The top 3 Mental Health Issues That Online Therapists Can Help With

Mental health issues can be a horrifying thing to deal with, but you don’t have to go through them alone. The most important aspect of therapy is finding the right therapist for you. Most people find this person in their community, but more and more people are turning to online therapy as an alternative to traditional face-to-face sessions. 

The good news is that many people have turned to online therapists to get help with anxiety and depression and are happy they did.

Online therapy is not necessarily less effective than in-person counselling. There are many treatment approaches, and it is not uncommon for people to find that their preferred method can be found either online or in person.

The cost of therapy varies depending on the service provider. You can expect to pay anywhere between $40 and $100 per month for online treatment. If you do not have health insurance, this may be an option.

If a licensed therapist provides mental health services via video chat or instant messaging, your insurance may pay. Insurance companies vary in how they handle reimbursement for online mental health services. You may want to contact your insurance company before seeking treatment to ensure coverage. Some therapists offer free initial sessions as a way to introduce you to the virtual environment and help you determine if this approach is right for your needs.

When you begin working with a therapist on an online platform, you’ll register with their service and complete a profile describing your concerns and goals for therapy. Your therapist will then take it from there.

Mental Health Issues That Online Therapists Can Help With

Treatment of mental health issues is no different than therapy for other conditions. Some of the most common mental health issues that online therapists treat include:

Anxiety Issues

Studies show that 31.1 percent of adults experience anxiety disorders at some point in their life. The most common anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These cause anguish, but they also affect physical health.

People who suffer from anxiety disorders often struggle to make decisions and keep their lives together. Not only does this result in a miserable existence, but it can also affect relationships and job performance. With the help of an online therapist, you can get the support that you need to overcome your anxiety issues once and for all.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a treatable mental health condition that affects men, women, and children. Dramatic mood swings and unusual behavior characterize it.

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication reports that bipolar disorder has affected approximately 2.8% of American adults in the past year. The median age of onset is 25 years old, but the illness can develop later in life.

Patients may experience episodes of mania, hypomania, or mixed episodes that involve both symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. These behaviors are not typical, but they do not last long — usually just days or weeks. During these times, patients often have trouble functioning normally in their daily lives because they cannot control their behavior or emotions.

Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medications and psychotherapy (talk therapy). Combining these two treatment methods can help people manage their symptoms with less frequent mood swings between depression and mania.

Depression

Depression is defined as a mental state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being. A clinical depression diagnosis occurs when depressed moods interfere with your daily life for weeks or longer. 

Treatment for depression depends on your symptoms, how long you have been depressed, and your response to previous therapy. Treatment may include medication, psychotherapy, or both. If you have mild depression, you may manage it with self-care steps and lifestyle changes. If you have severe depression or therapy and medication haven’t helped, you may need more specialized help from an online therapist.

The Bottom Line – Does therapy work?

Although online therapy is still in its early days, it’s safe to say it works. It has proven to be a viable resource for even the most persistent and resistant patients. The key is to make sure that you take the time to find an online therapist who treats patients with your specific condition in mind. 

When you do, you could find that online therapy ends up saving you time and money—and more importantly, it could save your life.

I Experienced Symptoms That Resembled Anxiety — Then I Got This Diagnosis

As I became more adept at working through each progressively sneaky fear, my OCD eventually developed into the version that I experience now. It’s hard to describe, which is part of why it’s challenging to navigate. Generally, it manifests as a sense of doubt and fear around what I consider most precious and important to me. That doubt turns into anxiety about what I “should” be doing in order to be a good person. Again, the key is that the definition of a “good person” from my OCD’s perspective is wildly stringent, specific, and, simply put, untenable.

I work with this anxiety using a technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). It’s similar to what I practiced when I was younger, except that it also includes exposure to the core fear. Identifying the root of what I am trying to “fix” or “avoid” is efficacious because it keeps the fear from morphing into a slightly different theme that’s still grounded in the same worry.

In addition to therapy, there are a few things I can count on to support my well-being. These include exercise, medication, sleeping well, and eating in a balanced way. I also try to ensure I have times during the week when I am fully immersed in whatever activity I’m doing, which allows my brain to have some space where it’s not just running or ruminating. Playing music is an especially helpful way to both experience the present moment and process emotions.

Ketamine Therapy Has The Potential To Thwart Suicidal Thoughts And Depression

A comprehensive review of dozens of academic papers has determined ketamine therapy has a rapid, short-term positive impact on patients battling depression and suicidal thoughts.  The use of ketamine at structured intervals to prevent crippling depression and suicide ultimately makes the therapy quite promising in the context of mental health.

A Closer Look at the Analysis

Investors interested in psychedelic stocks are encouraged to pay close attention to the details of the analysis conducted by academicians at the University of British Columbia and the United Kingdom’s University of Exeter.  The two groups of researchers analyzed 33 systematic reviews, 21 observational studies and nearly 30 randomized control trials.

