7 Signs You Need an Emotional Support Animal Right Now
8 min read
They say loneliness is the disease of the 21st century and it certainly seems so. According to USnews, 3 in 4 Americans struggle with isolation. Though you can feel lonely during different periods of your life, typically, it happens in your 20s, in the mid-50s, and in the late 80s.
In your 20s, you make important decisions that might potentially affect the rest of your life. And while comparing yourself to your peers, it might seem (often delusionally) that you’re not doing so well. In the mid-50s, it’s the first time when you can experience a mid-life crisis. It’s exactly about that time when you re-evaluate your lifetime achievements. And finally, in your late 80s, you can feel helpless and vulnerable. That’s when comes the impression that no one understands the way you feel.
A modern lifestyle dictates certain criteria of what we consider to be a success. As you can see, isolation is seemingly connected to the way we evaluate ourselves. But it can also be the cause of some other related mental diseases. Whilst some medical conditions require a more sophisticated treatment, the others can be alleviated just by the presence of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
While in most cases it’s not a treatment in itself, ESA is a good addition to a therapy course. “It’s true that animals act almost like a biological spa treatment,” says Aubrey H. Fine, EdD, professor emeritus and a licensed psychologist at California State Polytechnic University. In this article, we’ll have a look at the 7 most common signs that show you might be needing an ESA right away!
So how do I know that I need an ESA right now?
First things first, you need to have a medical condition that can serve as a basis for granting an ESA letter. So, let’s have a look at some signs that can be signaling that you have a specific need in emotional support animal.
Do you feel sad, unmotivated, desperate? Do you experience a lack of energy? Have no appetite and trouble sleeping? Lost interest in most of the activities that you had once enjoyed? And that all has been lasting for more than two weeks? Well, chances are that you might be having depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Depression is a medical illness that can significantly affect the way you think, or perform normal daily tasks. Feeling down from time to time, or in hard circumstances is normal. Prolonged periods of depression or short periods of extreme depression are not.
If periods of depression change periods of extreme happiness, exaltation, anger or obsessiveness, you may have a Bipolar disorder. Both can be extremely disruptive of a person's life if left unattended. Please, see a licensed mental health professional to get advice on how to manage it better. There are many ways to do it. Getting a lively and happy-go-lucky kind of dog might help. First, a dog requires a daily routine of walking and feeding it. Doing a daily routine is a good way to manage depression. Second, an active dog needs exercise and so does a depressed person. And doing exercises together with a pup isn't much of a chore. And the last thing, dogs are generally very attuned to their owners and give space and affection where and when it's needed. Just make sure not to get a dominant dog as this can be too much to handle even for the toughest of us.
Do you have trouble concentrating on the task at hand? Do people regard you as unattentive, impulsive, undisciplined or slovenly? Are you always in a rush but also always late? Is it hard to stop talking when you need? Do you tend to answer questions when people only uttered them halfway? Well, we are all like that sometimes. If it has been like it for a long time, and it disrupts your study, career or family life. You may have an attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder or ADHD for short. Again, there is nothing shameful in seeing a professional about it. A trained and practicing specialist can tell you how to manage and minimize a negative effect it has on your life. An ESA might help you to get into a routine of looking after it but it also might distract you quite a bit, so something not as active and noisy might be a good pick. A turtle, hamster or a goldfish to name a few.
Do you feel tired and on edge all the time? Is it hard for you to relax? Do you worry too much? Do you worry about things unrelated to your life? For instance: news or celebrities’ lives? Can you consciously stop worrying after you have started? Does it go on for days? Then maybe you have an anxiety disorder. Have you noticed seemingly unprovoked panic attacks? Are you worried about your heart attacks afterward? Do you try to avoid situations and circumstances where a panic attack might repeat itself? You might have a panic disorder. In both cases, you should seek professional help. An ESA, say, a cute kitten might calm you down with its delicate soft purring. Cats are very good at sensing and reducing stress and anxiety.
Did you undergo a particularly stressful or traumatic experience in the past? Can't forget or recall it? Do you have flashbacks of events surrounding it? Keep getting visions of it or wake up in the middle of the night, scared and angry? Are you irritably fragile or angry often? Did anyone tell you that you grew absent in the middle of discussion without you even noticing it? It might be PTSD.
Have trouble winding down or relax even when in the comfort of your home, did you have an out of body experience? Do people regard you as being distant or unattached to reality? Do you experience chest pains nausea or headache often? You might have an acute stress disorder. A good mental health counselor can teach you everything you need to know about handling it, and after you start your treatment, it's only a matter of time. However, an ESA might be a great help on the way if you are into animals. A lot of veterans benefit greatly from the help of support animals. Stress disorders is probably an area where emotional support animals are most effective.
You are regarded as pedantic! Are you obsessed with order and symmetry? Can't stop cleaning your apartment or doing dishes as they never seem clean enough. Or on the contrary, you keep hoarding items you don't need. Are you constantly worried about friends and relatives and check on them all the time? Do you check all the locks and switches and stress about it a lot? These are the common symptoms of OCD. ESAs are not recommended straight away for OCD. But after you went through a good part of your therapy under the supervision of a mental health professional, an ESA might be a good help in not reverting to obsessive states. Just don't pick an animal that is too active or messy.
Age-related cognitive decline
Are you getting a little bit older? Is it getting hard to focus on mental tasks for a long time? Can’t remember things as well as you used to? Or is it getting harder for you to control your emotions? It’s a normal part of aging and old age is an integral part of life. But there are some easy ways to mitigate it. Thus, there is a diagnosis name for this condition — Age-Related Cognitive Decline. For one ask your physician for dietary suggestions. An ESA might help as well by improving the quality of life.
If you have any other mental condition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), you probably can receive an ESA as a treatment from your psychiatrist or counselor.
But please note: this article is not a medical advice and serves for purely informational purposes. In order to diagnose any condition, you must be examined by a professional mental health specialist. Don’t rely on self-assessment!
Nice. How do I get one?
ESA letters are issued by state licensed medical professionals, either live or online
Well, for one you need to have your condition diagnosed. And then have an ESA prescribed to you by the same or a different practitioner. Here is the list of practitioners who can legitimately diagnose mental disorders and provide an ESA letter:
- Licensed counselors psychologists and social workers (LPC and LMHP in some states);
- Psychiatrists (M.D.);
- Physicians (M.D.) can also prescribe ESAs and diagnose some disorders.
It`s important that they must be licensed in a state where you live as licensees rarely move over the state borders.
Did we mention an ESA letter?
Yes, we did. It's important that you remember to get it from a doctor. ESA is a document in which a mental health professional proves that you have a condition and an ESA is required. You can use it for taking your ESA to the plane cabin with you free of charge. Or, take an ESA with you while moving in, even if a manager or a landlord prohibits pets. A useful item, all in all.
There is so much stress and suffering in a person’s life. It can be hard to manage it for all of us. There is no reason to make it harder for yourself and stubbornly reject help from a professional, if it's needed. And if you are an animal person, there is a definite upside in getting treatment. Animals can help us in a lot of ways. Having a trusty friend by your side is always good. A home is just that little bit more welcoming when you have a pet waiting for you. Their joyful antics bring us laughter. And their unconditional support and friendship is the most precious gift.