What is an ESA and How Can It Help Your Depression and Anxiety?

Have you been struggling with your mental health for a while now, but you feel like nothing is helping? Are you feeling discouraged and stuck in what feels like an everlasting funk because you’ve tried everything and have no clue what else to do? Trust me, I’ve been there, and I might be able to help — ever thought about getting an emotional support animal (ESA)?

If you don’t know what that is, an ESA is an animal that offers companionship and support, which helps a person manage their mental health. You’ll find that dogs are the most common animal for an ESA, but you can actually legally register any animal as an ESA as long as it helps you emotionally.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the idea of an ESA, please allow me to introduce you to someone very special to me! Making her debut on my blog, here is Sophie, my 2-year-old emotional support animal!

We’ve only had Sophie for two weeks, but we’ve learned that she loves to eat, sleep, and play fetch. While it hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine (we’re trying to potty train her fast because our carpet has taken quite the beating), she has been such a blessing since my husband and I adopted her from Operation Paws for Homes.

Honestly guys, I am just so thankful to have her around — she makes me smile first thing in the morning when I wake up and look down to see Sophie jumping in excitement for our morning walk. I used to feel lonely when I would wake up to an empty apartment because my husband already left for work, but I don’t have to worry about being alone anymore. Even when I’m teleworking and I just got done with a long Zoom meeting, it’s so comforting to look down and see her resting her head on my lap. And I love that Sophie is such a big cuddler! When I lay on the floor with my blanket for a power nap, she gets up from wherever she is and buries her entire body under my covers to rest on my legs. With her, I feel loved, needed, and I certainly don’t feel alone. She’s the perfect addition to our little family!

Sophie has given me purpose again, and she’s given me hope that my mental health CANNOT and WILL NOT defeat me. My hope for those who feel stuck in their depression, anxiety, or PTSD is that you find your own Sophie — find an animal that cuddles you when you’re sad, makes you feel alive again, and just lifts your overall mood.

If you’re interested, the best way to legally register your animal as an ESA is through your therapist. Your therapist can write and sign a letter stating that you have a mental health condition and that your animal supports you with that. Unfortunately, I had to stop going to therapy due to COVID-19, so I didn’t have a therapist who could help me with this. Fortunately, I found the Psychological Disability Service Center (PDSC), which has clinical psychotherapists who evaluate your mental health and determine if you’d be a good fit to have an ESA. I applied and was approved in less than two weeks — they send you a pdf of your leasing and airline papers in 24 hours after you’ve been approved. These papers allow you to legally live and travel with your ESA, which means that you’ll always have emotional support. PDSC will also send you a hard copy of those papers in the mail, which I received about a week after I was approved.

It was such a simple and easy process, and I am thankful to have gone this route because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you’re interested in an ESA, talk to your family to ensure that this is the best option for everyone and take the path that leads you to happiness. You deserve to be happy and to feel hopeful again.

“Gary is like my heart. Gary is very devoted to me and that calms me down… He’s anxious when he’s away from me.”

– Carrie Fisher

34 thoughts on “What is an ESA and How Can It Help Your Depression and Anxiety?”

    1. Animals are such amazing companions, and it’s just so wonderful to have them around. It’s a give and take relationship in that they help us, and we help them in return. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Sophie looks so cute and who wouldn’t want to wake up to such a cutie face. I literally didn’t know about ESA until I read this article. Aren’t we so blessed as humans to have such lovely animals in our lives, not just to keep us company, but also to help us emotionally and mentally at times.

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    1. Right? I love waking up to her. She’s so amazing! I’m so glad that I can spread the word about ESAs — like you said, not only do they keep us company, but they also lift us up in our lowest moments. Thanks for reading, Mary!

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  2. The pictures are adorable. Thanks for educating us about emotional support animal (ESA). It’s a good option to explore. Wish you and your family the best of times.

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  3. Anything that can help us conquer our mental issues is great. It’s good to know about emotional support animal (ESA) . At the moment I’m dealing my depression and anxiety by taking tablets and I can say that one of the best things I’ve done so far. I feel more relax and at peace.

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    1. I’m so glad to hear that your tablets are helping with your depression and anxiety. It’s good that you’re taking active steps to feel better because we all deserve to feel our best. Thank you so much for reading and for being so open, Anne!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading! If you’re in need of an ESA, definitely talk it over with a therapist and with your family. You may find that an ESA will provide you with so much relief and comfort. Wishing you all the best.

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  4. My cats are my best friends. I will drop anyone and everyone for them. They know when I am upset and will come to cuddle me better than any person could.

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  5. I love pets and they help to cope my anxiety and sadness. ESA is really great for all of people who experiencing mental illness. Awesome post!

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