The resulting paper was recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open.  The findings reveal the strongest evidence yet that ketamine will help treat bipolar depression and major depression, possibly reducing symptoms within one to four hours or less after a treatment that spans upwards of 14 days.

The analysis also determined one or several ketamine doses significantly reduces suicidal thoughts.  Those thoughts were less frequent at the four-hour mark after treatment and thereafter.  The reduction in suicidal thoughts lasted an average of three days and upwards of an entire week.

The lead author of the paper, Merve Mollaahmetoglu, states the analysis constitutes the most comprehensive review of the ever-expanding body of evidence pertaining to ketamine’s therapeutic effects.  The findings indicate ketamine might be helpful in providing patients with rapid relief from suicidal thoughts and depression, presenting an opportunity for additional therapeutic interventions.

The review analyzed the use of ketamine within a structured clinical setting in which the risk of ketamine could be mitigated.  The review pinpointed early evidence that ketamine therapy provides a significant benefit for additional psychiatric disorders ranging from obsessive compulsive disorders to post-traumatic stress disorders and anxiety disorders.  

Those who have substance use disorders found the use of ketamine spurred a reduction in cravings in the short-term, minimized withdrawal symptoms and also helped reduce their level of drug/substance consumption.

A Caveat of Note

The researchers behind the studies analyzed above pointed out that ketamine therapy used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders aside from depression and potential suicide were conducted in small numbers, meaning they were not fully randomized.  As a result, those in the psychedelics research space are calling for the studies to be repeated in randomized trials that are placebo-controlled and involve more participants.  If such trials are conducted, the mainstream of academia, the media and investing will view the results in a different light.  

The Takeaway

The takeaway from the research detailed above is that ketamine therapy has the potential to help treat conditions that have been difficult to treat in clinics with conventional treatment modalities.  The pivot toward larger trials designed for acceptance in the mainstream of the medical community will help psychedelics eventually reach a tipping point at which they are accepted as acceptable treatment modalities.  

In the meantime, researchers will continue to study ketamine therapy to gauge the optimal dosage level for the drug’s administration.  Researchers are also hard at work attempting to determine the optimal means of preparing patients for the use of ketamine therapy.

Adolescents conceived via assisted reproduction do not have worse mental health

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Adolescents who were conceived via assisted reproductive techniques were not at increased risk for poor psychiatric health compared with the general population, according to study results published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Because some researchers argue that emotional stress can contribute to infertility, depression and anxiety could be more common among children born to couples with infertility, with [assisted reproductive technique (ART)] use further facilitating the transmission of such traits to the next generation,” Chen Wang, MPH, of the department of medical epidemiology and biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and colleagues wrote. “However, the psychiatric health of children and adolescents conceived by ARTs has not been studied extensively, and previous studies relied on self-reports, as well as inappropriate model adjustments, including mediators such as preterm birth.”

Source: Adobe Stock

The investigators aimed to address this research gap by prospectively following a nationwide birth cohort. They linked Swedish population registers with coverage through 2018 and included all children (n = 1,221,812; 48.6% girls) born in Sweden between January 1994 and December 2006. They completed follow-up on Dec. 31, 2018, when participants were aged 12 to 25 years. As the exposures, Wang and colleagues used in vitro fertilization with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection and transfer of fresh or frozen-thawed embryos. Clinical diagnoses of mood disorder, including major depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or suicidal behavior, identified via hospital record and outpatient specialist care, served as the main outcomes and measures. They also identified suicide via death certificates and antidepressant use via dispensations of prescribed medications.

A total of 31,565 (2.6%) participants were conceived via ART. Results showed these participants had an increased risk for OCD (HR = 1.35; 95% CI, 1.2-1.51) compared with all others. However, adjustment for parental characteristics (adjusted HR = 1.1; 95% CI, 0.98-1.24) attenuated the association and made it no longer statistically significant. When restricting the analysis to individuals born to couples with known infertility (aHR = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.89-1.17), the association was no longer present. The researchers observed no increased risk for depression or suicidal behavior among adolescents conceived via ARTs compared with other adolescents, regardless of parental infertility. Fertilization type did not appear to affect outcomes. Fresh, but not frozen, embryo transfer correlated with decreased risk for mood disorders (aHR = 0.9; 95% CI, 0.83-0.97) compared with children of couples with infertility who were not conceived via ART. The researchers noted this made frozen embryo transfer seem less advantageous upon direct comparison with fresh embryo transfer.

“The findings were reassuring with respect to the psychiatric health of adolescents conceived with ARTs,” Wang and colleagues wrote. “An elevated risk of OCD in the overall comparison with all other adolescents may be explained by differences in parental characteristics, and parental use of ARTs could be a candidate in potential screening of this disorder.”

