For veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), emotional support animals (ESAs) can provide much-needed help. ESAs are animals that have been certified to provide comfort and companionship to veterans with PTSD, helping them cope with their symptoms and lead healthier, more productive lives. Here are a few reasons why military veterans suffering from PTSD should consider getting an ESA for themselves.
What is an Emotional Support Animal for Veterans?
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) for Veterans is an animal that has been prescribed to a veteran by a licensed mental health professional as part of a treatment plan for a mental health condition. ESAs are companion animals, such as dogs or cats, that provide emotional support and comfort to their owners. For veterans who may be struggling with conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health challenges, an ESA can offer a range of benefits. ESAs for veterans may be eligible for certain legal protections, such as the ability to live in no-pet housing and travel with their owner to hotels without having to pay exorbitant pet fees.
What is a Psychiatric Service Animal for Veterans?
It’s important to note that ESAs for veterans differ from Psychiatric Service Animals, specifically trained to perform certain tasks for their owners and are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ESAs, on the other hand, do not require any specific training and are not granted the same legal protections as Psychiatric Service Animals (PSAs), such as the ability to fly with your pet. However, they can still play an important role in supporting the mental health and well-being of veterans who may be struggling with the effects of their service.
If you aren’t sure as a Veteran whether you need an ESA or a PSA, contact us, and we will guide you through the process of getting your pet the certification needed.
Benefits of Having an ESA for Veterans Living with PTSD
Having an ESA can provide military veterans living with PTSD with numerous benefits. A few of these benefits include:
- Increased feelings of safety and security – ESAs can help veterans feel more secure in their environment, which may help reduce symptoms of anxiety or fear.
- Reduced feelings of isolation and increased feelings of companionship – Spending time with an ESA may help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness often experienced by those living with PTSD.
- Improved ability to cope – An ESA can be a great source of comfort during difficult times, providing unconditional love and emotional support when needed most.
- Greater confidence – Having an ESA around can also increase confidence in social situations, helping veterans feel more capable of interacting in public settings without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Emotional Support Animals Can Reduce PTSD Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Having an ESA can help reduce stress levels in individuals suffering from PTSD. This is because having an animal nearby serves as a distraction from the stressful situations they may experience and can be especially helpful during panic attacks or bouts of anxiety. Studies show that petting an animal increases serotonin levels in the brain, which can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the physical presence of a pet can provide comfort to someone who is feeling overwhelmed by his or her emotions.
Emotional Support Animals Provide Companionship and Comfort
ESAs are beneficial for treating symptoms and offer invaluable companionship to those suffering from PTSD. Studies have shown that spending time with animals can improve one’s mood, reduce feelings of loneliness, and even increase one’s lifespan! Having a pet around can also encourage veterans to take part in activities they may otherwise avoid due to their condition. For example, taking your dog on long walks or going out into nature together provides new experiences that may be enjoyable while helping your mental health at the same time.
Emotional Support Animals Can Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Another benefit of having an ESA is improved sleep quality. Many people with PTSD struggle with insomnia due to their condition (nine out of ten people with PTSD struggle with insomnia, according to the Sleep Foundation), but studies have found that having pets in the bedroom helps reduce stress levels before going to bed and leads to better quality sleep overall.
Having a furry companion nearby also serves as a reminder that you are not alone—this can be especially comforting for those who suffer from PTSD-related nightmares or intrusive thoughts about traumatic events they experienced in combat or elsewhere.
Studies have shown that getting adequate and restful sleep can help to reduce symptoms of PTSD, such as anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance. Sleep is believed to play a crucial role in processing and consolidating memories, which may help individuals with PTSD to better process and cope with their traumatic experiences.
Since some ESAs, and most PSAs, can even be trained for alertness, it can really help veterans remain aware of their surroundings during sleep cycles—a valuable trait for those recovering from trauma-based flashbacks or night terrors.
Emotional Support Animals Encourage Exercise
Owning a dog can be a great way to help encourage physical activity for people with PTSD. For many people, having the responsibility of caring for a pet can serve as an impetus for regular physical activity. Dogs require daily walks and outdoor playtime, which is an excuse to get outdoors and into nature. Additionally, playing fetch or other active games with your dog is a fun way to engage in physical exercise.
Participating in physical activities on a regular basis can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are commonly associated with PTSD and improve overall mental health. By providing companionship, support, and motivation to partake in physical activity, owning a pet dog can be a highly effective tool for managing PTSD. And this is proven in many studies, there was even a recent study that revealed that engaging in physical activity notably reduced symptoms of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Emotional Support Animals Help With Mindfulness & Mental Health
Emotional Support Animals have been known to play an important role in the mental health of veterans who suffer from PTSD. Having a companion animal can help veterans reconnect with their true selves and provide them with a sense of peace, security, and stability. Studies have found that individuals who receive psychotherapy for PTSD and support from an ESA significantly improved their mindfulness skills and overall mental health.
ESAs can also remind those struggling with PTSD to practice positive self-care behaviors that help manage their symptoms, such as taking time to relax, exercising frequently, and creating a regular sleep schedule. Furthermore, emotional support animals offer unconditional love and companionship, which helps build strong relationships between the veteran and their pet, leading to increased overall well-being.
Join The 2,000+ Veterans Who Have Received an ESA Letter Through Service Pets.
For military veterans struggling with PTSD, registering an animal as an emotional support animal (ESA) could be life-changing! By providing companionship and comfort and reducing symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia associated with trauma-based disorders like PTSD, ESAs offer invaluable benefits for those who need it most.
If you’re a veteran looking for ways to manage your mental health issues more effectively, contact us here at Service Pets today to get started in getting your animal registered as an ESA today!