Emotional Support Animals: How Teens Are Finding Comfort in Pets

Teenhood is a formative stage that comes with its unique challenges. As teenagers transition into adulthood, they experience many emotions that can trigger anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that 1 in 7 adolescents and teens between 10-19 struggle with a mental disorder.

Reports Show a Crescent Wave of Stress and Depression in Teens

It’s normal for teenagers to experience mood swings due to hormonal fluctuations. While some adolescents might have smooth transitions into teenhood and eventually adulthood, most experience stress, anxiety, and even depression due to their physical and emotional changes.

WebMD reports that the type and severity of mental health disorders affecting teens vary depending on several factors, such as social life, school life, family life, and genetics. Even teens with supportive families can become depressed or experience anxiety and other mental disorders.

According to the Mayo Clinic, teen depression affects how teenagers think, feel, and behave and can easily lead to functional, physical, and emotional problems. Some common emotional changes in teenagers include sadness, anger, hopelessness, irritability, esteem issues, and lack of interest in everyday activities. Teenagers are also likely to experience extreme sensitivity and develop feelings of self-criticism and worthlessness.

Common behavioral changes associated with teen depression include lethargy, insomnia, appetite changes, alcohol and drug addiction, restlessness, social isolation, slowed thinking, poor school performance, and truancy. Other behavioral symptoms of teen depression include reduced attention to appearance or personal hygiene, self-harm, disruptive behavior, and angry outbursts.

It’s good to be on the lookout for some of these emotional and behavioral changes to know if your child needs professional attention. If diagnosed with anxiety or depression, it’s crucial to act fast to prevent the situation from worsening and affecting your child’s development.

Living Free From Stress Is Vital to Improve Quality of Life

It’s crucial to monitor your teen as they gradually advance into adulthood, more so from a mental health perspective. Noticing behavioral and emotional changes early boosts the chances of addressing the situation before it worsens.

Some things you can do to improve your teen’s mental health include regular discussions about the changes they are undergoing, listening to your child’s perspectives and feelings, and being a present support system. It would be best to consistently handle your teen with empathy and a high level of understanding to ensure they’re comfortable enough to open up to you.

Below are some ways to help your child overcome stress and mental illnesses.

Be a Present Parent 

Teens undergo various emotions and may be irritable, anxious, and temperamental due to mood swings. As a parent, your role is to support your child through all these phases instead of adding extra pressure. Be present enough in your teen’s life and try to walk with them throughout all the stages. Doing this creates much-needed support for the teen, ensuring they have a trusted person to talk to when they need adult guidance.

Monitor Your Teen

As the American Psychological Association reported, monitoring your teenager is a great way to prevent stress or help them overcome stressful situations without developing anxiety or depression. The idea is to observe their academic performance, behavioral changes, and social life to determine the presence or absence of mental health issues.

Consider Treatment 

Once you notice significant changes in your child’s behavior, it’s highly advisable to consult with a licensed expert to determine whether or not your child requires medical attention. If diagnosed with depression or anxiety, the doctor will recommend a suitable treatment option. Fortunately, there are several ways to help your teen cope with depression and anxiety, one of them being considering an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

Emotional Support Animals Help Teens Into a Happy and Healthy Life

Emotional Support Animals can come in extra handy in helping your teenager cope with stress and anxiety. A PubMed study on the role of pet dogs on children with autism revealed that dogs and their owners tend to form lasting bonds that help improve the children’s welfare. As stated by ESA Pet, ESAs can help alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD.

Consistent pet-human interaction triggers oxytocin release, which is a stress-reducing hormone. Your teen can stroke the pet or even talk to it, which has a much-needed calming effect. Your teenager will also be more responsible, as they must take care of the dog by taking it for walks, feeding it, and grooming it accordingly.

ESAs can also help teenagers improve their relationship skills and become more sociable. It becomes much easier to be ‘out there,’ whether when taking the dog for walks or interacting with fellow pet owners. What’s more, the pet will make your child feel like they have something to take care of, which creates a feeling of importance.

Learn More About Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals can help your teenager cope with symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and various other mental health issues. ESAs are legally protected, meaning your teenage child can benefit from privileges. For instance, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) applies to almost all housing situations. It gives handlers protection from pet-related fees and restrictions.

It’s advisable to learn more about ESAs as a treatment option for depression and anxiety if you suspect that your teenager might be struggling with the condition. Once given an official ESA letter, your pet will be legally protected and exempted from pet fees and restrictions, which allows you to save thousands in pet fees.

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Adolescent Psychiatry Staff

The information on this page is not intended to be a replacement for treatment, diagnosis, or professional clinical advice. We do not recommend taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger - don't use this site. These resources can provide you with immediate help.

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