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Ketamine therapy shows great promise for mental health

A systematic review of dozens of research papers has found that ketamine therapy has a quick, short-term effect of reducing depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts, making it a promising mental health treatment alternative.

The U.K’s University of Exeter, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, examined 33 systematic reviews, 29 randomized control trials, and 21 observational studies.

In a paper published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, they found the strongest evidence around the use of ketamine to treat both major depression and bipolar depression, with symptoms reduced as quickly as one to four hours after a single treatment that lasted up to two weeks.

The review also found that single or multiple doses of ketamine resulted in large reductions in suicidal thoughts, from four hours after the treatment and onward. The effect lasted on average three days, and up to one week, according to a news release.

“Our research is the most comprehensive review of the growing body of evidence on the therapeutic effects of ketamine to date. Our findings suggest that ketamine may be useful in providing rapid relief from depression and suicidal thoughts, creating a window of opportunity for further therapeutic interventions to be effective,” said lead author Merve Mollaahmetoglu in the release.

“It’s important to note that this review examined ketamine administration in carefully controlled clinical settings where any risks of ketamine can be safely managed.”

The review found early evidence of a potential benefit from ketamine therapy for other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress and obsessive compulsive disorders.

“Moreover, for individuals with substance use disorders, ketamine treatment led to short-term reductions in craving, consumption and withdrawal symptoms,” the release states.

However, the researchers note that some of the studies on ketamine therapy for psychiatric disorders other than depression and suicidal thoughts were done in small numbers and were not randomized. The review calls for those studies to be replicated in larger, randomized placebo-controlled trials which are considered the gold standard in science.

But placebo trials with ketamine therapy come with their own hurdles.

“We’re finding that ketamine may have promising benefits for conditions that are notoriously hard to treat in clinic. We now need bigger and better-designed trials to test these benefits,” said senior study author Celia Morgan in the release. “For example, due to ketamine’s unique subjective effects participants may be able to tell whether they have been given ketamine or a saline solution as the placebo, potentially creating an expectation about the effects of the drug.”

Researchers aim to continue researching ketamine therapy to determine the optimal dose, the best way to administer the drug, which setting is optimal for treatment and how to optimize patients’ preparation for the therapy.

Ketamine therapy swiftly reduces anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts: Study


Ketamine therapy has a swift short-term effect on reducing symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a review of all the available evidence.

A systematic review led by the University of Exeter and funded by the Medical Research Council analysed evidence from 83 published research papers. The strongest evidence emerged around the use of ketamine to treat both major depression and bipolar depression.

Symptoms were reduced as swiftly as one to four hours after a single treatment, and lasted up to two weeks. Some evidence suggested that repeated treatment may prolong the effects, however more high-quality research is needed to determine by how long

Depression

Similarly, single or multiple doses of ketamine resulted in moderate to large reductions in suicidal thoughts. This improvement was seen as early as four hours following ketamine treatment and lasted on average three days, and up to a week.

Lead author Merve Mollaahmetoglu, of the University of Exeter, said: “Our findings suggest that ketamine may be useful in providing rapid relief from depression and suicidal thoughts, creating a window of opportunity for further therapeutic interventions to be effective.  It’s important to note that this review examined ketamine administration in carefully controlled clinical settings where any risks of ketamine can be safely managed.”

For other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders, there is early evidence to suggest the potential benefit of ketamine treatment. Moreover, for individuals with substance use disorders, ketamine treatment led to short-term reductions in craving, consumption and withdrawal symptoms, the study noted.

suicide

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, the review synthesises the evidence from a growing field of research into the potential benefits of ketamine for conditions for which there are limited effective treatments. The review included 33 systematic reviews, 29 randomised control trials, and 21 observational studies.

Ketamine’s effects on depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts are supported by numerous systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which provide an exhaustive overview of research on a given topic. These are considered to have the highest strength of evidence compared to other types of studies, increasing confidence in the evidence for ketamine’s antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects.

However, ketamine’s therapeutic effects for psychiatric conditions other than depression and suicidal thoughts are based on a small number of studies that did not randomise people into different treatment arms. These effects require replication in larger randomised placebo-controlled trials, which are considered a gold standard.

human brain

The authors noted a number of difficulties in the research field, which they recommend that future studies should seek to address. One factor is the bias created because participants realise they have been given ketamine, rather than a saline solution.

Senior author Professor Celia Morgan, of the University of Exeter, said: “We’re finding that ketamine may have promising benefits for conditions that are notoriously hard to treat in clinic. We now need bigger and better-designed trials to test these benefits.”

However, a number of questions remain unanswered in the research field, including the optimal dose, route of administration and number of doses of ketamine treatment. There is also a need for further research on the added and interactive benefit of psychotherapy alongside ketamine treatment.

