It is unimaginable for most people how mentally challenging it is to accept that you have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). “Clinical depression is the most commonly observed mental health disorder among those diagnosed with HIV, affecting 22% of the population,” Arnold Lieber, MD said. One source (who shall not be named) divulged that he thought that once the medication for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was completed, there would be no chance for the illness to develop into AIDS. When the man’s fear came to reality, he felt so helpless and hopeless in the next months that going out in public or meeting friends became impossible for him.
“In individuals living with HIV, depression may worsen existing disease states and lead to poorer health outcomes,” Bach Xuan Tran, Ph. D. and collaborators wrote. The thing is, reactions like the one above is no longer rare. AIDS is incurable like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, and that is disheartening enough. What makes patients with this illness spiral faster down the depression lane than anyone, though, are the harsh facts that:
- Some Acquired It Through Violence
Getting raped is already a traumatizing experience that the victim might have to deal with forever. If the sexual abuse further results to him or her becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease, the emotional and mental stress that the person carries can cause him or her to question many things in life. If nobody lends a hand or gives this individual an idea to receive counseling, he or she may feel as if there is no longer hope for him or her to live normally.
- People Think They Should Isolate Themselves
Even though AIDS is an illness that gets transferred to someone through vaginal or anal intercourse, some patients tend to feel shame and assume that their loved ones are better off without seeing them in person. They never go out unless their food supplies run out; they prefer to speak with others via phone instead of in person, in fear of transmitting the disease accidentally. However, the more isolated you allow yourself to be in this situation, the more the negative ideas will run in your head until a mental disorder takes over.
- A Few Drugs Have Depression As A Side Effect
The reality is that there may be victims of AIDS who had developed depression even when they only had HIV. Several studies show, after all, that there is a particular drug known as Efavirenz that has this psychological illness as one of its side effects. Doctors typically prescribe it along with other HIV medications. Hence, if the depressive thoughts are already in place before the AIDS diagnosis, the symptoms of depression are more likely to progress than not in the worst way possible.
- Their Life May Never Be Normal Afterward
Assuming a specialist confirms that a 25-year-old patient has AIDS, dealing and living with this truth may be harder for him or her compared to someone who acquires it during their 50s or 60s. Whereas the latter has perhaps fulfilled most of the activities in their entire bucket list, the former may merely be starting to get to it. The dream of experiencing a happily-ever-after might seem bleak in their mind as well, thinking that nobody will ever want to date a man or woman with AIDS. Not to mention, even if it is only a one-night stand, they tend to feel too ashamed to talk about it, and so they end up not meeting anyone.
Depression is indeed common among people who get diagnosed with AIDS. “Clinicians attending HIVpp [HIV positive patients] should be able to evaluate possible signs of depression and refer symptomatic patients for psychiatric assessment whenever necessary,” Stylianos Arseniou MD and co-authors explained. No one can blame them for becoming helpless in such a situation wherein finding a cure for a specific disease is next to impossible. At times, the drugs and the people they mingle with may be aggravating the mental disorder as well.
In case you know an AIDS patient, you should offer that individual your full support or even an ear to listen to their woes. Beyond financial assistance, remember that these folks can benefit from the emotional or mental aid that you can provide. That – and not money – can lead them away from depression.