Emotional Support Animals Help Lick Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety in Serious Mental Illness!
Use of emotional support animals (ESAs) yields quantifiable reductions in depression, anxiety, and loneliness for patients with serious mental illness (SMI) who live alone, early research suggests. At regular home visits during the study, participants also underwent saliva testing before playing with their pets and after 10 minutes of enjoyable pet interaction to assess levels of oxytocin — a biomarker associated with bonding — as well as cortisol and alpha amylase, which are markers of stress. Significant reductions in measures of anxiety, depression, and loneliness were found between baseline and 12 months for all participants. Moreover, there was a pattern of an increase in levels of oxytocin and a decrease in levels of cortisol after 10 minutes of ESA interaction, but the degree of change did not reach statistical significance.
@manju An ESA is a "companion animal (pet) who helps to reduce disability-related impairment for a particular person through the animal's presence and everyday interactions. Unlike service animals, which perform specific functions, ESAs "provide benefits that fall along the same dimensions as the benefits of pets — physical, social, emotional, and psychological — and there is research supporting the role that animals can play in each of these arenas.