Additionally, the importance of ketamine’s acute subjective effects in its therapeutic benefits has not been fully explored. The research was a collaboration with the University of British Columbia, and received support from the Society for the Study of Addiction. 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder often starts in childhood – Chicago Sun

Dear Doctors: Can you please talk about OCD in kids? We’ve noticed that our youngest daughter, who is 6, is developing some rituals with numbers and bedtime and mealtimes. She gets pretty worked up if one of her brothers keeps her from finishing. Should we be worried?

Answer: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder that often begins in childhood and adolescence, though it can arise in adults.

OCD is marked by a stressful cycle of unwanted and disruptive thoughts, images or sensations and repetitive behaviors.

It’s normal for children to develop a few habits or rituals to help ease the steep learning curve of growing up. What sets OCD apart is the intensity and rigidity of the thoughts and rituals. Rather than helping a child cope, these behaviors interfere with daily life.

Obsessive thoughts often focus on a fear of germs, dirt and illness; persistent dread that something bad is about to happen, a fixation on minute details, a craving for symmetry and fears about safety.

Compulsive behaviors are often driven by rigid rules that might revolve around numbers and counting. They can include repetitive actions, such as checking and rechecking that a door is locked or constant hand-washing.

At first, the rituals might soothe a child. But these behaviors tend to take increasingly more time and energy and create a barrier between the child and the rest of the world.

The result is often an increase in worry and anxiety. This can become so severe that children with OCD can develop sleep disorders, become depressed, avoid spending time with others and have trouble leaving the house.

If you believe your daughter’s behaviors fit OCD, speak with your health care provider about having her evaluated. This involves a psychiatric assessment and questions about her behaviors for the adults in her life.

If an OCD diagnosis is reached, the child’s age, mental and physical health and severity of symptoms will determine treatment to help manage the condition. A therapist helps the child identify the fears or worries that drive the behavior and offers alternatives to reduce or resolve them. In some cases, medications are prescribed.

You can find useful information and contacts on the International OCD Foundation’s website: kids.iocdf.org.

Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. Elizabeth Ko are intenists at UCLA Health.

Present By Nature Launches Health & Wellness Programs for Anxiety Sufferers

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Present By Nature offers mental health and anxiety healing programs

Rae the Anxiety Coach is expressing happiness as she sits comfortably near a fountain

Rae The Anxiety Coach is the founder of Present by Nature

Present By Nature, led by Rae, The Anxiety Coach, offers programs for mental health and anxiety sufferers.

LONG BEACH, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, December 22, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — Anxiety has always been an issue for humans and animals alike, but it’s never been more prevalent than it is today. The pandemic, our jobs, social media, social life, and even politics are just a few of the many factors leaving us a little anxious these days. In addition, the holidays and the psychological aspects of resetting in the new year can also trigger anxiety. But, as severe as anxiety symptoms can be, there are many programs and practices that individuals can explore to alleviate those feelings for good. Present By Nature is a great place to start.

Present By Nature was founded in 2020 by Rachel Nelson. Rachel, or “Rae, The Anxiety Coach,” as her clients and social media followers know her, has dedicated the past ten years to studying different approaches for treating anxiety, stress, and trauma. She started with her Bachelor’s in Psychology and then went on to earn her Master’s in Social Work. Since then, she has rapidly expanded her experience and expertise. Nelson has incorporated holistic modalities, has become a certified somatic embodiment coach, a reiki practitioner, and a breathwork facilitator. The breadth and depth of Nelson’s experience and certifications deems her unique and easily distinguishable in the sea of Health Wellness coaches.

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health disorders in today’s society. They are so common because of the different issues that people may be struggling with, such as economic or social inequality, school violence, or traumatic events like natural disasters or losing a friend or family member. The most common anxiety disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Separation Anxiety Disorder. There are other forms of anxiety and mental health disorders as well.

Anxiety takes on different forms in each individual. The root cause differs person-to-person, as does the recovery process. The Present By Nature program utilizes various methodologies to help clients overcome their challenges, no matter how minor or severe. Nelson incorporates holistic modalities like inner child/parts work, meditation, breathwork, and somatic embodiment practices. She also applies spiritual and mindset-building exercises, which serve as remedies for anxiety and mental health.

Nelson is super passionate about helping others and giving back. With deep passion comes ambition and Nelson’s ambitious goals are unparalleled. Nelson recently set a personal goal to support five million people to overcome anxiety and find self-love throughout her career.

“As a coach, I aim to embody the qualities of safety, compassion, honesty, curiosity, creativity, embodiment, and much more. Ultimately, I want our relationship to feel like a safe place where you feel seen and heard,” says Nelson. “I am here to support you on your journey to connect to yourself on a deeper somatic level, heal anxiety, find clarity, and cultivate peace within your mind and body.”

