Friday, 27 December 2013

Women, Child Birth and Mental Health

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Post-Partum Depression

Nothing can make a woman happier than the birth of her new baby. Yet, some women are sad. Why? It is not uncommon for women to experience some mood disturbances after pregnancy, that which is known as the postpartum period. They may feel guilty about feeling anxious, upset, alone, afraid or even unloving towards their new born. For most women, these feelings and symptoms are mild and go away soonbut 10% – 20% of the women may continue to experience this and develop a more disabling form of disorder known as postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is a feeling of extreme sadness and psychological disturbance which occurs during the first few weeks or months after childbirth. The causes of sadness and depression after delivery is unclear but depression or any other psychological disorder present before or during pregnancy may be a contributing factor. A family history of depression may also be a cause. Sometimes, physical changes such as change in hormonal levels and the stress of having to take care of a newborn may be a cause for this disorder. Bearing a child can cause fatigue, loss of freedom, feelings of isolation and incompetency. Marital discord, lack of social support and other life stressors such as financial difficulties may contribute to the emotional disturbance.

The most common symptoms of post-partum depression are frequent crying, irritability and mood swings. Feelings of extreme sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, fatigue, change in appetite, loss of interest and feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness are other prevalent symptoms. Post-partum depression may last for months or years without treatment and this may cause long term distress as women may be unable to bond with the newborn and disrupt marital relationships. This may cause problems for the child who may develop emotional, social or cognitive problems later in life.

Early diagnosis for post-partum depression is very important for both the woman and the baby. If women continue to feel sad or depressed, it is vital that they talk to their doctor about their emotions and feelings and if needed they should consult a mental health professional to seek help. This is treatable and is treated the same way as depression. It is important to get extra support for oneself and for the baby. It is important for one to understand that it is important to get better for oneself and for the baby. One should not bottle up their emotions instead one should talk to people close to them. One should not blame oneself for feelings these symptoms, as it is very common and can affect anyone anywhere. Most mothers feel incompetent and feel that they are poor or bad mothers. Some also fear that if they talk about this then their baby might be taken away from them. This is not true. Instead, treatment and seeking support will help the person deal well with the stress of motherhood.

Various treatment options are available for women with post-partum depression. A combination of anti-depressant medications and counseling sessions provide the best possible support. In some severe cases, if post-partum psychosis occurs, which is, depression combined with suicidal thought, violent feelings, hallucinations or bizarre behavior; hospitalization may be required. In such cases, the psychiatric help provided makes available a supervised unit where the baby is also allowed to remain with the mother. Antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants are both prescribed by the mental health professional. A consultation with the doctor will determine whether mothers can breastfeed the newborn as some drugs may be harmful for the child.

Having a baby can be stressful irrespective of how much a mother has looked forward to it or how much she loves the child. Baby blues are perfectly normal and can be treated with appropriate and timely care, medications, counseling and social support. With such help, one can get back successfully on the road to a happy motherhood and lead a happy stress free life.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Internet Addiction

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Internet Addiction
Internet overuse, problematic or pathological computer use – addiction to the internet is a disorder that interferes with daily life. Online activities are normal but becomes troublesome when it interferes with normal life is sometimes called as net compulsions. Compulsive internet use can be productive yet can be problematic for one’s life and relationships.

Various types of internet addictions can be categorized as it covers a variety of impulse-control problems. Cybersex addiction is one of the types that include compulsive use of internet pornography and adult chat rooms which may have a negative impact on one’s real-life intimate relationships. Cyber-relationship addiction is another form that makes a person addicted to social networking; chat rooms and messaging that make online friends more important than real life relationship with one’s friends and family. Net compulsions such as gambling, online auctions, stock trading and online gaming result in financial and work related problems. Sometimes information overload such as compulsive web or database surfing may cause less social interaction with others and decrease productivity.

Various signs and symptoms are associated with addiction to the internet. One of the signs is that the person may feel preoccupied with the internet – thinking of previous online activity and/or anticipating future activity. The person may feel the need to spend increasingly more time online to achieve the desired level of satisfaction. They may have made repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut down or stop internet usage. They may experience feelings of restlessness, moodiness, irritability or depression when they attempt to cut down the behavior. They are at a risk of losing significant relationships in their life and jeopardize their work, education and career. Sometimes people lie to family and friends to conceal their involvement with the internet and may substantiate by using it as a means of escaping their problems of mood, depression, guilt, anxiety or helplessness.

