What Is A Service Animal
Service animals have been trained to perform specific tasks that a person is incapable of performing on their own. For this reason, service animals are allowed in public spaces where other animals may not be allowed to go. Service animals can serve as an integral part of treatment plans for a variety of disabilities, from Bipolar Disorder to PTSD.
A service dog can help those suffering from Bipolar Disorder restore some normalcy to their lives. It also has the added benefit of providing emotional comfort and companionship to its owner. With a service dog, those with Bipolar Disorder have the reassurance of knowing that someone is always looking out for their best interests. Additionally, they know that someone is always nearby to help them when they need it the most.
How Do Emotional Support Animals Benefit People With Bipolar Disorder
Animals are quick at recognizing emotional changes in human beings. Emotional Support Animals provide ease and companionship during times of distress. They can also encourage handlers with bipolar disorder to interact with the outside world, which provides further opportunities to socialize and engage in physical activities. This can lead to the production of endorphins and have positive effects on the body.
For people suffering from an inability to control their emotions, an ESA can be a non-judgmental presence and love them the same. Emotional Support Animals provide the person with bipolar disorder with a sense of purpose and motivation to become focused on managing their condition and living a long, fulfilling life.
Ways Service Dogs Can Help People Living With Bipolar Disorder
Can those with psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder benefit from interaction with animals? For most people the answer is a resounding YES! There are an increasing number of dogs being trained to assist individuals with a range of disabilities.
It has been noted through many types of studies that service dogs have a positive impact on an individuals health, psychological well-being, social interactions, performance of activities and participation in various life roles at home and in the community.
There are a few different types of dogs and other animals that can help people living with mental illness. This blogs is about service dogs specifically, and if you would like to learn more, please check out our webinar, Psych Service Dogs: A Natural Alternative to Heal Mind and Body.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed to go in public places anywhere that a non-disabled person is allowed to go. This includes a public business, restaurant, taxi, bus, or park, even if a local or state law states otherwise. The ADA supersedes local and state laws because it is a federal law. Note that this is an American law and the rules might be different in other countries.
Here are some specific task areas service dogs can be trained to help with:
5. Security Enhancement: These canines are often trained to check the house for intruders. They can turn on lights and open doors. They can assist with leaving a premises during an emergency.
Acquiring A Service Dog For Bipolar Disorder
There are significant benefits to having a service dog if you suffer from Bipolar Disorder. If you are looking for a way to feel a bit more independent, a service dog is a major step in the right direction. Additionally, service dogs can perform vital tasks such as retrieving items, alerting others in the event of an emergency, and perhaps most importantly, providing companionship and emotional support.
That said, not everyone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder will qualify for a service dog. You will first need to consult with a physician who is familiar with your condition to determine if a service dog is the right treatment option for you. If not, you might also consider an emotional support animal, as they can provide similar assistance, without the high costs and application process.
Emotional Support Animal Vs Service Animal
Though many people confuse the two, emotional support animals and service animals differ in a few important ways. Emotional support animals are not trained in specific tasks, nor are there as many limitations on the types of animals that qualify dogs, cats, birds, and even miniature horses can qualify as emotional support animals. In the United States, the Fair Housing Act covers the legal definitions of emotional support animals. This law helps protect emotional support animals and their owners when attempting to rent a living space.
Alternatively, service animals are recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act , which grants service animals and their owners more privileges than emotional support animals.
The Air Carrier Access Act used to ensure that emotional support animals can ride in the cabin of a plane without charge. This has since been updated and ESAs are treated as regular pets at the airport, which means youll have to pay a fee and your animal may need to ride in cargo. Service dogs, however, are always protected in plane cabins. Planes can be very stressful and exacerbate Bipolar Disorderif thats the case for you, and you wish to travel, seeing if you can train and then register your ESA as a psychiatric service dog may be beneficial.
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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This lapdog is exceptionally affectionate and easy to train. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are cuddly but also athletic, excellent for when you need extra love or want to get some exercise with a companion. While they are sure to put a smile on your face every day, this breed is particularly susceptible to heart issues, so routine vet appointments are necessary.
Specific Tasks Service Dogs Can Perform To Support Their Owner
The various types of mental disorders, including Bipolar disorder, carry between them many symptom similarities but also some distinct differences in how they manifest, how long they last, and how to safely deal with them.
We have several articles on our websites blog page to help gain greater understanding about the lengths service dogs can go towards improving your well being. This one in particular describes in great detail this topic.