To align with her mission and vision, Nelson has released several 1-on-1 programs and is actively seeking new clients at the turn of 2022. The programs range from one “60 Minute Breakthrough Session” to a three or six-month program, giving individuals flexibility and freedom to choose what best suits them. Nelson also offers free introductory calls to provide individuals a chance to meet with her one-on-one to learn more about her programs and decide if they are a good fit.

There are many ways to treat anxiety disorders, and the first step is recognizing when you or someone else has them. The next step is to seek help in online communities and coaching programs. We recommend that you put “Rae, The Anxiety Coach” and Present By Nature at the top of your list. You will be happy you did.

Rachel Nelson
Present By Nature
rachel@presentbynature.com
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HIV and Mental Health: Link, Prevention, and Treatment

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system, leaving the body at risk for developing infections. It’s transmitted through contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breastmilk.

While recent advances in HIV treatment have dramatically improved life expectancy for people with HIV, living with such a serious condition can still have a major impact on emotional health and well-being. Research shows that people with HIV are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions compared to the general population.

In addition to the psychological stress that an HIV diagnosis can cause, factors like medication side effects, cognitive changes, and health inequities can exacerbate mental health issues.

This article explores the link between HIV and mental health and provides information on treatment options.

Woman sitting on floor looking sad

Woman sitting on floor looking sad

ArtistGNDphotography / Getty Images


The Link Between HIV and Mental Health

Mental health conditions are common among adults living in the United States. But people who have HIV are generally at a higher risk for developing mental health issues than people who don’t have the virus.

The link between HIV and mental health is complex, and may include one or more of the following factors:

  • Chronic stress: Being diagnosed with a chronic illness like HIV can be extremely stressful. This stress can contribute to the development of mental health conditions like depression.
  • Medication side effects: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a common form of HIV treatment, but it also has the potential to cause side effects that affect mood or mental health. These include depression, anxiety, and insomnia (sleep problems).
  • Health inequities: Inequitable systems and structures across society and in health care have created barriers for people living with HIV. Obstacles include a lack of access to adequate medical care, stigma surrounding the diagnosis, and other forms of discrimination. Research shows these obstacles negatively impact a person’s mental health and emotional well-being.
  • Existing mental health issues: Studies have found that HIV is often more prevalent among adults who already have a serious mental health condition. These mental health conditions may put a person at risk of getting HIV because of injectable drug use and exposure to what are considered higher-risk sexual behaviors, as well as a lack of access to information about HIV prevention.
  • Neurocognitive impact: HIV infections cause significant inflammation in the body. This inflammation can affect the brain and central nervous system, leading to changes in how a person thinks and behaves. This decreased cognitive functioning has the potential to prompt a mental health condition.

Living With HIV

Despite advances in treatment that allow normal or near-normal life expectancies for HIV patients treated in the early stages of the disease, living with HIV still has its physical and mental challenges.

Acceptance

Being diagnosed with HIV can have a big emotional impact on your life. Accepting any feelings of fear, sadness, frustration, anger, or guilt is key.

Acceptance may be easier knowing that effective treatment is available, and remembering that people can still live long, healthy lives with HIV.

Coping

Coping with the reality of living with HIV, as well as managing a mental health condition, is challenging. Moving through these challenges is an important step in the coping process.

If you feel you’re unable to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted source. Working in partnership with healthcare professionals and loved ones can help you stay the course.

Prioritizing Mental Health

Understanding how HIV can affect your mental health can make the diagnosis a little easier to manage.

When prioritizing mental health, making small changes to your daily routine and lifestyle can help support a strong and healthy mind and body. Experts recommend the following tips:

  • Seek out reliable information about HIV to keep yourself educated, but not overwhelmed.
  • Consider talking to a mental health professional or joining a support group.
  • Eat a nutritious diet for strength and energy.
  • Exercise regularly to decrease stress and help improve mood.
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness to potentially improve mental health-related symptoms.
  • Take medications regularly, and keep up with other medical and dental care.
  • Maintain a regular sleep routine for physical and mental health.
  • Avoid smoking and substance use.

Common Mental Health Conditions

After an HIV diagnosis, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, or personality disorders are not only possible, but common.

Depression

Depression is the most common mental health condition found in people with HIV. According to some studies, it can affect up to 39% or more of HIV patients.

Experts believe the chronic stress, stigma, medication side effects, and immune system inflammation that go along with an HIV diagnosis can contribute to the chemical changes linked to depression and anxiety.

The many different types of depressive conditions can range from mild to severe, and interfere with daily life and functioning.

Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Losing interest in activities that once brought joy
  • Difficulty sleeping

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions that prompt intense and excessive fear, dread, and worry. Anxiety is another common mental health condition linked to HIV.

An estimated 1 in 5 U.S. adults living with HIV also experience generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), likely due to factors like stress, medication side effects, and HIV-related inflammation.

