What’s the Difference Between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Emotional Support Animals?

There is controversy surrounding the roles of animals in the lives of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Many of us have seen the posts online about registering your animal as an emotional support animal with a small fee, and being able to keep your animal in a no pets allowed setting. This has led people to question the legitimacy of all service animals and their roles. A feeling of distrust among people who do not understand the difference between these animals, and the rights that accompany them, has been emerging as more people utilize these services.

Service Dogs are the most protected and trained of the 3 types of dogs. While many people refer to all 3 types as “service animals”, the official names for this type is Service Dog. These dogs are legally considered medical equipment and have a price tag to match, ranging from $10,000- $50,000. They are intensively trained for 1.5-2.5 years, having to pass a variety of tests to be serviceable including, but not limited to, opening cupboards, retrieving dropped objects, staying calm in public, etc.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Service Dogs are allowed anywhere their handler is, and cannot be turned away from an establishment or refused to go to work with their handler. DOT’s Air Carrier Access Act, and DOJ/HUD Fair Housing Act and Federal Rehabilitation Act cover other circumstances that the ADA doesn’t. While there is a difference between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals, there is a gray area for dogs that are used to calm anxiety attacks under ADA rules. Psychiatric Service Dogs are covered under the ADA only if they perform a specific action to avoid or lessen an attack. If they are just there for comfort then they are considered an Emotional Support Animal.

Therapy dogs are kind of the opposite side of the same coin as Service Dogs. Instead of offering physical aid to their handlers, they provide psychological or physiological therapy to others and are accompanied by a handler who doesn’t usually need their service. The best example of a therapy dog would be dogs that go to children’s hospitals to bring comfort, or dogs that work in school systems.

These animals, like the Service Dogs, require extensive training. Therapy dogs are also encouraged to be very social and interact with a variety of people, unlike Service Dogs who need to focus on their handler. Therapy dogs may be trained by anyone, but they need to meet standards to be certified. Therapy dogs do not have the same rights as service dogs, though many places will allow a therapy dog to accompany their owners, they are not required to by law.

The last type we are discussing are Emotional Support Animals. This one is the most vague and open-ended. An Emotional Support Animal does not have to have any special training and most of the time is registered by its owner because it brings comfort. Also, an Emotional Support Animal does not have to be a dog. These animals are not protected under the ADA and cannot accompany their owners in establishments where there are no animals allowed. Owners with a registered support animals can keep them in housing that otherwise does not allow pets according to the Fair Housing Act.

What Is A Registered Service Dog Or A Service Animal?

A Registered Service Dog is your best friend and also your constant companion. Service Dogs obtain this classification from being able to assist the owner with a multitude of physical and/or mental problems. And this classification is not confined to Service Dogs. Service Animals can also be classified as having the same abilities as a Service Dog. The primary thing that The Americans With Disabilities Act (aka ADA) requires is that the Dog or Service Animal provides a service to the person with a disability.

Most people consider Dogs as mainly being for either a blind or deaf person and while that indeed is a very valuable service there are many other uses for these animals. For instance, a dog or other animal can be trained to assist a person by pulling a wheelchair and they can pick up and retrieve items for people with mobility concerns.

A Service Dog can smell changes in the human body which can indicate that the individual either needs to take medication or needs to get assistance from a doctor. For instance, a person with diabetes knows that this ailment primarily has the diabetes manifest itself in a persons feet. So, when this persons Dog begins to paying too much attention to a persons feet then that patient knows that the dog is trying to tell them that their diabetes is getting out of control.

The same is also when a person has anxiety problems. A Dog or even a Service Animal can have a calming effect upon people with this specific problem. This ailment is usually treated with medications where a Dog can have the same calming effect.

People with the problem of never getting out of the house know that their Dog will need to be let out of the house and be taken on walks. Doctors know that this patient would never attempt to get this exercise without the Service Animal. So, doctors are in agreement that a Service Dog is beneficial to this type of patient.

