If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, owning an ESD or emotional support dog can be of great benefit to your anxiety problems. In fact, according to many Americans who have a registered ESD, the difference between manageable and unmanageable anxiety issues could be as simple as owning an emotional support dog. These animals are known to provide the support needed for emotional disorders like anxiety and even depression.
Emotional support dogs can help with a wide range of mental health issues
Below, we look at the different ways in which an emotional support dog can help in the treatment of social anxiety disorder.
ESDs Open the Gateways of Trust
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder constantly face the fear of being criticized, judged or even being shamed by others. With such fears, it can be challenging to build and maintain open, close and intimate relationships with people. With an ESD, you get a companion who will not criticize or judge you. ESDs open the gateways of trust and are a stepping stone to having genuine interactions with those who have similar experiences.
According to a top ESD site, looking into a dog’s eyes is similar to looking at another person or a young child (1), and helps increase oxytocin levels, which improves bonding between the pet and owner. This level of connection offered by ESDs is critical in opening emotional pathways that may have been suppressed by social anxiety issues.
ESDs Boost Your Confidence and Give You Purpose
Because dogs are known to love and trust unconditionally, owning an ESD is one of the best ways to experience a sense of dedicated responsibility and care for something you love. Your pet depends on you for food, exercise and companionship, which gives you a sense of purpose, reducing your feelings of anxiety and stress brought about by social life challenges.
Most anxiety treatment centers allow your ESD to accompany you throughout your stay or treatment sessions, giving you the unconditional love you deserve as you foster a level of trust in your social skills. The comfort offered by an ESD has long lasting benefits that go beyond improving your well-being, boosting your confidence and promoting mental health.
Owning a Dog is a Great Way to Exercise Your Free Spirit
It’s a fact that walking your dog or even going for a hike in the company of your ESD can benefit your mental health (2), according to Researchers at the University of Liverpool. However, for people with social anxiety disorder, finding the courage to do so can sometimes be intimidating. What if I run into someone I know? Maybe they will judge me. Maybe it’s not a good idea to go outside.
These types of negative thoughts are common among people with social anxiety disorder. The way you respond to such conversations with yourself is the key to ensuring mental well-being. Although it’s not always easy, having the companionship of an emotional support animal like a dog, as you exercise, can help you overcome these fears and alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
Dogs Help Promote Natural Communication and Conversations
Emotional support dogs are not only perfect workout companions, but also great conversation starters, especially when you might least expect it. Conversations you have with strangers as you walk with your dog can help you gain more confidence for more in-depth and longer conversations with others. When you think of it: almost anyone is usually happy to see a tail wag and will appreciate a well-taken care of and behaved dog.
How can a pet help my mental health?
Fellow dog owners will often start conversations just about anywhere they meet. Walking your dog or even taking your ESD to treatment sessions and other dog-friendly places promotes natural conversations. It’s important to grow your conversations gradually at your own pace as you learn how to overcome social anxiety disorder(3) and integrate yourself into the society.
Having an emotional support animal like a dog that loves you for who you really are and needs you for survival is an engaging responsibility that can help motivate you in a meaningful and wonderful way. This alone can help you overcome your social anxiety problems.
by Andrew Ellis