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In many cases, I think it's possible that dogs can contribute remarkably to the healing process. Often in conjunction with other treatment options such as medications, cognitive therapy, etc.

That said, I also believe it's best to consult with your GP first and foremost. Have him or her oversee a comprehensive plan to move forward, one that's custom-tailored to suit your individual situation and needs. Allow them to assist you in determining whether a dog will help or hinder your progress. Dog ownership is a long-term commitment and a great responsibility which deserves very careful consideration before embarking. And unfortunately, not all people are cut out for it.

But theoretically, at least? Yes, dogs certainly can help.
 

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There is a difference between a trained psychological service dog, which costs many thousands of dollars and may or may not be covered by your health insurance, and an ESA, which is essentially a doctor writing a prescription for their patient to keep a pet.

A service dog is a piece of medical equipment, just like a wheelchair. We may not like wheelchairs, but we don't have the right to bar wheelchair users from public spaces.

An ESA is a pet and must follow the same rules all pets do. However, it is illegal to put a mentally ill person through the additional burdens of the search for (frequently nonexistent) pet-friendly rental housing and the financial hit of large pet deposits. That is fair. Mental illness is very expensive to treat, the drugs have side effects, and there is a great cost to society when we ignore the needs of our mentally ill folks.

Only a doctor can determine whether a patient needs a psychological service dog or would benefit from an ESA. There are a lot of scams on the internet.
 

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I am certainly no expert, but I strongly feel the need to pop in with an answer to your question. That answer is "It Depends!"
It depends on you. And it depends on your dog.

laurelsmom already explained the difference between a service dog, which can go (almost) anywhere their human goes, and the ESA pet, which has very few perks aside from the home rental issue.

On an emotional level, a dog (a cat, or any kind of pet that you love) *can* help. They can provide companionship to combat loneliness. Stroking their fur is soothing. And, for many, the responsibility of owning a pet gives people a reason to live, a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

On the flip side, an animal (especially a dog) can cause a great deal of stress. Puppies need to be watched constantly while out of their crate. They chew everything and anything they can get a hold of. Often, they will bark and cry no matter the time of day, which can disturb your sleep and that of your housemates (which could lead to a whole other bit of stress). Pups need to be taken out to potty in the middle of the night. And then there's the cost of owning a dog: Four vet visits just for puppy shots; dog license; spay or neuter costs; food; toys; more food & toys; crate and/or playpen; leashes, collars, harnesses; and the additional cost of treating a sick or injured animal. (Every pet I've owned has cost me thousands in vet bills over their lifetime).

While I love my pooch, a 7-month-old, very active border collie, I am compelled to tell you that she has increased my stress levels, which in turn has led to physical health issues (vestibular migraine, which causes balance issues, fatigue and hearing loss in one ear). I briefly considered rehoming my pup but decided to forge on. Often, I don't feel like training, but if I work hard and teach her basic manners then I'm hoping she, and in turn my migraines symptoms, will calm down by the time she is 2 or 3.
 

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Absolutely, yes! In fact, dogs are an ideal choice for being an emotional support animal. They are deeply therapeutic. I can say it from personal experience that dogs are the best choice for fighting depression and anxiety. I was battling serious depression 2 years ago and the only kind of support I had was my dog. I had issues with my friends and I hardly met them because we were constantly fighting. I couldn’t handle all the drama happening in my life. It was too much for me. This led me to isolation and I literally lost my interest in life. Even in that troubled phase of my life, my dog pampered me with attention. We used to play hide n seek together at home and slept together too. Gradually I gained confidence to step out again. I took him for walks and I observed a positive change in my life. This was a much-needed boost I needed.

Then I met a mental health specialist and got my dog registered as an emotional support dog. I am glad such a provision exists. The specialist just evaluated me to check if I need the presence of my dog to support me. I qualified and got my ESA letter. This enabled me to live with my pet without any problems and I was not bounded by any legal restrictions too. So I believe having dogs is nothing short of a blessing. They love you in a way that will make you feel special. With such positivity all problems subside and you can experience life with full enthusiasm. If you’re confused, just contact an ESA doctor and he will help you in knowing the benefits of pet therapy. Just stay positive...You shall be fine!
 

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Then I met a mental health specialist and got my dog registered as an emotional support dog. I am glad such a provision exists. The specialist just evaluated me to check if I need the presence of my dog to support me. I qualified and got my ESA letter. This enabled me to live with my pet without any problems and I was not bounded by any legal restrictions too.
All since 5/17?
 

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I am more reserved and less than enthusiasm than other respondents. My ex husband was suffered from depression for years and I lived with his situation for years. When he was depressed he could not even get out of bed.. and we had a farm to run. If I had not been there on those days no cows would have been fed, no cows milked, no dogs walked and.. well.. you get the picture. Medication, hospitalization etc. did not help either.

