Companion Dog for Depression – What You Need to Know

By: Prairie Conlon Updated: December 21, 2023

What is Depression?

Depression is defined as a state of low mood and apathy or aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and overall sense of well-being.

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that an estimated 17.3 million adults in the US had at least one major depressive episode. Those who suffer from depression can feel sad, empty, anxious, hopeless and helpless. They may also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. Depression can affect decision making, cause relationship difficulties and can lead to fatigue, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.

This is where a companion dog for depression could be a great way to help lessen or alleviate depression.

Types of Depression

There are many types of depression. Some of these include; Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder and Post-Partum Depression, just to name a few.

Persistent Depressive Disorder or dysthymia, as it is formally known, is described as major depression that has lasted longer than 2 years.

Bipolar Disorder is characterized as suffering from manic depression in conjunction with extreme and uncontrollable highs and lows.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common form of depression that usually occurs in the winter months, due to the shorter days and lack of sunlight.

Finally, Post-Partum Depression is a form of depression that new moms suffer from following childbirth. Once upon a time, Post-Partum Depression was a taboo subject. More and more it is being discussed as a serious form of depression.

Depression may be reduced by the addition of an emotional support animal” href=”” data-wpil-keyword-link=”linked”>emotional support animal to your treatment plan. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional to see if an emotional support animal may be right for you.

If you do not have a doctor or LMHP, see if you qualify for an ESA today and get connected with an LMHP in your state.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support Animal

Symptoms of Depression

  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems
  • Feeling hopeless or being lost
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that once were pleasurable
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

What is a Companion Dog for Depression?

A companion dog for depression is also known as an emotional support animal or ESA. An emotional support animal is defined as an animal that, by just being with a person, mitigates the emotional or psychological symptoms associated with an owner’s condition or disorder.

An emotional support dog needs no special training, unlike a therapy or service animal. All that is needed for an ESA is a prescription from a licensed medical professional.

An ESA can greatly reduce symptoms during depressive episodes by just being present for that individual.

How does a Companion Dog for Depression Help?

When battling depression, simply leaving the house can boost your mood. Coupling the motivation to get out of bed and take your dog outside with the benefits of exercise can further increase the beneficial effects. A dog requires both leaving the house and physical interaction, and they require it on a consistent daily basis. Implementing a routine is another benefit that can help alleviate depressive symptoms.

Routine, unconditional companionship, motivation, and exercise to name a few are important when combating depressive symptoms, and dogs can be an excellent resource.

Companion Dog for Depression – Final Thoughts

The Fair Housing Act allows you to have an emotional support animal in your house or apartment even if they have a no pet policy. Be careful of sites asking you to pay for an ESA letter without communicating with a licensed medical or mental health official, as these are usually scams.

If a licensed mental health professional determines you qualify for an ESA, they will write you a prescription for an emotional support animal and you will be on your way to ending or alleviating your depression.

See If You Qualify for an ESA Today

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