Various risk factors can be kept in awareness for people to know how much at risk they are to be addicted to the internet. People suffering from anxiety, depression, those with other addictions, people lacking social support, unhappy teens, less mobility and socially inactiveness and stressed individuals are at a higher risk for developing this condition.

Some self-help tips may help individuals deal with this problem and to a certain extent may seem successful in overcoming it. First of all, it is important for an individual to understand the underlying problems that support one’s internet addiction. For example, people struggling to deal with stress, anxiety and depression may use the internet as means of soothing oneself.Others may use it to avoid social contact or meeting people due to their inhibitions. Once the root cause is figured out, one needs to build one’s coping skills to deal with one’s own limitations. One may use the internet to release their angry or stress feelings which can instead be done so by building the coping skills to weather the stress and strains of daily life. The next step is to strengthen one’s social support as more social relationships in real life means less need for the internet for social interaction.One needs to dedicate time for family and friends and finding common interest groups as this allows one to interact with others and let natural relationships develop naturally.

Treatment through therapy can give one a tremendous boost in their control of internet usage. Some therapies such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy can provide one with a step by step manner to stop compulsive behaviors and change one’s perception with regard to internet use. It aims to help one learn healthy ways of coping with unpleasant emotions. Group support for addiction is also available where one can try to find a real-life support group of people with similar problems and communicate among them to understand each other, to help and motivate each other.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

E - Counseling

Online: The New Trend in Psychological Counseling

E - Counseling
The computer, the internet and the telephone – since the emergence of technology assisted media such as these, there has been a considerable shift in the way psychologists and mental health professionals provide psychological services to clients and patients. Tele-psychology, cyber-psychology or tele-health; they are all alternate terms to what can also be called e-health, e-counseling, web or online counseling or telephonic counseling.

The mental health industry offers a wide range of services and recently has begun offering web based services to clients. Online counseling has become a fast growing subset of psychological therapy which allows clients to communicate with professionals through live chat, email or the phone. Online counseling provides direct access to therapy and is also convenient, affordable, effective and not time bound. Virtual psychological consultation is an alternative for those who either cannot afford private counseling or those who are afraid to talk to face to face to a psychologist. It may have its own risks for the psychologists who cannot verify the client’s background and cannot observe the much needed nonverbal communication in interviewing and counseling process.

This form of counseling is a new way to make contact between a client and a mental health professional. Its advantage is that it is direct and gains time but the expectations of a client about help and competency may still be prevalent. There has been a recent increase in the number of clients who prefer therapy sessions in the comfort of their homes rather than driving to a therapist’s office. Online sessions using technologies such as Skype and other videocam formats are seen to be less intimidating and makes the client feel more relaxed and in charge. This is a good thing because the goal of therapy is to give the client the tool to better manage emotional suffering and lead a healthier life.

There may be various concerns with regard to online counseling and the credibility of such sessions. Some of the things one should make sure are that the therapist offers free email consultation in order to have the opportunity to describe the emotional issues one is struggling with and feel satisfied with the responses. One can then be convinced to continue with the therapist to pay and obtain services. One can also determine the credibility and approach of the therapist by researching about their published articles or books. It is good if you pay after the session which shows that one only pays when satisfied with the session. One should ensure that the payment is through a secure site such as PayPal.

There are various pros of online counseling. Access issues is one such thing where it internet services facilitate counseling for those who have access to technology and who have difficulty accessing when traveling or people from remote areas or children. One can have the benefit of accessing and conducting sessions at unusual hours and not just office hours. This may be barrier to some who are illiterates or have trouble with written fluency, people from non-English background and those with less knowledge of technology. Client privacy and disclosure can be maintained as people need not fear about gender bias and discrimination as information is secure which enables one to facilitate, enhance and hasten the process of counseling. Ongoing client support is provided by communication for appointment changes, follow-up services, information access or even relapse services.

