Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: How Therapy & Service Dog Helps

December 9, 2019

Whoever said that a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself knew what they were talking about. The statement is filled with so much hope and gratitude; It’s like they’ve witnessed firsthand the pure blessings that dogs can be. 

As a result, it comes as no surprise that dogs are one of the top healers for patients suffering from PTSD. 

The effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition that can turn the life of its patient’s upside down. Individuals who have gone through extremely difficult situations, or have witnessed their loved ones breaking down, often develop PTSD. This condition interferes with their ability to live their life as they used to. They start becoming more socially withdrawn; they can feel threatened wherever they go. Out of nowhere, they might be hit with a panic attack that takes away their ability to breathe. They usually turn down any kind of help from their closest people, falling further into the pits of their condition. 

The invaluable role of therapy and service dogs

In these difficult circumstances, therapy and service dogs can help them heal from PTSD. It helps to have their pets by their side at all times, although such a feat is often impossible due to the different regulations imposed. For instance, individuals suffering from PTSD can find themselves facing an attack in the middle of the air on an airplane or in their hotel accommodations. In order to license animals used by PTSD sufferers under strict regulations, these patients can issue an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) letter that states their needs for their accompanying pet at all times. That way, they can find emotional support wherever they go, whenever they need it the most. 

The reason why these dogs are so valuable is due to the impact they play on their owners’ lives. Therapy dogs are trained to provide the optimum emotional support that a PTSD patient needs. While they’re shutting off everyone else, they usually accept this form of support from their dogs alone. Service dogs are trained to aid these patients in their everyday lives; encouraging them to get back on track, gradually. As a result, they start gaining back their functional lives once more.

Here’s how these dogs can accomplish such a difficult task:

  1. Their personality comes naturally to help, where their loving and caring nature slides in smoothly in the lives of their owners. Have you ever experienced the blissful feeling that washes over you by watching a dog wiggle its tail?

  2. They never judge and their love is unbiased, which is exactly what PTSD sufferers need at the moment.

  3. In the middle of panic and anxiety attacks, little can be done to calm the person down. However, having their emotional support animals by their side gives them the feeling of safety they urgently need in the middle of the attack.

  4. By having someone to take care of, PTSD sufferers feel a sense of parenthood and responsibility. Research has shown that this feeling significantly helps PTSD patients in overcoming their fears and pushing themselves to get better for the sake of their pets. 

  5. All dogs have a strong sense of needing to protect their owners like their own, but these dogs are specially trained to hone these instincts even more strongly. In the face of any dangerous situations, PTSD sufferers are more subject to being overcome with emotions of trauma and fear, which is when their loyal pets will take over and protect them.

  6. Protecting their owners from outside threats aren’t the only thing these dogs are good at. They can be trained to protect their owners from their own selves; stopping them from falling or relapsing into substance abuse. 

  7. Therapy dogs provide the emotional support needed by the patient to go on with their daily lives, but they can also be trained to help them carry on these activities. By training a service dog, they can aid the PTSD sufferer in daily activities such as reminding them of taking their medications or doing certain chores.

  8. Overall, PTSD sufferers become more confident in living with the help of their loyal and constant emotional support system. 

When individuals are faced with traumatic experiences, their PTSD can destroy the lives they used to live. In the face of such difficult situations, having an emotional support system in the form of an adorable dog can help them overcome their trauma and find more stability in their lives. Therapy and service dogs can help them in many ways; whether in carrying out their daily activities or providing them with unending and unbiased emotional support.

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