Doctors know that this arrangement is almost like a marriage between a man and a woman. This is a marriage of a patient and a Service Animal. The love that is produced by this companionship is invaluable to the patients health.

Under the ADA the patient does not have to have identification papers for their Dog. However, a number of scam companies have come onto the scene which offer cheap ID papers. These papers carry no weight because there are no requirements behind the issuing of these ID Cards. However, there are legitimate companies such as Registered Service Dogs which requires that a patient gets a form signed by not only the patients doctor, which states that the Service Dog or Service Animal, is needed for a specific medical need. Registered Service Dogs also requires that the patients veterinarian signs the same form which states that the animal is safe to be in the general public. This company and others like it that have these strict requirements are complying with the intent of The Americans With Disabilities Act. This company can be reached on the internet at http://www.registeredservicedogs.com.

Gastrointestinal Side Effects Of SSRI Drugs Used For Treatment Of Depression And Anxiety Disorders

The term ‘SSRI’ is abbreviation for ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor’. It is a family of drugs used for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. They are safer than most other anti-depressants because they act selectively on the brain’s ability to use serotonin, which is the principal neurotransmitter affecting a person’s mood. SSRIs do not significantly interfere with other physiological systems nor do they have any serious drug-drug or drug-food interactions except with other anti-depressants / anti-psychotic drugs

In a majority of cases, the side-effects of SSRIs – particularly Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) are mild and manageable if taken and discontinued strictly in accord with the healthcare service provider’s instructions. Nevertheless, some irritating side-effects are quite common (particularly with the older SSRIs such as Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft and others). One common set of side-effects affects the gastrointestinal system as described below:

  • Abdominal cramp/pain
  • Belching / burps
  • Bloating (due to excessive intestinal gas)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia – indigestion
  • Flatulence (more than normal gas the digestive system)
  • Gagging (involuntary choking)
  • Gastritis (irritation of the stomach’s mucus lining)
  • Gastroenteritis (irritation of the stomach and intestines)
  • Acidity
  • Nausea (vomiting sensation)
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)

As seen from the above list, the side-effects are random and even somewhat contradictory, e.g., constipation and diarrhea. This shows that it is not possible to predict which of the side-effects a particular patient will experience. It can be surmised that side-effects are idiosyncratic to individual patients, with many patients not experiencing any side-effect at all.

How you should respond: As stated earlier, SSRIs are safe in most patients despite irritating but non-sinister side-effects. The side-effects are idiosyncratic and do not follow any pattern. The patient should know that all the symptoms listed above are temporary and occur only in the initial stage of treatment or, at worst, last as long as the treatment lasts without leaving any scar. Your healthcare service provider might prescribe additional medication to cope with one of more of the side-effects.

Remember however that you must not abruptly discontinue medication with an SSRI drug but instead follow a tapering strategy that the your healthcare service provider will advise. After all, temporary gastrointestinal side-effects are a very reasonable price to pay for the healing of the bigger psycho-somatic problem of depression or generalized anxiety disorders.

How to Relax Your Mind – Relieve Anxiety With These Simple Tips

Have you ever been up all night with thoughts just racing through your head? If so, you have probably thought about employing techniques that help you learn how to relax your mind. Stress can really take a toll on someone… and if you don’t do anything about it… it tends to just get worse.

The first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone; millions of people around the world suffer from anxiety and panic attacks which prevent them from being able to relax the mind.

This article focuses on ways in which you can learn how to relax your mind. Learning specific relaxation techniques is important if you wish to live in normal, healthy life, one which is free from anxiety and illness.

You’re going to have to learn how to use these techniques despite all of the pressures of any given day. You’re going to have to realize that very often you are to blame for you’re stressed out state. Stress has become a way of life – from the moment you wake up to the time when you fall into bed, you experience a roller-coaster ride of stress and anxiety.

One of the first things you have to do is to actually let yourself relax. People tend to set such a hectic pace for themselves… this often turns into panic and anxiety. You have to learn to relax and stop working your fingers to the bone without a minute of relaxation.