Some disadvantages of this tool of counseling is that there is a clear lack of access to verbal and nonverbal cues which limits the therapist’s ability to observe clients and affect output. Body postures like clenched fists, tearful expressions or hushed and raised tones are absent in the electronic form. Some forms of therapy like play therapy, sand tray therapy and other forms of interactions and expressions cannot be translated and thus electronic forms of therapy are considered inappropriate for clinical populations and for persons with severe mental disorders.Apart from these limits to intervention, there may also be effects on general efficacy and security problems.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Obesity and Mental Health

The Psychological Effects of Obesity

The Psychological Effects of Obesity
The population of the world is truly becoming rounder. More than 300 million people across the globe are obese and more than 1 billion are overweight. A problem that virtually affects people of all ages and socioeconomic groups, the World Health Organization estimates that the world is in a grip of a global epidemic and by the year 2022, obesity will become the single biggest killer on the planet. It is the biggest health burden for the world and has plagued the earth for quite a few decades now and will continue to do so in the future.

It was believed that obese people were compulsive eaters, under stress, anxious and depressed. But today, the rapidly evolving world has posed as a threat to health. People console themselves with comfort food high in fats, sugars and calories mostly as they are anxious, angry or have a low self-esteem. A type of depression even includes symptoms of lethargy and over-eating. The mind and the body are inter-related and thus obesity can lead to ill health and may be linked to depression and anxiety. Family dynamics and stress may also play a role in mental health and creates more opportunities for affecting food habits and health. Apart from this, recent studies have indicated the relationship between PTSD and obesity. It has also been seen that women, who have a less-than-positive emotional health a more prone to gaining weight.

Obesity can be caused die to behavioral, biological, psychological or social causes. Behavioral changes such as dieting and binge eating can contribute to being obese. Sometimes, physical changes in the body such as increased chronic illness, body pain, sleep problems, poor immune system, side effects of medications or abnormal hormonal changes may cause obesity. Mental health itself can be a cause for obesity than the opposite as poor perception of one’s health, a poor self-esteem or a heightened concern of body image may contribute to this state. Most social stigmas related to weight and body may cause obesity too. Unhealthy lifestyles and using food as a coping strategy for dealing with stress may cause obesity.

Approaching the possibility of one being overweight or obese directly is the best possible way of dealing and treating obesity. It is best to have a referral base of psychologists or counselors who have a reasonable knowledge about obesity and can help by recommending exercises, diet and a medium to communicate one’s issues. Participating in weight loss programs may have a substantial effect on mood and alter body image. Physical activities aim to decrease anxiety, depression and anger and this can in turn enhance mood and improve one’s self worth and body image. This may be challenging but yet it adds to a person’s daily routine as it helps to modify lifestyle choices.
Nutrition and diet is important for the mental health too as it is for the physical health of a person. A person can be aided to manage stress which will eventually have a positive effect on their ability to be able to control their mood and their weight. Treatments include strategies to improve self-esteem, develop self-efficacy and enhance one’s self-worth to help people change their well-being. Psychological therapies can help to improve mood and weight by therapies such as motivational enhancement therapy approach and behavioral activation strategies.

Obesity is the result of changing diets and changes in physical activity levels. The nutrition transition in today’s world is the main cause for this change. Changing urban trends in lifestyle couple with the rise in the range of food available, at lower prices, including fast food and junk food, has contributed to this. For nations whose social and economic resources are stretched to the limits and beyond, the results of obesity could be disastrous. This can be controlled and this will only be possible with effort and change.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Gambling Addiction

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment for Pathological Gambling

Gambling Addiction
Betting on sports, buying scratch cards and lottery tickets, betting on poker or slots or other card games, either online or outside, problem gambling strains relationships, interferes with one’s work and leads to an irreversible financial catastrophe. Problem gambling which is also known as ludomania is a constant urge to continuously gamble although being constantly terrified yet feeling helpless with regard to the harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop the behavior. Addiction to gambling is a mental health problem and is one of the impulse control disorders a person may suffer from.

Gambling addiction is also known as compulsive gambling and is a disorder characterized by the inability to control the impulse to gamble. The person is unable to take their mind off it and they keep gambling whether they are winning or losing or whether they can afford it or not. This behavior disrupts their life and when one is preoccupied with gambling, is spending more and more time and money on it then a person has a gambling problem.

When a person contemplates on why people gamble, it is vital to know and understand that there is no specific cause for pathological gambling. Like most emotional disorders, gambling can be understood to be a combination of biological vulnerabilities, social stressors and ways of thinking. These elements may increase the likelihood of a person developing a gambling addiction. Some of the other risk factors for developing pathological gambling are mood problems, substance abuse disorders, schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorders.

