Depression is a mental health disorder that affects how individuals think, feel and respond to situations. It is treatable once it has been diagnosed, and there are many different ways to treat it, including using medication and therapy. There are many other natural ways to treat it, too, and one of these is to use emotional support animals (ESAs).
While service animals are trained to assist individuals with physical disabilities like vision or mobility impairments, ESAs can help those with mental and emotional health problems. As depression often causes feelings of isolation and loneliness, ESAs offer companionship and affection. Any animal can become an ESA to help people suffering from depression, but some are more uniquely suited to this than others.
Dogs are known as man’s best friend for a good reason. Many of them are very affectionate and quickly become attached to their owners. Obedient, friendly breeds that enjoy cuddles and provide good companionship are suitable ETAs for those suffering from depression. They have a reason to get up in the morning because they have to feed their dogs and take them outside to give them some exercise. This is helpful for dogs and their owners.
People suffering from depression often feel isolated and lonely. A dog can offer them companionship and act as a buffer in social situations. It can provoke conversations and encourage daily interactions. Caring for a dog can help to build the belief that it is possible to control a given outcome, which is helpful to people with depression.
Some dog breeds that make good ETAs include Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Yorkshire Terriers.
Emotional support animals like dogs can live with someone, even if the landlord doesn’t allow pets. All they need is a legitimate letter from a licensed healthcare practitioner or mental health provider confirming the diagnosis of depression. ESAPet can organize an online appointment with a qualified practitioner who will provide such a letter.
Cats are quiet, clean and non-intrusive. They are also very observant and intuitive, which makes them good ESAs, especially for depressed people. When they sense from someone’s emotional cues that they are depressed, their comforting presence can be very helpful.
Playing with a cat increases serotonin and dopamine levels which lift the mood. There’s a perception that cats are aloof, anti-social and independent, but this is not necessarily true and applies to some breeds more than others. The very fact that cats are independent can make them more suitable as ESAs for depressed people because they are not that demanding in terms of care.
Being able to rhythmically pet a cat is very soothing, and when they respond by purring, it is a comforting sound. The purring has a meditative quality which has positive health benefits. Cats also fulfill the human need for touch, which depressed people may miss because they battle to reach out to other people. Cats are also very trainable and enjoy living with people. On bad days, their presence can significantly help those suffering from depression.
Some of the best cat breeds to act as ETAs for depressed people are the Siamese, Manx, Russian Blue and Abyssinian. They are all docile and loving, which helps their owners to bond strongly with them.
Ferrets are small, quiet, social and attentive. They do not trigger allergies like other furry pets and don’t need much space or outdoor access. It is easy to litter-train them, so the living space stays clean. The maintenance requirements for having a ferret are minimal, and they can help to break the cycle of depression by becoming a source of comfort and companionship.
Ferrets are also very intelligent animals and can respond empathetically. As they enjoy burrowing closely against someone’s body, they can be a great source of comfort for someone who is depressed. They can give their owners purpose in life, and one of their most valuable traits is that they have happy personalities and are playful and entertaining. Happy ESAs are always better for people who need emotional support, such as those suffering from depression, and if they are entertaining and interactive, so much the better. Ferrets are always interested in what is going on with their owners and can help to boost morale and bring laughter into someone’s life.
The mental health benefits of having emotional support animals far outweigh the burden of having to take care of them. The strong emotional bond that develops between owners and their ESAs can have powerful therapeutic benefits. Dogs and cats are the most commonly used emotional support animals, but there are also more unconventional ones, such as ferrets, that can work very well as ESAs too. The only requirement is to get a legitimate letter from a licensed mental health professional.