HIV’s Impact on Mental Health

Almost everyone comes face to face with mental health challenges at some point in their lives. Major stresses—like mourning the death of a loved one, going through a divorce, losing a job, or moving—can all have a pretty big impact on mental health. Having a serious illness like HIV can also be a major stressor that impacts one’s mental health. Some people living with HIV find that it challenges their sense of well-being or even complicates existing mental health conditions. HIV can also affect your nervous system or lead to behavior changes. Having good mental health will absolutely help you live your life to the fullest and is essential to successfully treating HIV.

HIV Depression: What it is and where you can find treatment

One of the most common mental health conditions that people living with HIV battle is depression. Depression can range anywhere from mild to severe and the symptoms can affect your day-to-day life on different levels. According to the CDC, symptoms of depression can include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling “empty”
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Negativity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disinterest in engaging with others

The good news is that depression is manageable and treatable. Your health care provider, social worker, or case manager can refer you to a mental health provider that will get you on the right track to treatment. Curious about what kind of mental health providers are out there? They can include:

  • Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medically trained physicians that treat mental health conditions with therapies such as talk therapy and by prescribing medicine.
  • Psychologists: Psychologists are trained professionals who help people cope with life challenges and mental health conditions with therapies, but usually cannot prescribe medicines.
  • Therapists: Mental health or marriage and family counselors who help people cope with life issues and mental health problems.
  • You might also choose to join a support group.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Find Help website provides a list of organizations and contact numbers that can help you find mental health treatment and support in your local area.

To learn more about depression’s causes, symptoms, and treatments, consult the National Institute of Mental Health resources on this topic. For more information about other mental health conditions, visit the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Mental Disorders.