Symptoms can vary but commonly include difficulty sleeping, feelings of nervousness or panic, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.

Mood Disorders

People living with HIV are also at an increased risk for developing mood disorders, which impact the way a person thinks, feels, and goes about their daily life.

A combination of factors can cause a mood disorder in a person with HIV, such as chemical imbalances in the brain, genetics, and stressful life changes like an HIV diagnosis.

Not to be confused with normal mood fluctuations, mood disorders include conditions like major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, which significantly impact a person’s emotional state and quality of life. Symptoms include dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly, along with distinct manic or depressive states.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are defined as a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of society, causing lasting distress and problems functioning.

Compared to the general population, people living with HIV are almost twice as likely to experience a personality disorder. Some research suggests that having an existing personality disorder could lead to the high-risk behaviors that make it more likely to be infected with HIV.

There are 10 different types of personality disorders—including borderline, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders—so symptoms vary widely. In general, signs can include experiencing notable changes to your patterns of thinking, functioning, and behaving.

Treating Mental Health Disorders

The goal of mental health treatment is to help you manage your symptoms and live as well as possible. Effective treatment plans usually involve a combination of medication, therapy, and social support.

Medication

Under the care of a primary healthcare provider and a mental health professional, mental illnesses can be diagnosed and medication may be prescribed. Depending on the specific condition, symptoms, and severity, this could include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizing drugs.

If you’re currently taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication for HIV, your provider will want to be aware of that, as it can sometimes worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

Psychotherapy

Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist with experience treating people with HIV or chronic illness may be helpful. A therapist will be able to evaluate your mental health issue, determine the best therapeutic approach, and provide tips for maintaining mental health at home.

Talk therapy can take place on a regular basis in an individual, group, marital, or family setting.

Social Support

Building a strong support network can help boost your emotional well-being. Reaching out to others not only helps you maintain a positive outlook, but it can also improve adherence to your HIV medication plan.

Support for both HIV and a mental health condition could come from sources like support groups in your area, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) mental health treatment programs, your state’s HIV/AIDS hotline, or online community forums.

Seeking Help

Confiding in someone about mental illness is often the hardest step, but it’s also the most critical. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your overall outcome. Instead of ignoring symptoms, speak to a trusted healthcare professional or loved one.

If you or someone you know has HIV and is struggling with their mental health, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK) for English and 800-273-8255 for Spanish.

Summary

Having HIV is linked to a greater risk for developing mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and cognitive disorders. Factors like the extreme stress of the diagnosis, side effects from HIV medication, health inequities, and neurocognitive changes can contribute to these mental health issues.

It’s critical for people with HIV to speak to a healthcare professional about any mental health concerns and to discuss treatment options and get support for managing both conditions.

A Word From Verywell

Living with HIV can take a major toll on a person’s mental health and emotional well-being. It’s completely normal to experience fluctuating moods after being diagnosed. But if feelings like sadness, helplessness, emptiness, or isolation become intense, consider speaking with a healthcare provider or other trusted source as soon as possible. They will help you determine a treatment plan that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Mental health issues can affect anyone, but studies show that people living with HIV have a higher chance of developing mood, anxiety, or cognitive disorders compared to the general population. For example, people with HIV are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than people without the disease.

  • There’s no specific “cure” for mental health issues, but there are many effective treatments. Treatment options usually involve a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and social support. Know that it is possible for people with mental health conditions to live long, healthy lives.

  • A trusted mental healthcare professional with experience treating HIV patients can help you create a treatment plan. This may include medication, therapy, and/or social support. Supplemental lifestyle changes like exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and relaxation techniques may also be recommended.

    If you think your HIV medications may be contributing to your symptoms of depression, don’t stop taking them until you speak to a healthcare provider.

‘He’s made a difference to hundreds, if not thousands of people’: the man helping others beat OCD

Stephen Hosking started showing symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder as a toddler. “I’d feel the need to repeat things,” says Hosking, 50, who lives in Southampton and works as a transport planner. “Or to tap the wall. I just didn’t feel complete otherwise.”

When he got older, he would feel compelled to ask embarrassing and inappropriate questions. His hands bled from overwashing. He was convinced he had Aids, and was going to infect others.

Back then, few people had heard of OCD – it was not added to the official list of mental disorders until the 1980s. “My family called it ‘Stephen’s habits’,” Hosking says.

In 2004, Hosking, by now in his 30s, was formally diagnosed. He wasn’t having any success with relationships, and was often in trouble at work. “I’d get so obsessed with listing all the jobs I had to do,” he says, “that I didn’t get on with doing them.”

“It’s not great for your self-esteem,” says Hosking of OCD. “I felt like I wanted people to know the real me, and the way to do that was to confess all my inappropriate thoughts.”