A persistent and recurrent problem, gambling includes various symptoms such as a preoccupation with gambling due to reliving past gambling or planning future gambling experiences and thinking of ways to secure money to enable oneself to finance gambling. The person may also seek the need for more money to achieve the desired level of enjoyment and may have repetitive unsuccessful attempts at stopping or reducing the behavior.A person may also become uneasy or irritated when they try to stop or reduce the behavior. They may lie to friends and family and may commit crimes such as stealing or forgery to finance their gambling. They may end up risking relationships, work and other opportunities. They may also depend on others for money to resolve their financial situation or may try to return to gambling in order to recoup losses.
There is no standardized treatment available for pathological gambling but many participants of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) show that there is an 8% one year abstinence rate for improvement when coupled with psychotherapy. Medications like mood stabilizers and those used to address addiction may help to decrease the urge and the thrill to gamble. Yet, psychotherapy seems to be more effective than medication as financial/debt counseling and self-help interventions are important aspects of the care which is provided to people with gambling addiction. It has been seen than more than 70% of the people with this disorder have another psychiatric problem so it is important to treat the coexisting mental health condition and not just gambling.

It is thus important to be aware of these symptoms and behaviors in order to deal with problem gambling. It is a challenge to stay in recovery and commit to stay away from gambling. it is possible by surrounding oneself with people who are accountable, avoiding tempting environments and initially giving up control of finances and to find more enjoyable activities to replace the problem of gambling. Changing one’s lifestyle and making healthier choices is one way to stop the problem. One should stop doing what they are doing, think about the consequences, tell oneself to stop thinking about gambling and find something else to do. One should let someone else they trust be in charge of their money for some time. One should also make sure to schedule enjoyable recreational time for oneself and find time for relaxation. One should seek professional help as recovery and quitting gambling may bring up issues like depression, loneliness and boredom which need to be addressed. One should reach out for support, give oneself a reality check and avoid isolation to beat this impulse control disorder.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Art Therapy in Psychology

Uses of Art Therapy

Art Therapy in Psychology
At some point in life, people may find themselves overwhelmed by emotions and its intensity as they may be very difficult to face alone or with others. Art can be used as an effective tool in mental health treatment. Art is a medium of expression and thus it can be used for various purposes to help clients with mental health problems. It is a creative process aimed to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people of all ages. It follows a simple belief – the creative process involved in artistic self-expression to help people resolve conflicts and problems, manage behavior, reduce stress, develop interpersonal skills, increase one’s self-esteem and awareness and achieve insight.

Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making which in a professional relationship is aimed for people experiencing trauma, illness, challenges and those who seek personal development. Creative art helps people cope with symptoms, stress and other traumatic experiences and help them enjoy a life-affirming pleasure of making art.

Art therapy integrates aspects of psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to enhance well-being and mental health. This form of expression offers people an opportunity to explore intense or painful thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment. A wide variety of art materials can be used in this process such as paints, clay, colors and batik to create visual representations of feelings and thoughts. It is an individual activity but can be successfully used in groups too.

Who is art therapy useful for? Everybody. Art therapy has various functions and can be used with people of all ages, backgrounds, intellectual capacity, caste, gender, etc. It can help managers and employees under stress and others who remain generally stressed and overworked, for people with mental health problems, children and adults with severe learning disabilities, for young learners who have issues conforming in school and with problems at home and also for people who are stress free yet feel the need to explore issues within themselves.

Professionally trained in both art and therapy, art therapists have a considerate understanding of the processes of art underpinned by having a rigorous knowledge of therapeutic practices to work with individuals and groups in a variety of settings such as residential, school, hospitals and community based settings. They have extensive knowledge about human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, traditions and the healing potential of art work.

Other areas of work include adult mental health, child and family centers, learning disabilities, brain injury, trauma, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions, wellness centers, schools, prison services and palliative care. Some art therapists work as a part of a healthcare team which may include other specialists such as physicians, psychologists, mental health counselors, family therapists, social workers, nurses and rehabilitation counselors. They help towards determining and implementing a client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Other art therapists may work independently and maintain a private practice with a range of clients including children, adolescents, adults, groups and families.

Art therapy is used to treat a wide range of behaviors and disorders and psychological distress. It is used to assess and treat problems such as anxiety, depression, emotional problems, mental illness, substance abuse and other addictions, social and emotional difficulties related to disability or illness, abuse and domestic violence, personal trauma, PTSD and loss, physical, cognitive and neurological problems and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Dimensions of Well being

Wellness and Health

Dimensions of well being
A healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit result in an overall well being and not just the general condition of a person who is free from illness, injury and pain. Wellness is a state of optimal well being oriented towards maximizing a person’s potential. It is the life long process of working towards enhancing one’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental well-being. These six dimensions highlight the most important components of wellness.

