After being diagnosed with HIV, you may have been given plenty of guidance and treatment on how to look after your physical health. Likewise, your emotional and mental health is just as important when you are living with HIV.
There are many different types of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety disorders, low self-esteem or personality disorders. They can affect anyone and everyone, but living with HIV can cause additional worries that may make you more likely to experience a mental health problem.
From learning you are HIV-positive, starting lifelong treatment, deciding the best way to share your diagnosis, or other worries about living with HIV can affect your mental wellbeing.
You may experience stigma and discrimination from people who don’t understand HIV and have negative views about it. This can be very hard to deal with, especially if it comes from people you are close to and/or if these relationships change as a result.
It can help to share facts about HIV, how treatment has now made HIV manageable and even untransmittable. This can help to dispel some of the common HIV myths and assumptions that some people may have.
HOW CAN I LOOK AFTER MY MENTAL HEALTH WHEN LIVING WITH HIV?
Recognizing the way you’re feeling is the first step to managing your emotional wellbeing when living with HIV.
If any of these feelings are overwhelming or last for longer than two weeks: Feeling depressed, hopeless, ashamed or guilty almost every day, tiredness, overeating or loss of appetite, difficulty concentration or sitting still, suicidal thoughts it is time to get help.
1. Talk to family and friends.
Sometimes it’s hardest to talk to those you love because you might be scared of their reaction or of upsetting them. However, they could be the greatest source of help and support because they already know you and can help you to feel less alone.
2. Find support groups and helplines.
You might prefer to talk about your feelings with someone at a helpline or support group use the Consult a Doctor platform. The fact that you don’t know these people personally may help you to talk honestly about your feelings and living with HIV.
3. Share your feelings with your healthcare provider: Your healthcare provider isn’t just there to give you treatment and check your viral load. They also need to know if you’re experiencing other difficulties that could affect your overall health, such as mental health problems. Use the Consult A Doctor platform to get connected to a professional.
4. Exercise and staying healthy: Exercise, sleep, and nutrition are important for a healthy mind and the benefits can be significant for anyone who is living with HIV.
A healthy lifestyle helps with some of the symptoms and to get some control back.
5. Control your mind: “A merry heart is like medicine” dwelling in self-pity and regret can kill you faster than any disease including HIV. A change in perspective can go a long way in changing how you feel.
Even small activities such as taking a walk help to relax and distract you from any negative thoughts. Remember you are more than a disease, you are superhuman.
Cheers to health, you can share this article or some of our social media posts on HIV to help raise awareness and break stigmas.
Love and Light.