Psychiatric Service Dog and Bipolar Disorder

I am 23 years old. I'm still in undergrad school as trying to finish school has been a challenging struggle in and on itself. I have tried medication after medication and even attempted a try at acupuncture. I ended up becoming extremely depressed and almost back in the hospital. I have been hospitalized 4 times in the past 3-4 years for suicidal ideation. I just got so so low I really didn't think I was ever going to not feel that way again.

I was on a site and someone mentioned psychiatric service dogs. How they can help detect the chemical changes in your brain before it happens. Would this be too crazy to consider? I want to be moving out soon and I want to become independent. Right now I'm just scared because of my past and what has happened. What would you suggest?

Ben's Answer:

Not a crazy idea at all. In fact this was a topic of discussion in my bipolar support group on several occassions. I have known several people who have gotten their dogs certified as "service dogs" for the purpose of providing some emotional security out in public. I believe that some dogs are definitely sensitive enough to know when a mood episode is impending and can have a very real therapeutic influence.

Becoming aware of the early warning signs of an episode is one of the best ways to get back in balance before things spin out of control.

Here in Sonona County California, any health professional can write a letter in support of certifying a dog as a service dog. It's pretty loose. It then allows the owner to take their dog into stores and other public areas.

Check the local regs for service dogs. I think it's a great idea.

Best Wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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Apr 27, 2011
Thank you
by: Anonymous

I have searched service dogs and found a place in CA, which I'm on the east coast, but really liked the place. They train the dogs for you then they will I guess train you to be able to do the commands yourself, with additional lessons if needed. I'm kind of scared to mention this idea to my doctors as I'm scared they will think I'm crazy for having this idea. Your response has helped me think i'm not completely crazy for considering it. Thanks

Go for it! It's a great idea!

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