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Benefits of Emotional Support Animals For Anxiety

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For someone struggling with panic disorders or even general anxiety, feelings of stress can be paralyzing. Even mundane tasks can prove difficult when left to their own devices. While regular mental health care is always beneficial, there are certain steps a person can take to maintain feelings of stability and calm. Many people have opted to adopt an emotional support animal for anxiety, which can be very beneficial to their overall wellness. Banyan Treatment Center Boca Raton, FL, explores these benefits and the steps necessary to find your own ESA.

Emotional Support Animal Benefits

Throughout much of history, animals have played a unique role in the lives of humans. Various species have offered companionship over the years, while certain animals have been domesticated to become valuable parts of a person’s family. Even more so, evidence has pointed to the beneficial role that animals like dogs have played in the subjective experience of anxiety.1 The presence of a familiar animal has been known to improve heart rate and blood pressure, plus they release stress-related hormones. This means they hold great potential in the management of anxiety disorders.

Depending on the animal and situation, an ESA can provide relief to people struggling with all types of anxiety-inducing situations, such as:

  • Entering a new environment
  • Moving homes
  • Studying for a test
  • Traveling by plane
  • Unfamiliar social situations
  • Functioning after a traumatic event

Having a beloved animal close by can help an individual foster a sense of calm and confidence and even give them the motivation to attempt things they otherwise would avoid.

What Animals Can Be ESA?

Any domesticated animal can qualify to be an ESA. Some of the best emotional support animals for anxiety include dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and even rats or other rodents. Each creature has its own unique benefits to provide to its owner. For instance, many people choose cats as emotional support animals because of their potential for companionship and relatively relaxed temperaments. Some people may even adopt a reptile as their companion.

Having a creature to care for and relax with can promote a great amount of comfort and healing. What is important to consider is that an emotional support animal for anxiety is different from a service animal, including how one goes about obtaining such a pet.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

While it is not difficult to buy or adopt a pet, qualifying a pet as an ESA requires a few extra steps. The most important step is to obtain a letter from a therapist, social worker, psychiatrist, or another mental health professional. This letter will confirm that you are suffering from a mental illness recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The document should be on official letterhead and will essentially act as your “prescription” for your emotional support animal.

Even though there are not any specific regulations surrounding an ESA, this letter should be taken whenever traveling with your animal. Additionally, it is worth keeping in mind that certain airlines or landlords may have their own policies regarding pets, so you should do your research ahead of time to avoid any potential issues.

Choosing to adopt an emotional support animal is an excellent option and can be a great addition to your recovery journey. Other steps that can be taken to heal would be looking into treatment programs like those found at Banyan’s Palm Beach rehab. Patients have access to a variety of effective therapy methods that promote healing and wellness, giving them a safe space to explore their struggles with a licensed counselor.

If you or someone you love is looking for sensational Florida mental health services, call Banyan Boca Raton at 888-280-4763 and speak with an intake specialist today.


  1. Frontiers - Presence of a dog reduces subjective but not physiological stress responses to an analog trauma

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At Banyan Boca, we will work with you. If you call us today at 888-280-4763, we will see how we may be able to help your loved one find sobriety.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.