worrying.
  • You’ve noticed symptoms such as irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and/or muscle tension.
  • Your worrying is getting in the way of you doing your job, communicating with your family or doing other things that are important to your daily life.

Emotional Support Dogs for Anxiety

In addition to the benefits that might be offered by any emotional support animal, sharing your life with a dog can bring additional benefits, including:

  • Company. An ESA dog can provide friendship and love which can reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can often accompany anxiety.
  • Exercise. With anxiety, sometimes it’s tough to get motivated to exercise. Your ESA dog will encourage you to get up and take a walk, run or ride a bike. Not only is exercise important for physical health, but it can also improve the symptoms of a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety.
  • Time outdoors. Taking your dog for a walk means being outdoors. Being out in nature can be difficult for some people who experience anxiety or depression, but it can be beneficial for mental health. Also, time in the sun can increase vitamin D in your system, which has many health benefits, including mood improvement.

Are their specific dog breeds that make the best ESAs?

Although there are some breeds that have proven successful as ESAs, any dog that is willing to be a loving companion is a good choice. When considering an ESA dog, consider both your needs and the dog’s. For example, the dog should be a size you can handle and have space/room needs that you can provide.

Emotional Support Cats for Anxiety

Many people experiencing anxiety find cats to be an ideal choice for an ESA. Along with the benefits that might be generally provided by any emotional support animal, sharing your life with a cat can bring additional benefits, including:

  • Emotional outlet. A cat can be someone to talk to. Although cats cannot speak or specifically comprehend anxiety, they can serve as loving, non-judgemental companions who will listen without offering unwanted advice.
  • Calming. A laid back cat can have a calming effect, resting peacefully in your lap and purring. Stroking the soft fur of a cat can be very soothing.
  • Distraction. Caring for a cat from feeding to grooming to playing can provide a distraction, allowing you to focus on your ESA cat rather than the cause of your anxiety.

Anxiety and an ESA Letter

If you feel that your anxiety might be helped with an emotional support animal such as an ESA dog or ESA cat, you will need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner. With our extensive network of healthcare professionals, the DOGtor can help you as we have helped thousands of other Americans. The fast, easy and affordable process starts with a simple online questionnaire.

Do you qualify for an emotional support animal?

Start your questionnaire now – if you do not qualify,

you will receive a 100% refund.