World AIDS Day is dedicated to uniting in the fight against HIV and to show support to people who live with HIV/AIDS as well as for those who have died. This day does not only focus on the individual but their loved ones too. It is important to offer support and educate loved ones in the community about the Mental Health aspect of HIV/AIDS.
Most people aren’t aware that HIV/AIDS & Depression often occur together in those who live with the virus. When we think of HIV/AIDS we immediately think of the physical impact of the illness such as weight loss, fever, headaches, muscle aches, joint pains, sore throat, rash etc. What is often not taken into consideration is the Mental Health problems associated with the diagnosis and medication side effects – people living with HIV may experience Depression, Anxiety, Panic, or even Suicidal thoughts.
“Living with HIV can evoke Depression and Anxiety and of course other Mental Health challenges can make a person more vulnerable to contracting HIV in the first place, or affect their ability to take ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) and sustain life long treatment. In the mix would be stigma (especially internalised stigma) and the experiences people living with HIV might have of the attitudes and actions of others” says Pierre Brouard, Clinical Psychologist.
This free Facebook Friday Q&A aims to allow people who have problems, and need their questions answered, to talk to someone who works in the field, to discuss the medication affects. Wherever you are in the country you can log in and ask for free advice on the live chats with top experts for an hour. Either from 1pm to 2pm or 7pm to 8pm.
Tips for managing Depression & HIV/AIDS :
- Talk about your feelings with your doctor, friends, family members, or other supportive people
- Seek Mental Health therapy
- Learn more about HIV/AIDS and Depression
- Avoid drug and alcohol use
- Follow a healthy diet
- Manage physical and emotional health problems
- Follow doctor's orders about your prescriptions
- Try to find activities that relieve your stress, such as exercise or hobbies
- Try to get enough sleep each night to help you feel rested
- Learn relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing
- Join a support group
Psychologist Pierre Brouard will be chatting in the afternoon at 1pm – 2pm, he is from the University of Pretoria. The evening chat will be at 7pm – 8pm with Psychiatrist Dr Gail Ashford from Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.
To join the chats, LIKE SADAG’s Facebook Page: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group. Facebook users that would like to remain anonymous can send a private message to SADAG and we will ask on your behalf.
SADAG is able to provide telephonic support, counselling and referrals to appropriate health care workers. Call 0800 70 80 90, to contact our call centre which is open 7 days a week, every day of the year, from 8am - 8pm or visit www.sadag.org for more info.
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