Here are a few ways emotional support animals can help people with Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and/or anxiety:
- Bring medication or remind their partner to take prescribed medicine at a specific time
- Awaken their partner at a specific time each day
- Remind their partner to go to bed at a specific time to keep sleep cycles regular
- Bring a portable phone to their partner or call 9-1-1 if the handler exhibits behaviors that might indicate a manic episode or severe depression
- Interrupt potentially dangerous behaviors in their partner by nudging, nagging, or distracting with play
- Alert the handler to the telephone, doorbell, or smoke alarm if their partner is asleep or possibly sedated due to medication
- Calm or interrupt hypomanic or manic behaviors by leaning into their partner, or placing their head in the handlers lap
- Provide a link to reality if their partner experiences delusions during a manic episode
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Esas Provide A Necessary Distraction When It Counts Most
If you find yourself engaging in potentially destructive or dangerous behavior during a manic episode, your ESA can step in just at the right time and avoid what would be serious repercussions. The ESA will nudge you or distract you to play, helping you pull out of that manic state.
Your ESA may have special training to recognize the tell-tale signs of trouble and how to act accordingly in such situations. Your animal will step in before things get out of control.
Alternatives To Pet Ownership
If you dont have the time, money, or ability to own a pet full-time, there are still ways you can experience the health benefits of being around animals. You can ask to walk a neighbors dog, for example, or volunteer at an animal shelter. Most animal shelters or rescue groups welcome volunteers to help care for homeless pets or assist at adoption events. Youll not only be helping yourself, but also helping to socialize and exercise the animals, making them more adoptable.
Some animal shelters and rescue groups offer pet rental programs. Dogs and cats that are available for adoption can be taken out for walks or play dates. You can also foster an animal temporarily until a permanent home is found for him, or to decide if the animal is right for you.
A variety of different organizations offer specially trained therapy dogs and cats to visit childrens hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice programs, shelters, and schools. During these visits, people are invited to pet and stroke the animals, which can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
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Pets Increase Our Sense Of Self
Recently, psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted three experiments on the benefits of pet ownership. Subsequently, the American Psychological Association published the results.
The studies showed that pet owners had improved well-being in various areas, including the following:
- Better self-esteem
- More conscientious and less preoccupied
- More extroverted
In the first study, 217 people answered questions about their well-being, personality type, and attachment style. And pet owners were happier, healthier, and better adjusted than non-owners.
A second experiment involved 56 dog owners. Researchers examined pet owners feelings about their pets. In addition, they measured their well-being. One group of people reported that their dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem, and meaning. Thus, these participants showed greater overall well-being than the other participants.
Furthermore, 97 undergraduates with an average age of 19 participated in the third study. As a result, researchers found that pets can help adolescents feel better after experiencing rejection.
The teens were asked to write about a time when they felt excluded. Then they were asked to do one of three things: write about their favorite pet, write about their favorite friend, or draw a map of their campus. And writing about pets was just as effective as writing about a friend in combating feelings of rejection.
Esas Will Boost Your Moods
Extreme mood swings are one of the fundamental manifestations of bipolar disorder. An ESA can help rein in these extremes as they have a positive effect on moods. When you are feeling your lowest, petting your ESA can level you up and you can look forward to having a great day.
Petting your animal and just being around it does affect your brains chemistry. It stimulates the brain to produce specific neurotransmitters and feel-good chemicals that will boost your mood.
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Pets: Helping Or Hindering
Ever since our twenty-something daughter was diagnosed as suffering with bipolar depression accompanied by manic episodes and anxiety, Ive learned volumes about this disease. Some of this knowledge comes from personal experiences, talking with parents, or information from research on the internet.
But as most medical professionals tend to agree, theres still so much to be discovered about this puzzling disorder. Is it genetic? Does it always come along with the progression of age? Is it connected with other medical conditions? and many other important queries that research is working on revealing.
For example, my aunt recently passed away from complications from bipolar disorder, as did her mother . Yet my much older mother and I dont seem to be experiencing any kind of symptoms. So it would seem that genetics and advancing age arent an issue.
It might seem odd that Im bringing the family dog into this equation, but there are still some strange associations that should be shared. For example, we have a Norwich Terrier, a breed thats well renowned for its hunting skills and feistiness on one hand, while having a happy-go-lucky nature on the other. Sound familiar?
Medical Experts Weigh In
Service and Giving Goes Both Ways
Please share in the comments below.
What Is A Mental Health Assistance Dog And How Can I Get One
Dogs have been our loyal companions for thousands of years, following us through tribal wars, ice ages, and countless natural disasters. Theyve been our hunting companions, protectors, and best friends, and are arguably the greatest domesticated animal on earth .
