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According to the World Health Organization, depression is most likely among 1.1% of adolescents aged 10-14 and 2.8% of 15-19 year-olds. There is a thin line between depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Studies show that animal therapy, like an Emotional Support Animal (an ESA Pet), can do wonders for humans, especially teens.

How Do Emotional Support Animals Help Teens With Depression

With news of teens committing suicide because of anxiety and depressive disorders, we couldn’t help but be concerned about our children. Various interventions are suggested to help stop teens from experiencing extreme depression, which may lead to further suicidal attempts.  

ESA Pet

Emotional Support Animal Pet (ESA Pet) is an animal recommended by medical professionals to be a companion to individuals diagnosed with severe emotional disturbance problems like depression and anxiety. 

Service Dogs Statistics 

from pawsomeadvice.com

  • There were approximately 200,000 Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in the US in 2019.
  • Training a psychiatric service dog takes one to two years
  • Puppies spend 14-18 months with their trainers
  • 50-70% of dogs don’t make it through service training
  • 89% of service animal owners report interference during the training
  • Over 65,000 emotional support animals were registered between 1995-2015

Learning about this information could somehow give you a bird’s eye view of how emotional support animals are being considered for various physical, mental, and emotional disabilities.

Pets Help Teens with Depression

Igniteteentreatment.com documented stories of struggling teens whose ESA pets have been saved.

Another story is that of one College Freshman and a rabbit.

What are the benefits of an emotional support animal?

Numerous types of research have proven that when people and pets bond together, this results in better mental health for humans and animals. Moreover, several mental health concerns were also addressed, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress.

There are many benefits derived from emotional support from animal pets. Here are a few of them:

Teenagers deal with so much more than we can ever imagine, with many struggling with depression: How Do Emotional Support Animals Help Teens With Depression

1. Pets Lower Stress

When humans interact with friendly dogs, cortisol levels or the stress hormone are reduced and trigger the release of oxytocin or the stress reducer hormone.

Stroking a pet also helps lower blood pressure and has a calming effect.

ESA Pets will significantly help your teens fight off the little signs of soon-to-explode anxiety.

2. Pets Help Manage Anxiety

Extensive studies on pets and mental health all show a positive effect on reducing stress-related hormones. Within just five minutes of interaction with pets, anxiety levels go down at the same time that serotonin and dopamine levels go high. 

Furthermore, studies noted that teens who are happy and healthy might have been raised with pets in the household when they were young.

3. Pets Make Teens Responsible

When teens have pets, this responsibility will push them to feed, bathe, walk, and do everything to make their pets loved. This activity will teach them to be responsible and to care for others.

The best way to teach teens how to be responsible is by setting a good example. You can take care of pets as a parent and child. You may offer to join your teens when they walk the pet or have fun bathing the pet together.  

There are many ways to teach responsibility without being too hard, and be sure to make it fun.

4. Teens Become More Confident

Having someone depend on you will make you feel more confident. Taking care of pets will make teens level up their self-esteem. Once they have established that they are needed and responsible, they start believing in themselves more.

5. Teens Recover from Mental Illness Fast

Generally, most teens experience a mental illness concerned with day-to-day worries like peer pressure, changes in their grades, friends who leave and seem disinterested, and many more.

Having pets have proven to be therapeutic.  

6. Pets Help Foster Healthy Habits

When you are given a responsibility like a pet’s life depends on you, you will find ways to manage the situation, and by doing so, you are also undergoing the healthy habits you want your pet to have.

A great example is the need to walk the pet regularly; by doing so, you gain from the physical activity as much as the pet does.

7. Pets Help Build Relationship Skills

Teens said that the good thing about pets is they can talk to them and pour their hearts out without being judged. This experience has made them realize what to do with relationships- to listen more than talk.

payhip

8. Teens Become More Sociable

When you own a dog, you start knowing other people who also own one. There is always a common topic to start conversations with because owning a pet is one of the most exciting things.

Another example is when you walk a dog; this activity always leads to conversations with other dog owners. Teens become less isolated.

9. Teens Learn About Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the most popular topic in movies about dogs and humans.

Who could forget Hachi? Or Marley in Marley and Me? Or Perhaps Beethoven? We were all in tears when watching these movies about pet dogs. Our hearts have been moved because they all mirror unconditional love, which does not only happen in movies but also in real life.

Dogs and cats love their masters with the unconditional love that reminds their owners to reciprocate it.

This unconditional love frees the mind of worries and fears, which is good for mental health.  

10. Teens Have More Ways to Move Around

A 2016 Common Sense Media Report mentioned that 50% of teens believed they were glued to their mobile devices. 

In 2017-2020, obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19 was 19.7%. This ratio represents 14.7 million children and adolescents.

Most teens are glued to their gadgets, laptops, cellphones, and game applications. They do not move around. Having a pet to walk and take care of will make you stretch your legs and arms more often.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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