Here’s Why Animals Are Being Prescribed as Mental Health Remedies
All sorts of medical advances have been made in the last century, with treatments and cures for some of the most debilitating conditions being uncovered by researchers around the world.
While scientific breakthroughs are certainly to be welcomed, it is also worth pointing out that healthcare professionals are also turning to other forms of remedies, especially when it comes to dealing with mental health issues.
Here is a look at the unique role that animals are playing in providing therapeutic relief to people around the world, and why this matters in the modern age.
The multifaceted battle for good mental health
The levels of public awareness around the topic of mental health have risen rapidly in the past few years, and this means that not only are people happy to be more open about their personal struggles, but also to seek help for problems that they might previously have kept hidden.
This is all well and good, but speaking about it is just the first step to recovery; next it is necessary for experts in this field to prescribe the right course of treatment for the patients they encounter.
For some people a straightforward course of medicine designed to rebalance their brain chemistry will do the trick, but for others this will not always deliver the desired results.
This is where an emotional support animal (ESA) can be an excellent addition or alternative to medical remedies, with research proving that there are a raft of benefits offered by the companionship of pets.
Ultimately it is about giving patients choice and also about tailoring their treatments to match their unique needs, rather than pigeonholing anyone with mental health troubles in the same way as their peers and potentially failing to help them effectively as a result.
The advantages of animals for fighting anxiety & depression
Various pieces of research have shown that owning a pet can positively impact our mental health, particularly when it comes to aiding those who suffer from commonplace conditions such as anxiety and depression.
For example, when someone suffers from anxiety in public places, particularly in transport scenarios, the presence of an emotional support animal can keep them calm and prevent their usual triggers from compromising their mental state. This is why ESAs are often allowed on planes, trains and buses, just like full-blown service animals, so long as you have the paperwork from a qualified professional.
Depression and loneliness can also be treated with a pet, since animals like dogs and cats can form meaningful bonds with people, often of comparable strength to that between parent and child. So the next time you hear someone refer to their pet as their ‘fur baby’, you can probably appreciate that this is not as flippant as it first sounds.
The confidence factor
Another point worth making about the prescription of therapy animals is that there are a whole range of other beneficial side effects of pet ownership that people can leverage to conquer whatever mental health conundrums they are faced with.
For instance, if you bring a dog into your life then you will not only have a motivation to get regular exercise because of the frequent walks that most breeds require, but also have a conversation starter when you meet other owners.
As more people are finding their mental health can deteriorate during periods of isolation, an animal will not only provide companionship in its own right, but will also get you back out into the world and break down the barriers that might otherwise be holding you back.