First of all, what are emotional support animals? These animals are neither household pets nor therapy service animals. They don’t need formal training or certification but are recognized by a (mental) healthcare professional as therapeutically needed for a person with a health or mental health condition.

According to a recent small study, emotional support animals can help people with depression, anxiety and loneliness, recover from their chronic mental illness. In the study a small group of participants who were at risk of social isolation, were paired with a shelter dog or cat for therapeutical purposes for a period of 12 months. During this time the participants were tested to measure any changes related to their mental state. It turned out that at the end of the study, all participants had a statistically significant decrease in depression, anxiety and loneliness.

The researchers also observed higher amounts of the “cuddle” hormone oxytocin and lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol direct after participants’ 10-minute interaction with their emotional support animal. The highest oxytocin levels were marked in the 12th month. This means that the participants’ connection with their emotional support animal had strengthened over time.

Although needed to be replicated in a larger scale, this study gives us another safe method with no side effects to cope with chronic mental illness, isn’t it?

Curious? HERE is the source

Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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