There is nothing purer than the relationship between an animal and a human. Pets love unconditionally and accept you for who you are. They don’t care if you have tons of money or live in the most beautiful home on the block; they just want your affection. That adoration is why emotional support animals prove effective at helping people cope with PTSD.
For the eight million people in the world that have post-traumatic stress disorder, the relationship with a pet goes far beyond that of love. These animals are therapeutic too. Suffering from PTSD can be challenging, especially when trying to do routine activities.
Emotional support animals or ESA as they are called are there to help manage the painful symptoms of a condition that few understand. These loving companions make it possible for some people to live, work, and drive. They should not be confused with service animals, which are different.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety-based condition that develops from a trauma. It’s common for someone to develop this condition after being in a car accident, being a victim of violence, or serving the country in war. Experts say that there are four categories that a person will experience after their trauma.
• Flashbacks and Reliving the Trauma
Keep in mind that the severity of the trauma and the symptoms you experience will differ, and no two cases are the same. The first symptom is flashbacks or reliving the trauma over and over again. When a person has these flashes, it can cause them significant discomfort.
They will experience things like an elevated heart rate, sweating, nausea, feeling of impending doom, or feel as if they will faint. They may also have nightmares where they wake up and relive the trauma in their sleep. Flashbacks are frequent, and they come from your thoughts or by a trigger from outside sources.
Avoidance comes from the mind’s attempt to keep from reliving the pain. For instance, if a person experiences a car accident, they may be fearful of being in a car. They may relate the vehicle to the trauma they felt, and this is where a support animal can help.
A person going through this stage of their recovery will have periods of insomnia, anger, irritability, and being on guard. This stage is similar and can turn into depression as this person will lose interest in things they love. It’s also not uncommon to feel guilt or shame for the things that have happened.
You may lash out at those around you for no reason. Dealing with the things that have happened to you is often more than your mind can bear, so it short circuits.
• Mood Disorders
The feelings that come along with post-traumatic stress disorder are overwhelming. If you have PTSD, you may feel like you are so overwhelmed with the burden of your mental torment that you feel suicidal.
It’s easy to develop other mental health disorders to go along with PTSD, such as depression, general anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks, and even personality disorders. Thankfully, emotional support animals have shown us that they can be a great source of comfort during some of the darkest times of life.
The Best Emotional Support Animals
Most people think that the best emotional support animals to combat post-traumatic stress disorder is a dog or a cat. However, there are many other animals approved and actively used as an ESA. Here are the different animals you should consider.
Dogs have been called man’s best friend because of their unique bond with humans. They are intuitive and can detect when a person is about to have a seizure or mental breakdown. Canines are used in police work and for emotional support animals because they are so in-tune with their master.
Many people with PTSD like the feeling of having a dog nearby. Taking them for a walk in the park or play fetch with a toy is a reason for you to get out of bed and get going. When you have PTSD, you will often have times where you feel isolated, but having a dog with you can help you to feel more in-tune with the world around you rather than detached.
Since there are more than 339 dog breeds, and they are divided into ten different categories. The breeds best serving as a support animal are as follows.
• Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
You may like this dog if you want a calmer and quieter animal. Since they are so gentle, they are suitable to be around children too. They are highly intelligent, which makes it easy to discern when you are in danger or about to have a panic attack.
Retrievers are extremely easy to train, and their larger size helps a person with PTSD to feel more grounded. These dogs will require you to take them for a walk and spend some playtime in the great outdoors.
If you struggle and sit behind four walls from your trauma, then they can give you a reason to get out and mingle. Being in nature is one of the best therapies for someone who has been traumatized.
If you live in an apartment or smaller space and want a dog that’s a bit more compact, then you should consider the schnauzer. These canines don’t tend to be yappers like some of the other smaller breeds.
They are easy to train, obedient, and very loyal to their master. If you want your mood to be uplifted, then you should consider one of these miniature varieties.
The Havanese is another dog that is great for PTSD people living in small spaces. They love to cuddle and sit on your lap, so if you need therapy that requires a dog being in your area always, then they are a magnificent emotional support animal for you to choose.
The standard or miniature poodles are both excellent options. They are very eager to please, which makes them a great ESA. These dogs have a long history of helping people during panic attacks or seizures. They also provide constant companionship.
Boxers are highly intelligent, can be fun to play with, and teach new tricks, and they are great if you want a more substantial animal. A person that is continuously fearing an attack from their trauma can be safer knowing that a large dog can protect them should they find themselves in a terrible situation again. Their muscular stature makes them appear to be mean, yet they are gentle giants.
Many other dog breeds are great for those who have PTSD that need emotional support animals. Do some research to find the best pup for you and your situation.
Cats are an excellent animal for those people that don’t want an animal that requires constant attention. The very nature of a feline is that of self-sufficiency. Cats are calmer than most dogs, but they are intelligent.
They can sense your emotions and provide companionship like their canine counterparts. Choosing the breed can be important when you are trying to select an emotional support animal. For instance, the Himalayans often tend to be extremely attached to their owners and more of a lap pet than others.
Some people who have PTSD cannot go outside, so a rabbit is an excellent choice for the indoor person. They don’t need to be walked or have constant attention, but they can still cuddle and provide companionship.
The biggest issue with keeping a rabbit inside is the mess. They do require constant cage cleanings and their food and water bowls filled once a day. Rabbits can use a harness and take a walk if you want to spend time outside with them.
Mini horses have become quite popular in recent times as support animals. Do you remember the story of the woman that took a horse on an airplane in 2019? A pony is about the size of a large dog. They are very intuitive and excellent companion. Plus, they can provide a good sense of protection due to their size.
A ferret may not be the best selection for everyone, but it’s certainly an interesting choice. They have a lot of energy, and they can be quite entertaining. They don’t like to snuggle or cuddle, but they can still have an excellent bond with their family. While they’re not for everyone, it’s certainly an option you can consider.
Life can be quite tricky if you have an anxiety-based condition like PTSD.
Thankfully, having an animal around for love and companionship can ease some of the symptoms.
If your condition is bad enough to have depression, panic attacks, mood disorders, and other ailments, then a pet can help to ease your mind and warn you of an impending incident.