Widely cited but commonly misunderstood, OCD is not, despite popular perceptions, a desire for order or cleanliness. “It’s a disorder,” says Hosking, “where you are irrationally worried about things, which gives you anxiety – that’s the obsession. So you do something to relieve the anxiety – that’s the compulsion.” When the compulsion is fulfilled, the person feels relief, but this is short-lived.

After two rounds of therapy, Hosking has got his OCD to a manageable place. (One practice, focused on exposing Hosking to his fears, was gruelling: “I had this fear of people slipping on banana skins,” he says. “It was almost comedic. Like in cartoons. One of my exercises involved dropping a banana skin and walking away.”) Most of the time, he doesn’t think about his obsessions, or act on his compulsions. Now, he is determined to help others manage this insidious and misunderstood condition.

Hosking founded his first OCD support group in 2005, and now runs four groups: in London, Oxford, Portsmouth and Eastleigh in Hampshire. He does it all free of charge and, before Covid, ran himself ragged, crisscrossing the south-east to lead all four groups in person, every month. He used to work full-time while running the groups, but it was too much, so he has gone part-time.

Stephen Hosking on his day out at Chatsworth

“Stephen has made a difference to hundreds, if not thousands of people in the UK,” says Danielle Walker, a member of Hosking’s London group. “My psychologist thinks attending the group regularly has helped me maintain my wellbeing and not relapse.”

People with obsessive thoughts are often misdiagnosed. “I hate it when people say, ‘I am a bit OCD, ha ha’,” Hosking says. “It’s not true. OCD is not a liking for order and perfection. And it means people who do have OCD think that they don’t meet the criteria for diagnosis.”

As a result, people with OCD can feel isolated from a society that does not understand their condition. But when people come to his groups, there’s a feeling of acceptance and recognition.

“It may be the first time they’ve met somebody else with OCD,” says Hosking. “People start to nod. They realise they’re with people who understand.” When lockdown was announced, all four of his groups moved online: “We didn’t miss a single meeting, which I’m proud of.”

He knew it was critical to keep the group going, especially for members whose OCD was triggered by the pandemic. People with contamination fears – who get obsessive thoughts about germs and disease – “were badly set back”. Their treatment before the pandemic had involved abstaining from masks and handwashing; now everyone was urged to do it.

“We’ve had people say that their life had been saved by coming to group,” he continues. His favourite sessions are the ones where former members return. “Their OCD is basically gone,” he says. “And this shows others that it’s treatable, and beatable.”

Hosking is a busy man, so finding time to arrange something nice for him was tricky. But at his request, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire – somewhere he had always wanted to visit – provided two complimentary tickets and meal vouchers for him and a friend. “It was lovely,” he says. “We went for lunch and had a wander around the grounds. What we liked best was the rock garden. All these massive blocks of stone that somehow looked natural, but were actually manmade.”

A trip like that would have been an ordeal when Hosking’s OCD was severe. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed it,” he says. “I would have been worried about something or other and just have gone through the motions.” Perhaps he would have seen something on the train tracks, and been terrified it was a bomb, or a spotted broken window on a bus and felt an irresistible urge to report it. “The whole day would have been spoiled by my feeling anxious,” he says, “But I didn’t have any of that. We had a lovely time.”

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OCD and Bipolar Disorder: How They Are Connected

Comorbidities are two medical conditions that occur together in the same person at the same time. For example, a person may have bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder. Bipolar disorder can sometimes occur with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Read on to learn more about the connection between these conditions and how they are treated.

doctor office bipolar obsessive compulsive disorder

doctor office bipolar obsessive compulsive disorder

Geber86 / Getty Images


What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that involves a person experiencing intrusive thoughts over and over that prompt them to perform an action to try and neutralize the thoughts. In this case, the recurrent intrusive thoughts are the obsessions, and the rituals that try to counterbalance the thoughts are the compulsions.

It is common for the obsessions to be related to maintaining cleanliness or avoiding germs and illness, or doubts about having completed a task such as turning off a stove. These thoughts and actions are excessive and interfere with daily life.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that involves a person experiencing fluctuations between mania or hypomania often alternating with major depressive episodes. There may be phases between bipolar episodes of depression and mania in which the person is not experiencing symptoms, or their symptoms are not severe enough to be considered a bipolar episode. Even though these phases between episodes can last years, bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition.

What’s the Link Between OCD and Bipolar?

The link between OCD and bipolar disorder is not entirely clear, and there is some debate among healthcare professionals about how they are connected. The symptoms are commonly seen together. It is generally thought that OCD and bipolar disorder are two separate conditions, although in some cases there may be an interconnected genetic relationship.

Diagnosis and Prevalence

About 2.3 million people in the United States have bipolar disorder. About 2.2 million adults in the United States have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Of people with bipolar disorder and their comorbidities, about 15% to 20% have OCD.