Learning how to relax your mind involves getting into the right mindset. When you do this you can stop your world from spinning, take a break, and start learning how to relax. Most people are not even aware of what they are doing… they just automatically fast-forward through their lives… living on autopilot.

Take some time out for yourself and ask yourself why you’re so stressed out. It would probably be beneficial to write all these things out so you have a good grasp on what is bothering you. Once you have a clear idea you can start to create a road-map that leads in the direction that you want your life to be headed in.

Cut back ruthlessly if necessary to free up personal time for children, family, pets and most importantly yourself. Learning relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation will help you when you’re trying to learn how to relax your mind.

Dogs With Separation Anxiety: Twelve Tips From a Professional Canine Behavior Specialist

As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in behavior issues and has treated many cases of canine separation anxiety, I have seen first-hand how challenging the problem can be. Separation issues not only have behavioral consequences for the dog, but there is an emotional component for both dog and owner, which can make matters even more difficult.

Some dogs are hyper-attached to a particular person, while others simply do not like to be left alone. Anxiety levels range from mild to extreme, and may display as pacing, drooling, barking or other vocalizations, inappropriate elimination, and destruction, to name a few. In extreme cases, dogs may injure themselves trying to escape to follow their owners. It can be frustrating to come home to destruction and potty accidents day after day, and truly terrible to watch your dog suffer. So what can you do?

1. First, set up a video camera to record your dog’s actions when you are away. Reviewing the footage will help to you determine whether your dog seems anxious or upset, or is destroying things out of boredom. If it’s the latter, providing more exercise and mental stimulation should help.

2. Consider creative management solutions. If your dog remains calm as long as another dog is present, you could bring him to a doggy daycare center, or arrange for play dates with another dog. If that’s not possible, hire a petsitter, or bring your dog along when you do short errands.

3. Desensitize your dog to departure cues-those things that clue him in that you’re leaving. Pick up your keys and put them down immediately; put on your jacket and remove it. Do these things multiple times each day until your dog does not react.

4. To prepare for a departure, choose an area your dog will feel safe, such as his crate or a gated off room; this varies by dog, as some anxious dogs may panic in a crate.

5. Be sure your dog is well exercised before you leave him.

6. Provide a stuffed Kong or other tantalizing chew item that will last for some time.

7. You can also place an item that smells like you (such as a t-shirt or sweatshirt you’ve been wearing, or a towel you’ve rubbed on your body) in his safe are to provide comfort.

8. You may have to practice being physically separated but in sight first, then out of your dog’s sight but still in your home before you ever actually leave the house. Once your dog is ready for actual departures, leave for very short periods at first, starting with mere seconds. Gradually build to longer absences. Don’t push too far too fast, always making sure your dog remains calm.

9. Complementary measures that can help include body wraps, psycho-acoustically designed music, DAP, flower essences, and more.

10. In severe cases, pharmacological intervention may be indicated. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.

11. A trained professional can offer guidance and support. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers is a good place to start.

12. There are some good books on the subject. Don’t Leave Me: Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety is an in-depth workbook with step-by-step protocols, tips and techniques that allow you to customize a rehabilitation program for your dog. The Cautious Canine is a shorter booklet but is packed with useful information.

Remember that progress will be made gradually. In mild cases improvement may take only a few weeks. In moderate cases, it might take months. In extreme cases, complete recovery could take up to a year or more. The important thing is to stick with the program, seek help when necessary, and do not give up hope. Your dog is worth it!

Selective Mutism – Tips for Helping Teachers Deal with this Anxiety Disorder in the Classroom

Dealing with selective mutism in the classroom can be very difficult and frustrating for teachers. After all, sometimes it seems that a child with selective mutism is merely acting up by not speaking or participating; and, also, it can be hard to judge how much the child has learned when he or she will not read aloud, etc.

Selective mutism is usually a symptom of an anxiety disorder, and the full impact of this disorder is usually not manifested until the child starts school. It is most often in the classroom where the effects of selective mutism are most seriously experienced. Therefore, it is most often the teacher who must deal with, learn to cope with, and fight against this disorder.

