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Mental Health

Almost every person faces mental health challenges at some point. Major stresses—like the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, or moving—can have a major impact on mental health. Having a serious illness, like HIV, can be another source of major stress. You may find that living with HIV challenges your sense of well-being or complicates existing mental health conditions. HIV, and some opportunistic infections, can also affect your nervous system and can lead to changes in your behavior.

Good mental health will help you live your life to the fullest and is essential to successfully treating HIV. To help manage your mental health, it is important to know when, how, and where to get help.

What Are Common Types Of Mental Health Conditions And Symptoms?

One of the most common mental health conditions that people living with HIV face is depression. Depression can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms of depression can affect your day-to-day life. Symptoms can include:

The good news is that depression is treatable. To learn more about depression’s causes, symptoms, and treatments, consult CDC and National Institute of Mental Health resources on this topic.

For more information about mental health conditions, visit CDC’s Mental Health Basics or the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Understanding Mental Illness.

Where Can I Find Mental Health Treatment And Support?

Because mental health conditions are common, many outlets can help you maintain good mental health. If you are having symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, talk to your health care provider, social worker, or case manager. These people can refer you to a mental health provider who can give you the care you need.

Types of mental health providers include:

You may also choose to join a support group. Support groups include:

Work with a trained mental health professional to learn about treatment options such as therapy and/or medicine. You and your provider can develop a plan that will help you regain and maintain good mental health.

Other ways to help improve mental health and well-being include:

What Resources Are Available To Help Me Find Mental Health Treatment And Support?

Many organizations have websites and telephone hotlines that can help you find treatment for mental health conditions.

What Steps Should I Take Before Starting Treatment For A Mental Health Condition?

Talk to your HIV health care provider before starting any mental health treatment. If you are taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) or plan to take ART, consider the following:

Communicate openly and honestly with your health care provider about your mental health so that he or she can help you find the support you need.