I will say it depends on the level of clinical depression. If it is at the level I note above, the depressed person is unable to care for a dog (or even themselves). If it is functional depression, maybe a dog can help simply due to the obligation of care, training and play.

I think that "healing" is largely dependent on the person suffering the illness (and, in some but not all instances, the correct medication). I think it is far more complex than "getting a dog" (as mentioned above).

My experience with the severely depressed as in #1 above was not good and the outcome was extremely poor.
 

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On the flip side, an animal (especially a dog) can cause a great deal of stress.
My misbegotten mongrels have added so much more stress to my life than kittens that it isn't funny. They are seriously more like human children than "normal" pets, even though it's not the dogs' faults that human society has changed so much since the 1970s. It's hard not to make potentially hurtful comments about how I "should have my head examined" for taking on Chocolate, because not-dog people just won't understand the severity of her issues.

I lived with his situation for years. When he was depressed he could not even get out of bed.. and we had a farm to run. If I had not been there on those days no cows would have been fed, no cows milked, no dogs walked and.. well.. you get the picture. Medication, hospitalization etc. did not help either.
Sometimes pain is nature's way of telling you something's wrong. We're all more aware of mental illness because of the recent loss of so many celebrities to suicide, but when it gets to this level we need to stop looking for easy fixes like pills, platitudes, and panaceas. It isn't the dog's responsibility to fix human problems.
 

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Sometimes pain is nature's way of telling you something's wrong. We're all more aware of mental illness because of the recent loss of so many celebrities to suicide, but when it gets to this level we need to stop looking for easy fixes like pills, platitudes, and panaceas. It isn't the dog's responsibility to fix human problems.
Medication is ridiculously helpful for a great number of people, but unfortunately, thee are a great many more who won't get help because of views like this: that pills are some "easy fix" and should be looked down on. This is a hideously irresponsible viewpoint. Ugh.

As for the OP's question, I agree with the posters who have said that dogs and other animals CAN help, yes, but they can also add more stress. I'm lucky that when my severe anxiety really ramps up and I can't even get out of bed, my husband is perfectly fine to look after our animals. Luckily it doesn't happen all that often anymore (thanks to friggin therapy and friggin MEDICATION)
I think that an ESA can be a good addition to a full treatment plan - as in, an ESA in addition to therapy and coping/grounding techniques or whatever else a qualified mental healthcare provider works out with you. But just getting a dog and hoping it "fixes" everything is, unfortunately, going to set you both up for failure. Can it happen? I'm sure it can, but I DO NOT think it works for everyone and if it doesn't, you then have an animal you might not be able to properly care for, which could very well add even more to your anxieties and depression.
 

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Many, many, many years ago I had really, really, terrible anxiety - like 'can't leave the house' anxiety. At that point in my life I also had pets. All the pets really did was make me more anxious because I couldn't get them exercised or socialized and everything that made ME freak out/panic made them panic. It was not a good situation.

I went with the 'easy' fix of meds and therapy. That helped, a lot and got me to a place where something like an ESA would have been useful (I own my own home, I don't need a letter or an official ESA). I still 'lean on' their presence a bit when I"m out and about in stressful situations, but I had to be relatively stable and in my head before that was possible. Before then the dogs weren't helping me - I was just hurting the dogs.

Also: Pills as an easy fix are, as stated above, an irresponsible attitude that's going to get people hurt. Many times anxiety and depression are rooted in the physical - ie: brain chemistry isn't right. Which means you NEED MEDICINE TO FIX IT. It's no different than a pancreas malfunctioning leading to diabetes. You don't just 'work' your way out of that without medication. EXACT. SAME. THING.
 

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Since my birth I've been raised along with my missing buddy "Bless".
Now, we've two buddies dizzy and oreo.
Whether dogs or cats really help in reducing or healing depression, is a massively debated topic for sure.

However, here's my few cents.
They don't act as a medicine or some sort of potion to heal our depression. but yeah, the way they identify your mood and treat you accordingly. The way they tend to please you all the time. The way they pass those stares to your eyes. You forget everything while being with your dog companion. I'm saying this because I've experienced this.

Everyday I go back to home from office and my dizzy welcome me like anything. I can say that, my own child have never welcomed me that way and I don't even expect it from them. The moment I see my dizzy running out of get to greet me, I forget all work pressure and tensions I experienced during my work time.

Hope it will help you.
Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all for your responses. after a lot of thought i went to a pet shelter and got a pug. He is just a month old and fits right in my palm. Hope everything goes well. Any name suggestions?
 

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It's unlikely you got a 4 week old puppy. But if so he's going to need very special care. Possibly around the clock feeding. Hope you have a backup plan. Puppies like babies need full time attention, and there's no taking time out for other issues. Try to find someone knowledgeable with young dogs. The Pug community is very friendly, and perhaps you can check online through a "Meet Up" group in your area. Perhaps making that kind of connection alone might lead to some kind of comforting reassurances in your life. Best wishes for success.
 
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