An estimated 4.4% of adults in the United States struggle with bipolar disorder, making it a fairly common mental illness. It is characterized by alternating periods of elated, manic mood and deep depression. This condition is treated with a variety of medications and with therapy, but an emotional support animal can add an extra boost of support to a struggling individual. Here is how.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is defined as an animal that provides comfort relief to individuals with psychiatric illnesses through companionship. They can be almost any type of animal, including but not limited to cats, dogs, horses, lizards, birds, rabbits, etc. Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act but they are not protected under the ADA. This means you can live with your emotional support animal anywhere for free regardless of pet policy or fees, but you cannot take them out in public with you the way you would be able to with a service dog.
How Can an Emotional Support Animal Help an Individual with Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder mood swings generally follow three phases, not necessarily in any particular order. Here is how an emotional support animal can help in each episode.
During this period, individuals may be more hyper, energetic, risk-taking, talkative, and excitable. Hypomania can be mild and may only last a few days. The main danger is the risk-taking and potentially dangerous activities the individual may pursue. An emotional support animal can help ground an individual and provide a source of stability and unwavering love and support. This can help them stay focused and stable.
During a manic episode, an individual’s day to day life may be majorly impacted, and they may need major treatment or hospitalization. They can suffer a psychotic break, delusions, seizures, and hallucinations. Individuals may become extremely talkative and overly excitable. An emotional support animal can patiently listen to them without judgement, and provide a source of calm and peace, helping to bring the individual back down to reality.
During an episode of depression, the individual may become extremely depressed, hopeless, lose interest in normally enjoyable activities, eat or sleep too much or too little, and struggle to do basic daily tasks. An emotional support animal can help them reconnect with the world around them by providing a consistent schedule. The depressed individual will need to get out of bed to feed and walk their animal, and it will likely beg for attention, providing some joy to their bleak state of mind.
How Do You Get Emotional Support Animal Certification?
In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, you must simply get a letter of certification from a licensed medical health professional. You may even qualify for a psychiatric service dog, if your animal is trained to do specific tasks in relation to your mental illness. You can get your letter of certification for your emotional support animal today at United Support Animal. Contact us now!