Fortunately, there are things that teachers can do to help deal with selective mutism in the classroom. Here are some tips:

The teacher is quite often center of the most intense symptoms of the child. Be patient. Understand that there is a whole other child that you can get to know beneath the shell of selective mutism.

Realize that as a teacher, you are a most integral part of helping students combat their selective mutism. Be understanding. Realize that the symptoms of selective mutism are not intentional, and you therefore should not get frustrated or angry.

If you suspect selective mutism, refer both the child and the parents to a health practitioner or a psychologist. Together, they can help come up with a behaviorally based treatment plan. This is the most effective approach to treating selective mutism.

Work alongside with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). In fact, you (the teacher), the parents, the child, the psychotherapist, and the SLP are all important parts of the treatment team. Coordinate your actions and work together.

Do not try to force the child to speak. Of course, it is alright to gently encourage the child to speak.

Reward and praise the child for speaking and for participating in the classroom. Rewarding the child will make him or her feel like a part of the classroom, but more independent at the same time. It can help slowly crack the shell of anxiety.

A child with selective mutism is best suited to routine and structure.

· Keep a predictable structure and make sure that you clearly explain classroom activities. Doing these things will help reduce the unknown and give the child a feeling of structure.

Try to a avoid sudden schedule changes. If you are planning a change in schedule or a new activity, give the children a preview of the expected change.

Although a child with selective mutism may not jump right into an activity, he or she might after a little while. It is easier for him or to join once he or she has observed the other children and knows what to do. Help the child get engaged in the activity, and then slowly fade away as he or she becomes more confident.

Assessment of the development and skills of a child with selective mutism can be very difficult for the teacher. After all, it is hard to judge how well a child can read if the child will not read out loud.

Realize that just because you have seen no signs of the child's ability, it does not mean that he or she is does not understand.

· Talk with an SLP to learn about different methods of assessment of a child's reading abilities.

Some children will point to letters or engage in other nonverbal assessment.

· See if the child will allow his or her parents to videotape his or her reading performance at home.

3 Fundamental Tips To Overcome GED Math Test Anxiety

Most test-takers think that the GED math test, in itself, is difficult. But that mainly comes from their fear of the subject. If you think that the GED math test is daunting, then it will be. So the first step in conquering your GED math test anxiety is to fight your own demons.

The thing with the GED math test is that other than talent, you need hard work and determination to go beyond it. Math is basically not scary, but what gets in the way your passing the GED math test is your fear of the subject. Math anxiety happens when you’re so scared that it hampers your thought processes. You then feel hopeless, uncertain and you lose your self-confidence, possibly causing you to fail. It’s a battle of the mind, so to speak, that’s why you have to harness your mental powers to be able to beat GED math test anxiety. Here are 3 fundamental tips.

  • Believe that you have prepared well for the test. You ought to have backed it up with sufficient action, but you have to believe that your preparation for the math test is enough. You should have accorded ample effort for quality preparation for the test, such as by enrolling in a review center, other than studying an online course. A reliable review center will be able to provide you with GED math study guides and practice sheets that have helped many test takers as well.
  • Don’t wallow in self-pity. One problem that puts a dent on your confidence when taking math tests is that you might have gotten low scores in the subject for many years in school. This kind of fear is learned, and can be a predominant cause of anxiety. Whenever you are experiencing anxiety, you’re focusing more on your negative thoughts and your fears, consequently defeating your performance. Remember the saying that “If others can do it, so can you”. You can pass the math test even if your grades in math were bad. Unlearn your belief that you are dumb in math. As you take practice tests, some answers you did right and some you did wrong, right? Bolster your confidence by focusing on your correct answers. This will instill your belief in your success and make you feel good about your performance in math.
  • Affirm your positive thoughts. Practice positive affirmations- short verses that you mentally or verbally repeat to help change your thoughts or feelings about something This concept was introduced by neuroscientists in the 1970’s and since then has been popular. You can change the way you think or feel about math by mentally or verbally reciting positive affirmations, ultimately helping you combat test anxiety. Some of them are:

“I’m smart and I can solve math problems”.

