Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about 9% of all American children and 4% of adults. People used to think that ADHD was just a lack of focus and discipline in school, but new research shows that ADHD is linked to depression and anxiety and has a lot to do with genetics and other environmental factors.
Managing ADHD requires robust coping mechanisms. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are one of the many ways that people with this diagnosis can grow to feel more connected and in control of their lives.
If you're considering getting an ESA to help with your mental health, here's everything you need to know about getting an emotional support animal for ADHD - starting with an ESA Letter from Pettable.
At a Glance
- What Is An Emotional Support Animal for ADHD? - An ESA for ADHD is an animal that has been picked out by a licensed mental health professional as a therapy animal. Having an ESA may help relieve your ADHD symptoms and give you comfort to help you deal with loneliness, fear, anxiety, and problems with your ability to make decisions.
- Do I Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal? - Consult a licensed mental health professional to determine if having an ESA will provide you with comfort and help to mitigate the difficulties of living with ADHD. If the mental health professional thinks you will benefit from having an ESA, they will write an ESA letter that qualifies you for an ESA.
- What Can An Emotional Support Animal Do for ADHD? - An ESA can help you form a routine and schedule, especially when it comes to care. This may help mitigate stress and procrastination that leads to executive dysfunction.
- How Do I Get An Emotional Support Animal for ADHD? - Start by speaking with a licensed mental health professional to get your own ESA letter. Then, select which animal will be your ESA for ADHD. You may select an existing pet to be designated as your ESA or choose another animal entirely.
- Take The Next Steps: Get An Emotional Support Animal Letter - Pettable puts you in touch with a licensed mental health professional who will decide if you qualify for an ESA letter. If you do, you'll get it within 24 hours.
What Is An Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animals are essential for some people in managing their mental health by helping reduce the symptoms of a psychological illness or providing comfort and support.
They don't require special training either! Instead, their companionship helps relieve some of the stress and challenges that get in the way of good mental health.
However, these animals are not the same as service animals, highly trained dogs that assist a person with a disability in performing specific tasks.
It's also important to know that an ESA can be any animal, not just a dog!
What Can An Emotional Support Animal Do for ADHD?
An ESA's companionship has many benefits for people with ADHD. Here are some of the primary benefits that these animals bring.
Help with maintaining a regular schedule
Disorganization and poor time management skills are common symptoms of ADHD. For some people, this can lead to missing deadlines, not delivering on a project, or not being able to follow through on commitments.
An ESA may help a person with ADHD feel better because it gives them a sense of consistency, which makes them more likely to feed and care for it on a regular basis.
Caring for an ESA is much like caring for a pet – both encourage consistency between a regular meal schedule, daily walks (if it's a dog or other active animal), and interaction with the owner.
But an animal is an ESA if its routine care takes its owner's mind off of triggers, stress, or other things in the environment that could be a distraction.
Provide an outlet for excessive activity and energy
One of the most widely known symptoms of ADHD is high levels of energy, activity, and restlessness. An ESA can help people with ADHD deal with their symptoms and make them less bothersome.
Emotional support dogs, in particular, are a great example of how an animal that needs frequent walks and time spent playing encourages its owner to get outside. Dogs require schedules. They need their owner's attention.
Going for walks gives the dog a chance to move around, and you get rid of some of your hyperactivity, or extra energy, which may be making it hard for you to focus or control your emotions.
Help cope with stress, anger, and extreme mood swings
ADHD is often accompanied by mood swings or feelings of anxiety and anger. Not only are these feelings hard to deal with for anyone, but people with ADHD are also more likely to have a mood disorder like anxiety or depression.
Numerous studies have shown that animals offer countless mental health benefits; the most noticeable benefits include fewer feelings of stress or loneliness and an improved sense of mental well-being.
Since people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to be overstimulated, an ESA can help them control their feelings and make their daily lives better overall.
Improve planning skills
People with ADHD may find it hard to keep track of their schedules, stay focused on a boring task, control their impulses, and stay organized.
Having an ESA can help ease these symptoms by giving you a sense of time and a regular schedule.
You have to make an organized system or a plan to take care of your ESA, sometimes mapping out the entire process because your ESA requires care. This can help make other types of planning more accessible and improve your daily living.
ESAs can assist an ADHD patient with social isolation and loneliness in making and following through on social plans and improving your overall health, which is foundational for improving your mental health.
Decrease feelings of loneliness and social isolation
An ESA can help a person with ADHD make meaningful connections and feel less lonely, which are both common feelings for people with ADHD.
Do I Qualify For An Emotional Support Animal?
If you're wondering if you qualify for an ESA, you're not alone. Here are three scenarios that might sound familiar:
Case 1: An adult with high-functioning anxiety and ADHD
Maybe you've heard the term "high-functioning anxiety" in the mental health field. At its core, this term means that a person can go about their day-to-day without their mental health challenge getting in the way of most tasks.
