Joanna was in her late 40s when she was diagnosed with HIV. She got the infection from her partner with whom she broke up the moment she found the test results positive. Her life changed ever since. A happy, vivacious and outgoing person transformed into a gloomy and negative woman. Like Joanna, there are millions in the world living with the same condition and many who have died.
HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) which places a huge physical and psychological burden on an individual and the community. In order to disseminate awareness about them, December 1 is observed as the World AIDS Day. Started in 1988 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), the day is observed to bring together people from all the communities in fighting the disease, expressing solidarity with those suffering from the disorder and commemorating those who died.
The UN reports that in 2016, nearly 36.7 million people were living with HIV. Such people are susceptible to acquiring mental health disorders because of the stigma attached to the disease, inaccessibility to the services and care, loss of social circle and employment, loss of relationships, and timely treatment. It is important to empower these people in developing resilience and managing their condition.
Here are some strategies that can help an individual with AIDS maintain his or her mental health:
- Talking to family and friends: Many HIV-infected people do not talk about their suffering with family members and friends for the fear of being judged and abandoned. If the loved ones genuinely care, they will accept a person with open arms and help him or her in recuperating.
- Exercising and eating mindfully: Some people get so distressed due to the diagnosis that they stop paying attention to their overall health and this leads to further complications. One must understand that HIV weakens the immune system and lack of nourishment will further make the person feeble. Practicing breathing exercises and yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques can help one stay in the present moment. It is equally important to strengthen the body with a healthy diet.
- Sticking to therapy: It is indispensable for HIV-infected people to give 100 percent compliance to their therapy. They can set reminders and use weekday medicine containers.
- Getting a pet: According to a study, individuals who keep dogs follow a routine and this can help them in adhering to the antiretroviral therapy (ARV) for HIV. Additionally, dogs can also help in alleviating the mental distress that comes with the illness.
- Joining support groups: It is important to join support groups, both online and offline. Regular interaction with people who sail in the same boat can be a huge stress buster. Interacting with such groups provides an outlet to vent the feelings.
Reaching out for help
Living with HIV can get stressful and socially challenging. Despite widespread awareness campaigns, patients still face stigma and discrimination. This can cause mental agony in the form of anxiety, depression and trauma. However, one does not have to deal with the feelings alone as there are plenty of rehabs that can assist a person in developing coping skills to combat the negativity and live a respectable life.
Sovereign Health of California can help a person deal with the mental distress by providing customized treatment covering all aspects. Our safe and secure rehab for mental illness in California ensures long-lasting recovery in a tranquil environment. If you or a loved one needs support, contact our 24/7 helpline (866) 819-0427 or chat online with a health expert and get more information on the best mental health treatment centers in California.