Psychiatric dogs offer many therapeutic benefits from alleviating symptoms associated with anxiety and concerns about going outside or other social interactions. Because of their versatility and wide range of benefits for people struggling with psychiatric disorders, psychiatric service dogs are frequently trained to help.
In addition to severe anxiety or depression, service dogs can help with following psychiatric conditions (although this is not an exhaustive list) and the handler can respond well to the benefits associated with psychiatric service dogs:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Panic Attacks
- Agorahobia, Social Phobias
- Extreme Separation Anxiety
- Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Note - for PTSD, we have a separate page with more info
Lessen perception of physical pain.
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Braun, C., Stangler, T., Narveson, J., & Pettingell, S. (2009). 15(2), 105-109.
Journal of Holistic Nursing: Official Journal of the American Holistic Nurses' Association Sobo, E. J., Eng, B., & Kassity-Krich, N. (2006). , 24(1), 51-57.
Decrease agitation and aggression.
Western Journal of Nursing Research, McCabe, B. W., Baun, M. M., Speich, D., & Agrawal, S. (2002). 24(6), 684-696.
Increase social interaction and ability to manage daily living.
International Psychogeriatrics/IPA. Filan, S. L., & Llewellyn-Jones, R. H. (2006). 18(4), 597-611.
Lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Psychosomatic Medicine, Allen, K., Blascovich, J., & Mendes, W. B. (2002). 64(5), 727-739.
The Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. Banks, M. R., & Banks, W. A. (2002). 57(7), M428-M432.
Ease anxiety or depression.
American Journal of Critical Care: An Official Publication, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Cole, K. M., Gawlinski, A., Steers, N., & Kotlerman, J. (2007). 16(6), 575-585; quiz 586; discussion 587-588.
- Remind the handler to take medication.
- Improve organization by reminding the handler to perform her or his daily routines.
- Wake the handler to prevent him or her from sleeping too much (hypersomnia).
- Provide tactile stimulation
- Reassure handler, both at home and in public
- Facilitate social interactions and reduce fear associated with meeting new people
- Assist handler in creating a safe personal space
- Assist handler when dealing with mood swings
- Serve as a buffer to calm handler and reduce feelings of emotional distress in crowded places
- Helping handler to calm down when agitated
- Reorienting and "grounding" handler to current place and time when struggling with PTSD episodes
- Assist the handler when he or she tries to to relax (self-soothe) in order to complete uncomfortable tasks.
- Provide companionship while in stores and other environments can reduce stress associated with daily activities.
- Alert when the handler is starting to experience anxiety problems reminding the handler to take his or her medication.
- Encourage the handler to be more social by getting him or her out of the house for walks. Walks also increase the amount of exercise the handler gets and improves his or her ability to self-sooth if they are struggling with insomnia, or having anxiety issues.
- Help the handler keep a constant schedule and will be a reason to get out of bed in the morning (walks, relieve themselves).