The physical dimension of well being is important to maintain one’s physical health in order to lead an enhanced life. It includes characteristics of body size, sensory acuity, shape, and body function, susceptibility to diseases and disorders and recuperative ability. Physical health is important to strive for a positive lifestyle behavior and for one to take personal responsibility to take care of one’s physical health. This requires one to get regular health checkups and being consistent with self-exams. For women, it is mandatory to get regular gynecological exams. Immunizations, regular exercises and balanced meals, dental and eye exams are all important to manage one’s physical state of health. One can also limit alcohol and tobacco and practice healthy methods of yoga, meditation and massages to ease tired and worked up muscles.

The intellectual dimension of well being refers to one’s ability to learn, to grow from experience and intellectual capacities. Decision making and problem solving is a vital component of one’s health. It is thus important to find outlets that are intellectually stimulating for a person to set and meet realistic goals, may it be academically, personally or professionally. Various opportunities should be grabbed to enjoy different experiences and also on the lighter side one should decide on things that help one relax and practice deep breathing to help the mind-body connection. It isn’t wrong to spoil oneself after a goal is completed.

Emotional dimension refers to the feeling component which expresses emotions in a healthy and effective manner and includes feelings of self-esteem, self-confidence, trust, love, self-efficacy and other emotional responses. It aims to recognize when emotions affects one’s body and the person’s need to express feelings, thoughts and opinions. Using humor to defuse negative emotions is one of the ways to tackle emotional distress and sustain a healthy mood. Writing can be used as way to relieve stress and being optimistic and believing in oneself and one’s abilities contribute to a healthy emotional aspect of living.

The social dimension of well being relates to the ability of an individual to have satisfying inter-personal relationships and be able to appreciate and respect differences with others. It is the ability to interact with others and adapt to social situations and day to day behaviors. It constitutes developing mutual social relationships and being able to interact with others in a positive manner. It is important to comfortably adapt to social settings and sticking to values and believes without being persuaded by peer pressure. It is vital to join social networks to interact with people with similar interests.

The spiritual dimension aims to seek meaning and purpose in human existence. An individually who is spiritually well seeks to explore and develop personal belief systems and establish values to live a life which is consistent with those values and beliefs. It seeks to enable an individual to create a sense of inner peace in order to function effectively. The spiritual realm of an individual helps one to nourish oneself through morals, personal beliefs and also religion. It is important to feel connected with oneself and others and to find a purpose in life and the meaning of everyday things one does. Developing a philosophy of life that one wants to live life will contribute to a peaceful and healthy existence.

Environmental well being refers to the appreciation for the external environment and the world that we live in and nourishes an individual’s role in preserving and improving one’s environment conditions for a standard life. It enables one to respect the environment and help one to have a place to relax, rejuvenate and feel comfortable. It gives on the strength to help contribute to reduce noise and pollution and keep one and others safe.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Mental Health and the Economy

Economic Crisis and its effects

Mental Health
The global financial crisis may have had a detrimental effect on the Indian economy but yet it has had one positive outcome – bringing to the spotlight the country’s mental health issues. India has become vulnerable with regard to mental health especially in the past decade the economic success has increased leaving unrealistic demands on people’s lives and pockets. Economic uncertainty is ever prevalent and it is thus important to analyze and keep regular checks on how it affects people psychologically.

The economic crisis is profoundly impacting every member in a family. Within the nuclear family, various stressors exist caused by the economic crisis such as job loss, home foreclosure or loss of family savings. This places a strain on the parental relationship and affects children too. With regard to low income families, the stress is even higher due to increased pressure on meeting basic needs like food, security, clothing, healthcare and shelter. Constrained budgets has had an impact on funds for public schools, community health centers and NGO’s which affects the needs of children, youth and families.

The nation’s sagging economy negatively affects people’s lives and the lives of others associated with theirs. People affected financially and socially by the economic changes face challenges psychologically. Rapid globalization and urbanization has caused social upheaval creating stress and anxiety. During times of economic trouble, suicide rates increase generally due to the increase in stress caused by job losses and income loss. In the past two decades, debt and distress has driven many farmers and low income breadwinners to commit suicide.

