Communities living with or at risk of HIV are at a higher risk for developing mental health issues.
If this is you, or someone you care about, it can be helpful to know that as someone adjusts to a new or ongoing health status, then anxiety, depression, stress or other mood disorders can creep in. Additionally, if a person has existing mental health concerns, a new diagnosis can add to the dilemma.
Some situations can perpetuate mental health concerns for folks living with HIV:
- Trouble accessing services
- Experiencing loss of social support and increasing isolation
- Experiencing employment loss or changes, or being unable to perform as well as before
- Having to tell others about the HIV diagnosis
- Managing medications and treatment, feeling confused or overwhelmed
- Medication side effects
- Dealing with losses like relationships or physical health abilities
- Facing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV
HIV and related infections may also affect the brain and nervous system, and this in turn can cause changes in how someone thinks and behaves. It is possible to stay ahead of these changes if we slow down, understand the situation, get informed and speak with a professional.
What’s particularly important to understand is that mental health issues can be addressed, especially with trusted folks, professionals and safe communities. Knowing there’s help out there is a good first step. Knowing what resources are available and relevant is a great next step.
Overall, feeling more in control of ourselves and our situations can be very empowering. It will help feel steadier when challenging moods or mental health changes come along.
Speaking to others in a group or in individual therapy can be useful to hear our concerns normalised and validated, as well as to challenge any unhelpful thought patterns.
It’s normal to feel elevated levels of stress and worry with any new health change or with dips in our health.
It’s important to know that all of it is completely manageable.
Good mental health can help us continue to live our life to the fullest and is a huge part of successfully treating HIV.
Reach out if you need to: www.wildcalmtherapies.com.au