An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined provides benefit for an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not required to have any specialized training and can be of any species, although most ESAs are dogs. In the last few years, there has been an increase in individuals who claim they need an ESA to help them cope with their anxiety and depression issues in order to qualify for accommodations in schools, housing situations, and places of employment. If you think this sounds like you, here are 9 signs that it may be time to consider getting one:
- You have a hard time feeling safe in certain places:
If you feel like you are not safe when you are out in public, it may be time to get an emotional support animal. This is especially true if certain places like restaurants or grocery stores trigger anxiety and other debilitating symptoms that make it challenging for you to function normally on a day-to-day basis. But you need to ensure that you can provide for the ESA when you are out in public.
- You cannot deal with loud noises when you are trying to relax:
If outside sounds like sirens and car horns stress you out when they occur in your vicinity, it may be time to consider getting an ESA. Loud or sudden noise can trigger anxiety for some people and cause them a lot of distress when they try to find ways of relaxing after work or school. If this is the case for you, having someone by your side who will offer emotional support could make all the difference when it comes to dealing with these situations without fear or panic setting in.
- You have problems sleeping through the night:
Sleeping issues present themselves in different forms- from difficulty falling asleep due to racing thoughts, waking up frequently during sleep because of anxious feelings, to not feeling rested when you get up in the morning. If your lack of sleep is becoming a problem for both yourself and others, consider getting an emotional support animal who will provide companionship when no one else can or who may be able to help you relax enough so that you are capable of falling asleep.
- Someone at work/school has anxiety issues:
If someone around you seems like they have constant panic attacks or if their daily job tasks seem to cause them significant distress, it might be time for that person to start looking into whether an ESA could benefit them by providing comfort when needed. You never know what triggers another person’s anxiety until they open up about it- but if this person feels comfortable talking with you about how their mental health affects them, then it’s possible that they could benefit from an ESA. You can check all the details about ESA at www.esaregistration.org
- Anxiety when traveling:
If you find yourself becoming extremely upset when traveling away from home without your usual comforts of home- like your own bed or having access to a kitchen- this might be the time for you to consider getting an emotional support animal. For many people with mental health issues, one of the most stressful things can be not knowing what their living situation will look like when they arrive at their destination; whether there will be family and friends nearby who will make themselves available if needed; how far apart stores are located in relation to where they live; etc.
If these sorts of questions keep popping up during travel, having someone by your side who will not only provide emotional support but also physically be there when you need them can make a world of difference.
- You cannot function well in public settings:
People who suffer from anxiety or depression may find it very difficult to deal with social interactions or various other activities such as going to work every day, which means their performance at school and/or work suffers significantly because of how anxious and depressed they feel on a daily basis. If this is true for you, then it might be a good idea to consider getting an ESA when traveling until you can better cope with your anxiety and depression.
- When you find yourself dreading the thought of going out in public:
If this is true for you, there are a few signs that may indicate it’s time to get an emotional support animal when travel comes around, which include feeling like they do not want to leave their house or when leaving their home becomes difficult when they have no one else but themselves at home.
These types of people often feel very lonely because when someone has nobody by their side during times where they need some company most such as while on vacation, these people tend to feel isolated from society even though a lot of them wish deeply that this were not the case. Whether going out to grab a coffee, heading out for grocery shopping or when they have the urge to go take their dog for a walk in the park are all things that can be challenging due to this type of individual’s fears.
- You find yourself avoiding social situations:
If there are people, places, or things that bring up feelings of panic and fear when they come up in conversation, the best thing for your mental health might be to get an ESA so that at least one area of your life can remain constant instead of feeling like every aspect is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Having someone by your side when you are experiencing anxiety or depression is a much better way to cope with the symptoms when they do arise.
- You have limited energy:
One of the main contributors when it comes to coping with these kinds of situations is having too little energy, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally as well. If someone experiences even low amounts of stress on a daily basis, this can quickly take its toll when there isn’t enough time in the day for them to recharge their batteries because they’re constantly using up all their resources trying to get through each hour without succumbing to mental illness symptoms such as sadness, anger, panic attacks, etc. Having an ESA by your side gives you that added boost so that when things feel like they might be getting out of hand, you have that extra support to keep your symptoms at bay when it comes time for them to arise.
If you think that an ESA might be able to help you when it comes time for your symptoms to appear, consider getting one. There are plenty of resources out there from which you can get a prescription, as well as knowing when and where they’re allowed to accompany their handler so that no matter what situation arises, both human and animal remain safe.
Originally a dentist, Anna Strout has written for three years for pet and animal publications. Anna is also a historian who studies dog breed progression throughout the world, dabbles in animal law issues, and collects dog tales while traveling across the country with her husband and German Shepherd Dog, Luna. Anna kicks dust up dancing with Luna at home in Houston, Texas, where she teaches her obedience and tricks.