HIV/AIDS: Risk for Mental Disorders

By: Shameen Joshi

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can lead to AIDS; it can be transmitted through various ways such as sexual intercourse, sharing syringes with someone who has HIV/AIDS, or through pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. HIV lowers the white blood cell count which is vital for our ability to fight off infections and other diseases. People living with HIV/AIDS may be more susceptible to other infections or diseases. The stress that is caused by the disease can affect the individual’s mental health as they are at a higher risk of developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. Situations that may contribute to the mental health of the individual include:

  • Having issues getting mental health services
  • Loss of social support resulting in isolation
  • Experiencing loss of employment or stress about being able to perform at work
  • Spreading the news about their HIV diagnosis
  • Incorporating their life with treatment for the virus such as using medicine and medical treatment
  • Facing stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS

HIV can also affect the individual’s brain and nervous system causing a change in how the person behaves and thinks. The individual also may have side effects from the medications they are taking.  HIV treatment usually includes a combination of medicines called antiretroviral therapy (ART) which should begin as early as possible during the diagnosis. Understanding the psychological and physiological effects of HIV/AIDS gives the caretaker as well as the individual more information on how to properly care for the diagnosis and it can also provide awareness on the mental health issues that accompany HIV/AIDS.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for depression and/or addiction, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s