It is not possible to estimate the effect of the falling economic situations on mental health but various NGO’s and psychologists report an accelerated increase in calls and visits by people affected by this turmoil. An increase of more than 30% rise has been seen by organizations working towards offering emotional support through calls. Yet, it is alarming to see that most people with mental health disorders have stopped taking medications and visiting mental health professionals as they are unable to maintain the financial requirements for paying for their treatment.

Mental health is essential to overall health of a person. It is thus important to recognize the stress that affects a person and balance one’s needs. The adverse effects of the constantly changing economy can be averted by regular physical exercises, diet, appropriate sleep and stress management. It is vital to take care of one’s needs to stay healthy to be able to respond to the needs of one’s family.

Family and friends offer the best possible support at times of need especially in emotionally stressful situations. Their encouragement and support with feedback will help one to think positive and work towards betterment. Positive thinking should be practiced by avoiding activities that cause one to dwell on why one is stressed. One can limit news consumption and make time for other activities such as music, reading, etc., to help relieve stress. Socializing and having mild fun can relieve stress by engaging in low cost activities such as trekking, walking, etc.

Psychology has amassed a great body of knowledge to help people and families address economic stress and for preventing mental health problems like depression, child maltreatment and domestic violence. With appropriate tools and services for positive parenting, prevention of childhood abuse and neglect and for fostering children, youth and families, one can effectively cope with the stress brought on by economic downturns. Many of the steps required to be taken to address mental health in India will take time yet effort can be taken to produce more professionals and train members of the community to work towards this cause, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

Monday, 2 December 2013

HIV/AIDS and Mental Health

Effects and Coping

Physical health problems can affect anybody, anywhere, anytime. The same applies to Mental Health. People diagnosed with HIV are more likely to experience mental health problems than others. HIV can cause AIDS which is an immune deficiency disease that compromises the body’s immune system and causes it to break down making it unable to fight infections. It leaves the body weak, vulnerable and unable to cope. This terminal disease brings along with it a lot of psychological issues causing mental health symptoms and illness.

Being diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, a lot of mental health issues accompany such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression and trauma. Strong emotional reactions are produced upon discovering the prevalence of the physical illness. This may range from initial denial to anger, progressing to depression, fear, anxiety and stress. Along with these symptoms, a lot of social symptoms may also occur such as substance abuse and social isolation to cope with the distress. Conflicting emotions arises which makes the person feel stressed, sad, angry ad helpless. Some may even have suicidal thoughts and it is understandable that feelings of helplessness and fear of illness, disability and death may be present.

When people first discover that they are HIV positive they often deal with it by denying the truth. They may believe that the results were not accurate or there was a mix up. This is usually the first natural normal reaction. Once denial doesn’t help a person cope, the next stage is anger where the person feel rage as to why them or why they didn’t know earlier. Dealing with anger is important by talking to others for support, exercising for eliminating these feelings and avoiding circumstances and situations that may make the person feel angry.

Persistent sadness or depression may engulf the person where the person may feel sad, irritated, and hopeless and may also see changes in eating and sleeping patterns. A natural loss of interest may occur and the person may feel tired, worthless and guilty and have difficulty concentration. Depression is twice as common in people with HIV as compared to others. Treatment can be sought to deal with these feelings by psychotherapy, medications and counseling based on the person’s physical and mental condition.

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and panic, accompanied by intensive sweating, shortness of breath, increased heartbeat, nervousness, agitation and headaches. It is often caused by circumstances that result in fear, insecurity and uncertainty which is the discovery of having AIDS in this scenario. Every HIV patient may have a different experience of anxiety and this can be treated by medications and psychotherapy.
Substance abuse is a common presence among people with HIV infection and this unfortunately can trigger and complicate mental health problems.Use of substances can increase the levels of distress, interfere with treatment and can also lead to memory impairment. Addressing this is critical as the symptoms can impersonate mental disorders and other mental health problems.

HIV infection and AIDS affects all the aspects of a person’s life. People with HIV and AIDS are demanded to adapt to a life threatening chronic illness and the associated physical and mental challenges. Coping may seem difficult but it is not impossible. A person can talk to their doctor about treatments for depression and anxiety and can get involved with a support group and find emotional support with family and friends. It is completely normal to have emotional reactions of anxiety, fear and depression but it is important to note that these symptoms are not permanent and help is available with doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, family members, friends, support groups and other services.