Bipolar disorder, OCD, and both occurring together can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional specializing in mental health, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is done by assessing symptoms and how those symptoms impact daily life over time.

Treatment of Comorbid Mental Disorders

Treating comorbid mental disorders presents a challenge beyond treating one alone. This is because some treatments for one condition may make another worse, or because the treatments for one could interfere with the other. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are often used to treat OCD, but they increase the risk of bipolar manic episodes and symptoms.

Treating OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated with prescription medications, psychotherapy or talk therapy, or both together. For prescription medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are generally used. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is often used, particularly as a type of behavioral therapy known as exposure and response prevention (ERP).

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is a newer treatment for OCD that is being studied along with the other treatment options.

Treating Bipolar Disorder

Like OCD, bipolar disorder can be treated with prescription medications, psychotherapy or talk therapy, or a combination of the two. For prescription medications, mood stabilizers and second-generation antipsychotics are generally used, along with possible additional medications to treat specific bipolar symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoeducation may be used as talk therapy methods.

Additionally, there are newer therapies called interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, or IPSRT, and family-focused therapy that are tailored to bipolar disorder. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, and transcranial magnetic stimulation may also be used.

Beyond medications and psychotherapy, coping methods such as exercise and supplements can help.

Treating Both Conditions Together

When treating comorbid bipolar disorder and OCD, the mood needs to be stabilized with mood stabilizer medications before treating the OCD. The combination of mood stabilizers and antidepressants, including SSRIs, can be used to treat comorbid bipolar disorder type II and OCD. However, SSRIs can potentially increase manic episodes or mood cycling in bipolar illness.

Talk therapy is recommended alongside medications, and other coping methods can be helpful, too.

Mental Health Helpline

If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder and/or OCD, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Summary

Bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, can be comorbid, meaning they occur together. Bipolar disorder involves fluctuations between depressive episodes and manic episodes, while OCD involves excessive intrusive thoughts and behavioral responses to those thoughts. Both conditions, occurring separately or together, can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist by assessing the symptoms and how they impact daily life over time.

The treatment of co-occurring bipolar illness and OCD can present some challenges. However, successful treatment is possible, and people with symptoms of both have options to manage their symptoms. Treatment options include medications, talk therapy, coping methods, or a combination of these options.

A Word From Verywell

Being diagnosed and living with one mental health condition can be hard. A second diagnosis may feel overwhelming. If you have been diagnosed with OCD and bipolar disorder, or think you may be experiencing both, you are not alone. Support is available, and there are treatment options to help minimize symptoms and increase quality of life. Talk to a healthcare professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, to learn about treatment options best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Comorbidities are physical or mental health conditions that occur together. In addition to OCD, some examples of comorbidities that are associated with bipolar disorder are anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug or alcohol use disorders, and eating disorders.

  • It is not entirely clear what causes OCD. However, it may be triggered by traumatic experiences or certain types of infections during childhood. Other factors include genetics, differences in the brain, and stress.

  • Bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder do occur together. However, their relationship is complex.

Three Canadians with mental illness approved for psilocybin therapy | News

Canada’s Health Minister approved an exemption for three patients dealing with mental illness to receive compassionate psilocybin therapy this week.

Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and although it’s still a controlled substance in Canada these are the latest compassionate exemptions as the drug’s mood-boosting effects continue to be studied.

The three patients suffer from depression, anxiety, and and PTSD, and one of them had been waiting for 283 days for their application to be approved, according to BC-based Therapsil, which helped them achieve the exemption.

“It’s huge, and it’s a signal that now it’s beyond having cancer or being diagnosed with a terminal illness,” Therapsil CEO Spencer Hawkswell told Daily Hive.

This is the first time current Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has approved psilocybin exemptions for patients with mental illness. Previously, he only granted exemptions to patients in end-of-life care or who had a terminal illness.

 

 

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The federal government’s position is that clinical trials are the most effective way to advance research on psilocybin and magic mushrooms, because they must meet certain ethical, medical, and scientific standards. So far, the Canadian government has authorized three clinical trials on psilocybin.

“There is ongoing research looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat various mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and problematic substance use,” Health Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson told Daily Hive in November. “While psilocybin has shown promise in clinical trials for the treatment of some indications, further research is still needed.”

Therapsil has now helped 47 Canadians achieve exemptions to legally take psilocybin. But Hawkswell said his organization has a list of 1,000 more seeking the treatment, and Therapsil is urging the government to decriminalize and regulate the substance — similar to what it’s done with cannabis.

In addition, Hawkswell wants to see more medical practitioners granted exemptions to procure psilocybin and be trained on how to guide patients through psychedelic therapy.

“My honest reaction is it’s not good enough,” Hawkswell said. “We need regulations, and we can’t be relying on on politicians, to grant people access to their medicine. It’s got to be in the hands of doctors.”