Planning to get a service dog for anxiety disorder? Here’s what you should know about it.
RELATED: Anxiety In Moms | Why Motherhood Is A Strong Source Of Anxiety And What To Do About It
In this article:
- What Is a Service Dog?
- All About Having a Mental Health Therapy Dog
- Other Ways of Coping with Anxiety
What Everyone Should Know About Getting a Service Dog for Anxiety
What Is a Service Dog?
Assistance dogs play a major role in helping people with disabilities. The most common ones we see are guide dogs that assist patients with hearing and visual disabilities.
However, in recent years, the use of a support animal is no longer limited to those who have trouble hearing or seeing their surroundings. In fact, medical developments have made it possible for those with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety to get a psychiatric service dog!
Emotional Support Animal
A psychiatric service dog or emotional support dog is an animal that provides practical and emotional assistance to people with anxiety, mental illness issues, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder, among others.
Having an emotional support animal is helpful when a patient is having an anxiety attack or mental breakdown.
Animals can give patients the warmth and comfort they need during difficult panic attacks. Also, when patients find it hard to move, their psychiatric service dog can fetch their mental health medication for them.
All About Having a Mental Health Therapy Dog
Roles and Duties
Through service dog training, specific dog breeds are trained to become efficient service animals able to provide both emotional and practical support. You can count on trained service dogs to do the following:
- Detect stress disorder symptoms before the anxiety attack kicks in
- Fetch anxiety disorder medication during panic attacks
- Call for outside help in the event of breakdowns
- Protect patients from strangers when they’re having an anxiety attack
- Calm the patient by licking their face, cuddling them, and placing their paws on the patient’s body
- Apply specialized psychiatric disability deep pressure treatments when necessary
- Remind patients to take the medication their mental health professional prescribed
- Ensure the patient is in a safe environment free of hazards
Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Pet
Apart from the emotional and functional support of a service pet, they can also help you grow and develop as an individual. Some ways you’ll benefit from having a service dog for anxiety are:
- Encourages Exercise: Having an emotional therapy pet will force you to adopt a more active and healthy lifestyle. You’ll have to go on walks and play with your dog on a regular basis. Small, simple activities such as these are vital in alleviating the symptoms of various mental and physical illnesses. No longer will you be a couch potato!
- Provides Company: Perhaps one of the most common reasons patients get a service dog for anxiety is they want someone to keep them company. Luckily, having a dog means you won’t be alone anymore. Dogs are simple, loving creatures that provide 100% pure friendship.
- Lessens Stress: In a 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers found that having a pet dog may significantly lower the risk of anxiety among children. So even at an early age, you can help your kids develop good mental health and fortitude by giving them a pet to take care of.
- Stimulates Interpersonal Development: Contrary to popular belief, having a pet won’t make you want to shut yourself out from the world. In fact, you may be able to build a bigger social circle once you become a pet owner. You get to talk to shop owners, fellow dog lovers, and even patients who have their own service dog for anxiety.
- Lowers Blood Pressure Levels: Along with the improved mood and reduced stress comes better blood pressure levels!
How to Get a Service Dog for Anxiety and Depression
Patients can request a service dog for anxiety if they meet criteria such as a:
- Condition debilitating one’s psychological health
- Letter of recommendation from a mental health professional
- Willingness to attend handler training sessions
- Capability to take care of and provide for a pet
- Good home environment
- Unwavering love for dogs
Now, some patients do not qualify for a service dog because of the high costs associated with owning one.
Most Americans with disabilities spend around $30,000 to $40,000 for a service dog. The numbers are this high because of the specialized training fees.
In cases such as this, they can still opt to get an emotional support animal.
A service dog is a professionally trained animal who can perform very specific tasks and duties. They undergo more than 600 hours of specialized training, which is primarily the reason why they’re so expensive.
Meanwhile, an emotional support animal is any pet the patient wants to take care of.
Despite not having professional training, emotional support pets can still provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. After all, having a friend by your side already improves your mood.
Service Dog Breeds
Generally, you can train any dog to become a service dog for anxiety. So it doesn’t really matter what breed you choose.
What’s important is their individual ability to learn the training program. Not every dog has the temperament or attitude to become a pro service animal.
The most common service dog breeds though are:
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
Other Ways of Coping with Anxiety
Keep in mind that getting a service dog isn’t the only way to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Other effective ways of coping with mental health problems are:
- Understand the Cause: Patients need to understand what causes their anxiety. They should know what triggers attacks so they can avoid these elements in the future.
- Take Effective Supplements: Hormones heavily affect one’s mental health. Most cases of mental health problems stem from hormonal imbalance. Apart from following the prescribed medication, you can also take supplements such as Dr. Seeds Chill Pill. It’s an effective blend of anti-anxiety compounds that provide fast-acting relief. In fact, you can feel relief in as quick as 2o minutes from taking the Chill Pill!
- Live Healthily: Poor eating habits plus an inactive lifestyle is the perfect recipe for poor mental health. If you want to become mentally stronger, then you have to improve your physical state as well. Exercise more often, ditch the junk foods, reduce alcohol intake, and stop smoking!
Getting a service dog for anxiety is definitely a great way to get over your mental health issues. They’ll be there to provide whatever emotional and practical support you need.
Remember, never feel ashamed or afraid to seek help. Once you learn to conquer your fears and take the first step toward self-improvement, we promise that things will become a lot easier.
What dog breed would you choose if you needed a service dog for anxiety? Share your answers in the comments section below!
- What Are Nootropics And What Can They Do For Your Brain?
- 11 Best Nootropics And Smart Drugs To Boost Brain Function
- Memory Lapses: What’s Normal And When To Seek Help