Remember that the purpose of an ESA is to provide comfort and reduce the symptoms of a psychological challenge, even if it is a high-functioning one. So if having an ESA helps you manage anxious thoughts and feel less lonely, you may qualify for an ESA.
Case 2: A college student who can't focus in class
Experts predict that 2 to 8% of college students have ADHD. An ESA may help support some people in this group by providing the comfort and consistency lacking in their environment.
Though ESA policies differ by school, many will permit an emotional support dog or other animal if you provide sufficient documentation. Possible documentation may include:
- Documentation of your mental health disability
- A letter from a licensed mental health professional stating your ESA qualification
- Up-to-date veterinarian and vaccination records for your animal
Case 3: A person with ADHD struggling to meet work deadlines and make meetings
One of the most prominent symptoms of ADHD is an inability to focus on tasks and follow through with deadlines. You may qualify for an ESA to help regulate symptoms in this case. For example, having an ESA provides regularity and structure for the day.
It teaches your brain to follow through with regular tasks like buying dog food, feeding, and walking schedules as part of your daily life. It also helps you achieve goals and is a nonjudgmental companion who will not give you a hard time for missing an important task.
Suppose an ESA helps to calm and focus you while working. As a reasonable accommodation, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act lets many companies let an ESA into the office.
What Is The Best Emotional Support Animal for ADHD?
Generally, emotional support dogs are recommended for people with ADHD since they have the temperament and activity needed to help ADHD patients deal with their symptoms.
If you have ADHD, here are three dog breeds well-suited to becoming your therapy dog and helping manage your mental health.
Happy-go-lucky, gentle, and active Labrador retrievers are some of the best animals for people with ADHD. This breed is known for being very dependent, which makes it a great choice for people who are lonely, socially isolated, or depressed. People with severe ADHD will also find labs to be patient and eager to please, which makes them loyal companions during an ADHD flare-up and possibly the PTSD that comes with it.
Most important for people with ADHD are their high energy levels, which require regular physical activity. For people with ADHD, having a high-energy dog is crucial so that the emotional support dog encourages their owners to release some of their restless energy through regular exercise with the dog.
This popular "doodle" dog brings together the best of Golden Retrievers and Poodles. The hypoallergenic coats of Goldendoodle emotional support dogs make them great for homes where people have allergies.
This breed is also incredibly enthusiastic and eager to please. Many Goldendoodles are likely to become especially attached to their owner. This dependence provides the comfort and stability someone with ADHD may find useful.
Plus, these active dogs need regular exercise. They have enough stamina for long days of activities, whether it's running with their owner or providing emotional support on an especially hard day.
Despite being a smaller breed than other commonly known ESA dogs, Corgis have plenty of serotonin-boosting qualities! Corgis are very active, enthusiastic, and love to play, so know that this dog will encourage you to get outside and move.
They're excellent for people with depression or ADHD because of their joyful personalities. Plus, they are a nice way to take your mind off the stresses of everyday life, which makes them a great furry friend.
How Do I Get An Emotional Support Animal for ADHD?
Whether you have already been diagnosed with ADHD or suspect that you have it, you can seamlessly get an emotional support animal with help from Pettable.
The process starts by filling out a 3-minute assessment about your ESA needs and then scheduling a meeting with a licensed mental health professional. During this free consultation, you and the counselor talk about your mental health and how your pet might help you deal with ADHD symptoms better. Once approved, you will receive an ESA letter that certifies your need for an ESA for ADHD.
Then comes the best part – choosing your animal! Unlike service animals, an emotional support animal may be any animal or breed, so long as it provides you with the emotional and mental support you need! Because of this flexibility, you do not need to go to any specific breeder to find one.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to know more about emotional support animals for ADHD, these are the most commonly-asked questions.
Can I get a psychiatric service dog instead?
It depends. A psychiatric service dog is the better option if you are looking for a specially trained animal to perform specific tasks. ESAs assist in regulating your emotions and providing comfort without needing training.
Can any animal be an emotional support animal?
Yes! As long as the animal is emotionally grounding for you, then you may get it registered as an ESA. For ESAs, you don't need any special training or breed restrictions. This makes the rules more flexible and easy to follow than the strict rules for service animals.
What is the most comforting animal?
There is no correct answer when it comes to choosing an ESA. Consider your mental health issue and the type of animal that will not aggravate symptoms.
Dogs are the best animals for people with ADHD because of their loyalty and active personalities, and they help keep your mind focused by being a non-judgmental companion.
Does ADHD qualify for an emotional support animal?
Yes, ADHD is a diagnosable psychological disability under ADA guidelines. Because of this, people diagnosed with ADHD qualify for an Emotional Support Animal.
To use the animal as an ESA, you must get proof from a licensed mental health professional that you have a mental disability.
What animal helps with ADHD?
Dogs are generally the best emotional support animals if you're coping with ADHD. Studies have shown that these four-legged animals help improve attention skills, reduce stress, and encourage frequent exercise to help release restless energy and generally uplift the quality of your life. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to ESAs. Other animals may provide the same benefits if a dog isn't good for you!