Dogs can reduce our stress, combat our loneliness, and provide us with a sense of purpose, so its no surprise that their countless skills are being put to use in an official capacity, as mental health assistance dogs.
What is a mental health assistance dog, exactly? And how might you go about getting one?
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Do Dogs Sense Mental Illness
The term mental illness makes it sound like there is something wrong with your brain. Yet mental illness is a broad umbrella that describes a variety of conditions. In fact, many people who dont even know they have a mental illness can live healthy, happy, and productive lives. Mental illness is not caused by a chemical imbalance or a defect in brain chemistry. Mental illnesses are caused by a wide variety of factors including stress, traumatic events, genetics, and brain chemistry. Some animals are capable of sensing that something is not right mentally in humans..
What Type Of Pet
Before you impulsively bring home the first animal you see, it is important to make sure that your new companion will fit with your lifestyle. You also want to consider living arrangements and expenses. Some animals require more time, space and money than others, and choosing the wrong pet can make you miserable.
If youve never owned a pet before you might want to start off with something small and easy to care for. This way you can get used to the changes any pet will bring to your life. If you cherish the companionship and it is minimizing your bipolar disorder symptoms, then you might want to consider getting a second larger animal.
You can also find bipolar disorder support groups that provide animal companionship, either at their meetings or a prearranged location. This is a good way to get used to being around animals, and it might make it a little easier to choose the right one for your situation.
Remember to take it slow. Bringing home a service dog or any pet is a commitment and responsibility that you dont want to take lightly. The right companion can make it easier for you to manage your bipolar disorder, while the wrong one could add stress to your life that could trigger a manic or depressive episode.
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Can A Cat Be Manic
No, a cat cannot be manic. Manic means excessively excitable and overactive. This is a symptom of manic state. And sometimes, this is called bipolar disorder. This disorder is characterized by dramatic changes in mood, energy level, behavior and activity levels. So, you cant say cat is manic because a cats behavior is always calm and steady. It will never change drastically..
Listen To Your Loved One
People with bipolar disorder often have confusing thoughts that make them doubt themselves. Your loved one needs to understand that they have you, and that youre willing and want to listen to them, that you care about the challenges they face daily.
While you listen, be mindful of your own attitude and responses. Remember, you may not be able to fully comprehend what they go through on a daily basis. Be careful not to get offended or be angry with them as they express their feelings.
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Signs A Dog Could Sense Bipolar Disorder
Once again, mankinds unique creation is on hand to help. Their commanding senses have given them the edge on humans and weve been quick to recognize their wonderful work ethic and put them in the service of people with bipolar and other mental disorders.
The Mighty shared a magical story of a young woman named Kelly who was diagnosed with bipolar but struggled, until she met an adorable rescue mutt named Henry. Their introduction was via family and it was evident from the start the two were going to hit it off. Whenever this fluffy, little pup would see his future owner, he would wag his tail and bestow kisses.
Eventually, Henry came to live with Kelly and her husband and started life as her emotional support dog. Having a wee pup in her life gave her focus and a reason to get out of bed. Henrys unconditional love changed things for Kelly and although there are dark days, they are made so much easier because of this intuitive little dog. Did Henry sense his pet mom’s mental state or was it just kismet?
Service dogs can be trained to help people with bipolar and other mental issues. They can sense chemical changes in the body that can preclude a panic attack or manic state. A dog’s response is to lean against their companion or place their head in the person’s lap. If things get worse, they are trained to bring a mobile phone to their handler, or dial 911.
Signs a dog might sense bipolar include things like:< br/>
How Service Dogs Can Help With Bipolar Disorder
Service dogs can not only be trained for tasks related to Bipolar Disorder, but also for tasks specific to an individuals symptoms and needs regarding his or her disorder. The service dog works to assist the owner in many ways, which can help alleviate the negative symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Some of the tasks service dogs may perform include reminding the owner to take medications, waking and reminding the owner to go to bed at a certain time to maintain healthy and consistent sleep cycles, retrieving a phone for the owner to call support people during times of emotional distress or crisis, interrupting or distracting the owner from dangerous or self-harming behaviors through licking, nudging, applying weight to the chest or bringing a toy to play, alerting the owner to an alarm such as a smoke alarm, or alerting the owner to sirens or the phone ringing if the owner is asleep or sedated due to prescription medication.
Perhaps most importantly, service dogs can help bring those with Bipolar Disorder back to reality when they are suffering from a severe manic or depressive episode. These episodes are often characterized by negative or repetitive thoughts that do not correlate with the reality of the situation. When a dog has been trained to recognize the signs of one of these episodes, they can react accordingly to distract from negative thoughts and get help if necessary.
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