If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, you may qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA). An ESA’s main job is to provide you with companionship, comfort, and security, and these animals often come in the form of a dog or cat. If you’re wondering whether or not you qualify for an ESA, continue reading to learn more!
What Disabilities Qualify For An ESA?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering what disabilities qualify someone to have an ESA. Some of the most common disabilities include:
According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a common and serious medical illness that can negatively affect how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. This mental illness affects approximately 1 in 15 adults and can strike at any time. It can lead to feelings of sadness and may cause you to lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. Some other symptoms of depression are:
- Feeling sad or low all the time
- A change in appetite as well as weight loss and weight gain
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Low energy levels
- Difficulty thinking and making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you struggle with depression, have feelings of hopelessness, or you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, you can qualify for an ESA.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Also known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder affects about 15 million adults, and is the second-most diagnosed anxiety disorder in America. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder can experience a variety of symptoms, such as muscle tension, a fast heartbeat, stomach and bowel issues, and difficulty catching your breath. Most people with this anxiety disorder tend to struggle with:
- Talking to strangers and making eye contact
- Speaking in a public space
- Using public restrooms
- Attending parties or events with large groups of people
- Going to school or work
Similar to depression, social anxiety disorder is often caused by a variety of contributing factors such as brain chemistry, genetics, and previous life trauma. If you have a social anxiety disorder, you can qualify for an emotional support animal.
People who have sudden attacks of anxiety or experience an overwhelming sense of fear (that can last for several minutes at a time) often suffer from a panic disorder. These attacks can be unpredictable, and when they happen, people tend to feel an intense fear of losing control, even when there is no real danger in sight. Many people experience symptoms like a racing heart, excess sweating, trembling, dizziness, stomach pain, and numbness in the hands during an attack. If you suffer from a panic disorder, you can qualify for an ESA.
When a mother gives birth, her body can trigger a number of different emotions, including depression. Many new mommies experience the “baby blues” or postpartum depression shortly after childbirth. Symptoms of postpartum depression can come in the form of mood swings, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. If you recently had a baby and you experience any of the symptoms listed below, you may be suffering from this mental disorder.
- You feel down or sad a lot
- You have trouble sleeping or feel irritable on a regular basis
- You’ve lost your appetite and have trouble keeping food down
- You are experiencing feelings of hopeless or worthlessness
- You find yourself crying for no apparent reason
- You feel as if life isn’t worth living
If you suffer from postpartum depression, you can qualify for an emotional support animal.
Bipolar disorder is a common mental health disorder that is characterized by having extreme mood swings, both high and low. There are an estimated 3.3 million adults with bipolar disorder in the nation. It’s normal for a person to experience feelings of sadness and happiness, but when you have bipolar disorder, these feelings can shift at a moment’s notice and can have a negative impact on a person’s life. The two main categories of bipolar disorder are mania and depression.
During mania, one might feel like they have an excessive or unlimited amount of energy. Feelings of euphoria are often associated with this side of bipolar disorder, where people feel like they are on top of the world and can accomplish any feat. This can lead to an unrealistic belief in one’s own abilities, which can have a negative effect on a person’s work life and home life.
As you may have guessed, symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness and despair. Someone in this category may feel like they could sleep for days, and they may have difficulty concentrating and remembering tasks. Depression can make people feel like they have no energy to do anything and is often accompanied by thoughts of hopelessness, death, or suicide.
This mental health disorder has no specific cause, making it somewhat difficult to treat. Studies have shown that there is a genetic link to bipolar disorder, meaning you’re more prone to get it if it runs in your family. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, you may qualify for an ESA.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder that is characterized by getting caught up in a cycle of obsessive and compulsive behavior. These behaviors are unwanted and intrusive and they can trigger feelings of anxiety and distress. Many people develop compulsive tendencies to take control of a situation they feel they have no power over. For example, if someone has an irrational obsession about germs, he or she may feel like they have to wash their hands ten times after using the bathroom. If they cannot wash their hands ten times, it will lead to feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and depression. We’ve listed some common symptoms of OCD below.
- You avoid touching dirty surfaces that others have touched
- You avoid using public restrooms at all costs
- You do not like to share items with others
- You refuse to eat in a public cafeteria
- You have to touch objects a certain amount of times before you feel “right”
- You go back and forth through doorways a certain number of times before you deem it okay to enter a room
If you suffer from OCD, you can qualify for an emotional support animal.
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