“I believe that my brain has enough capability to help me find solutions to math problems.”

“Math is not a difficult subject, it just needs attention and focus”.

“I am prepared and therefore I will pass the GED math test”.

Many test-takers fail in the GED math test because they were overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. The key to not committing the same mistake is to control your fears. Preparation is the antidote that will pacify your anxiety. Do your best to study for the GED math exam and believe in yourself and your capability to hurdle this particular feat.

What Are the Benefits of Using the Airport Transfer Services?

If you intend to travel on a business or pleasure trip to a country for the first-time, there is often a certain degree of anxiety that comes with traveling around a new city. A simple solution to minimise the anxiety felt is to look at booking one of the airport transfer services. They are easy to organize and available with plenty of different options to match the budget and specific requirements. Also, it is important to find the most efficient and trustworthy companies that have plenty of positive reviews from past clients.

Let's take a look at a few of the benefits of using this type of service:

Minimise stress

A major benefit of using one of the airport transfer services is to minimise travel anxiety. Traveling in a new city with an unfamiliar car, different driving styles, and unknown directions can be very stressful. But, the option to have a car pick you up on arrival at the airport will make the process of reaching your hotel a lot less stressful and gives more time to appreciate your new surroundings.

No risk of getting lost

Many visitors to a new city will have difficulty navigating the streets and finding their own way to a hotel or business meeting. However, the professional driver will make sure you are able to reach your intended destination as soon as possible by taking the best route through the city. This is very convenient for those wishing to avoid the chaotic airport traffic. Also, it is great for those that haven't driven to a particular airport before. Many of the drivers will have in-depth knowledge and likely to make the journey to an airport on an almost daily basis.

Reduced tension

Many travellers will soon start to experience issues with increased tension when it comes to simply hailing a cab or having to drive through an unfamiliar city. However, this is completed avoided when using one of the airport transfer services. They give a very courteous and relaxed travel experience to ensure the trip is calm and comfortable. Additionally, there are drivers that will even be willing to point out a few of the main places of interest while you are on the way to your hotel.

Increased safety

A major hassle of traveling a long distance is the need to pack a lot luggage which can be difficult to handle on public transportation. However, the airport transfer services are much more effective at keeping the luggage safe. Also, you get the option to choose the type of car, so you can easily ensure all your luggage easily fits in your preferred vehicle.

Economics

The option to use of this type of service makes it possible to save a useful amount of time and money. If you are self driving to the airport there is a need to consider things like traffic, car rentals and long-term parking fees. Also, by shopping around there is the potential to find affordable rates that are more attractive than simply relying on the taxis waiting outside the airport.

Overall, the airport transfer services are a very quick and convenient option to complete the journey to or from the airport. They are certain to help avoid many of the general self driving hassles, such as traffic and parking, and will make sure the business or pleasure trip can enjoy the best start possible.

Tips to Navigate Through Dating Anxiety

Worrying over something you are going to do for the first time is a common phenomenon. And going on a date for the first time is no different. Apart from the feeling of excitement, it may give jitters to some. However, staying worrisome and down in dumps for a long time could be a red flag that someone is dealing with inherent anxiety.

This can mar the experience of meeting someone new and having a good time. If the fear of dating sounds familiar and the stress of even thinking about a date is overwhelming, here are some tips to feel better:

