Stress and HIV
Stress and HIV
For many, an HIV diagnosis is like a death sentence. It can be absolutely devastating news for most. From physical symptoms to experiencing major depression and anxiety, the infection is a cruel diagnosis that affects everyone differently both mentally and physically.
While HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes several physical adverse reactions, one should note the negative impact of the virus on someone’s mental health. If there is a condition that the infection always triggers, it is stress.
What is stress?
Stress is defined as a feeling that results from emotional or physical tension. People say that it is a normal reaction to everyday pressure and dilemmas. However, it can become unhealthy and affect our daily activities. Its symptoms are as follows:
- Lack of motivation
- Muscle pain
- Angry outbursts
- Withdrawal from social life
- Change in sexual drive
- Chest pain
- Sleeping problems
Stress can be an outcome of work pressure. Some environmental factors lead to the development of stress, especially at work, at home, or even with your friends. However, for the most part, it is an aftermath of an unexpected clinical diagnosis. One of these diagnoses is HIV.
How does HIV cause stress?
Although HIV is manageable because of the advances of available treatment, some people still regard the infection as a type of ‘bad karma’. It is because of the stigma that the infection causes in the general population. The factor in which the public points to HIV as a disease that only a particular group of people experience is too much to handle, and it causes severe stress to infected individuals.
Besides the stigma, sharing the news with family and friends is a burden that causes stress. The feeling of being judged and misinterpreted can cause too much fear. Because of this, finding someone who you can confide your worries and lean on for some needed emotional and mental support can be very challenging.
After an HIV diagnosis, sadness and alone tend to influence the mind. Although antiretroviral drugs are available, this does not mean you can heal emotionally and mentally. Being physically treated does not equate to the sentiments of a broken spirit and mind.
How to manage stress?
While treatment with HIV can support your physical health and improve your body’s immune system, you can still become ill emotionally and mentally. Good thing, though, as there are several ways you can do to manage stress triggered by the infection. Consider the following:
Get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a lot of medical conditions. One of these conditions is stress. When the body lacks rest or sleep, the immune system becomes compromised. This will also trigger other complications, which can flare up if you have HIV.
Stop any form of addiction.
If you smoke or drink alcohol regularly, this can make your treatment with HIV less efficient. Moreover, it will only add to the depressed and stressed feeling after the diagnosis. Having a sound mind because of choosing to stop your addiction will help in HIV management.
Exercising can prevent you from dwelling on your stress. Regular physical activities can release the tension and stress your body, mind, or emotion is experiencing. You can also do yoga, a kind of exercise that helps you become calmer and more relaxed.
Join support groups.
As mentioned, sharing your status with your family and friends can be exhausting and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are support groups today that you can participate in. By attending group discussions or forums, you can connect with others who are diagnosed with the infection and share life experiences. This will help you manage your stress more, knowing that you are not alone in this journey.