  1. Be comfortable through online interactions – It is important to get to know each other a bit before meeting in person. Social media platforms or mobile apps should be helpful in this. This can help in breaking the ice and making two people comfortable beforehand.
  2. Indulge in mind-relaxing activities – To alleviate anxiety, one can indulge in mind-calming activities like taking deep breaths, or practicing meditation and mindfulness techniques, tai-chi and yoga. One can also relax by reading a good book or listening to soothing music.
  3. Do some homework beforehand – It is always helpful to have some pointers ready before meeting a stranger. One can prepare a mental note of a few questions or topics a person would like to talk about in order to avoid awkward silences.
  4. Do some physical activity – Exercise releases feel-good hormones that not just keeps the body fit, but also relaxes the mind. Some amount of physical activity on daily basis keeps one invigorated and alert.
  5. Choose the venue mindfully – Dark, smoky and dingy bars can exacerbate anxiety. Therefore, one should choose the venue carefully. It could be a small and cozy café or an open-air restaurant where the music is not loud and it’s not much crowded. The idea is to avoid triggers that exacerbate anxiety.
  6. Eat mindfully – One shouldn’t order food that takes time to finish or difficult to eat. It could cause an embarrassment to the other person and knowing that can make someone anxious. Focus on knowing each other rather than exploring the menu.
  7. Have fun activities together – Rather than sitting idle and searching for ways to keep the conversation going, try some fun activities. Humor is infectious and effortless. Dating isn’t confined to only eating and talking; one can plan a movie show, watch a play or participate in some sport.
  8. Dress comfortably – A person shouldn’t dress just to impress. It’s important to feel comfortable and dress appropriately.
  9. Try to be your true self – A person on a date should not try too hard to impress the other person. Be yourself and enjoy every moment. Instead of putting all the energy on what the other person might be thinking or how the date will turn out to be, one should try to be present in the moment and go with the flow.

Seeking help for anxiety

Dating can be a fun experience. It offers an opportunity to socialize with someone and discover shared interests. It might also turn out to be a lifetime experience. Some amount of worry is okay, but excessive tension might be a sign of an underlying anxiety disorder that needs to be treated. It might reflect in the way a person behaves in other life situations and not just while dating. In such a situation, one must seek professional help to overcome the problem.

What Is Anxiety and Tips That Will Help

Anxiety has been described many ways; However, one definition is a feeling of worry, or unease; often concerning an upcoming event or something that has an uncertain outcome. If one word would sum up anxiety it would be "uncertainty."

Keep in mind; anxiety is caused by several key factors; environmental factors, genetics, medical factors like stress from a disease, brain chemistry due to stress and use of or withdrawal from drugs.

Symptoms of anxiety are fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping and restlessness. A doctor can diagnose anxiety by examining and talking with the patient.

Cognitive behavioral therapy works for some. It is a short-term talking therapy where a counselor or therapist works with a person to help them find new ways to approach challenges, including stress, fear and relationship issues.

There are things you and I can do that will provide quick relief from symptoms of anxiety such as taking a deep breath. Taking a deep breath will help your body to relax. It helps your body to go from a "fight-or-flight response to a relaxed response. Try slowly inhaling through your nose on the count of four and then exhaling through your mouth on the count of five or six.

Another tip that will help is to accept that you are anxious. Feeling anxious now and then is part of life. Remember, anxiety is only an emotional reaction. In addition, remember your brain is playing tricks with your brain. Also, when you feel anxiety, your brain will come up with strange thoughts and reactions but that is not the truth; it is hype. So, challenge your thoughts; your brain is trying to tell you a falsehood.

Ask yourself when feeling anxious: "Is this worry real?" Or, "Is this thing I'm worried about likely to happen?"

An additional tip is to use positive self-talk. In other words, ignore the negative feedback you are getting from your brain and tell yourself some "positive coping words" like "This anxiety feels scary, but I can initiate some strategies to cope with this." By using positive words, especially words that come from the Bible, you can feel a lot better and can shove the negative thoughts away.

Most importantly, focus on what is going on right now. In most cases when a person is anxious, he or she is thinking about something that might occur in the future. Instead of worrying about what might happen, pay attention to what is currently going on. Even if something very bad is currently going on, focus on the present moment because it will help you manage the current situation. Also, think about something you are looking forward to doing in the future – a happy event. This will help get you through the bad time.

To conclude, anxiety is a feeling of worry, or unease; often concerning an upcoming event or something that has an uncertain outcome. If one word would sum up anxiety it would be "uncertainty." Put your worries and concerns away and follow the above tips. You will feel less anxious and you will have several ways to manage and lessen feelings of anxiety.